Chinese newsletter promotes cultural understanding

Julia Adams

Last November, Project Pengyou at WKU began producing The Pengyou Pages, a newsletter with a focus on Chinese-American relations.

In English, “Pengyou” means “friend.” The newsletter aims to promote friendships and understanding between Chinese students and American students.

Guthrie senior Melissa Smith, print media manager of The Pengyou Pages, said her interest in China began when she took a trip to Mongolia to teach English.

“When I got back from that experience, my whole outlook on life changed,” she said. “I had a greater appreciation for things, like a hot shower.”

Smith had a difficult time relating to the people she knew before the trip to Mongolia, and said she felt like she didn’t really identify with her friends after coming back.

After her trip, Smith joined the Chinese Flagship Program at WKU, where she began to find connections with others.

“Project Pengyou has become a platform for me to broaden the perspectives of our community,” Smith said, explaining that it offers a chance to hear about other perspectives even for those who have never left the United States.

Project Pengyou is headquartered in Beijing and has chapters located internationally. The WKU chapter of Project Pengyou prints The Pengyou Pages every month during the school year.

Wen Wang, a senior from Baoding, China, has contributed to the Pengyou Pages several times. She came to WKU two years ago to study abroad. Wang worked at Project Pengyou for a year before providing translations and editing to The Pengyou Pages.

“I want people to know more about my country and its beautiful parts,” Wang said. She loves everything about China; culture, people, history and food, she said.

Wang is one of several students who contributes to The Pengyou Pages. There have been translations in Chinese as well as Russian.

The Pengyou Pages have English and Chinese language articles next to one another in every issue.

The Pengyou Pages are volunteer-based and student-produced. There is no set group of writers, so there are always new contributors. Smith works on every issue, but there are currently no permanent editors. At this point, Smith is trying to recruit new people to work for The Pengyou Pages.

The newsletter informs the community about the similarities between the United States and China to help bring understanding to cultural differences.

Smith believes the newsletter “provides different perspectives to get away from that ethno-centric view.”

Reporter Julia Adams can be contacted at 270-996-2106 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaSkyeAdams.