Through Our Door | Jing Zuo: Assistant Dean and Director of Administration of Yenching Academy

Ms. Jing Zuo has witnessed the whole process of the founding of Yenching Academy, from its infancy to the actual launch in Jingyuan. For Ms. Zuo, Jingyuan is not merely a workspace or a place for study, it is a witness to the beauty of youth: it has not only seen Ms. Zuo’s dedication to Yenching Academy, but also witnessed the generations of Yenching Scholars who met with each other, shared their opinions, and got to know China. More than that, it is a shared spiritual home for all of us who live here in Peking University.

Q: Why do you think that your deepest impression of Jingyuan is a “spiritual home” for people who live in and with Peking University?

A:Actually, every tree and bush in this campus can be regarded as part of the “spiritual home” for people in Peking University, and so is Jingyuan. For me, “spiritual home” refers to the memories that generations of students have of the specific architecture or area. Therefore, Jingyuan as the “spiritual home” includes different meanings to people from the Philosophy Department in the past and to people in Yenching Academy currently.

Q:In the questionnaire, you described Jingyuan as “tranquil,” “full of vitality” and “youthful.” Could you please elaborate on these impressions for us?

A:“Tranquility” is every visitor’s most immediate feeling when they come to Jingyuan. It refers to the plants at Jingyuan, full of vitality. The word “youthful”, however, has two layers of meaning. On the one hand, from my own experience, I have been working at Jingyuan with many like-minded people to take on various challenging but significant jobs. It has thus not only witnessed the history of Yenching Academy but also seen my hardworking youth. On the other, different cohorts of Yenching Scholars have enriched their knowledge and developed friendships at Jingyuan. Various opinions and experiences have all collided in the same space. Along the way, some scholars changed their perception of China and some graduates returned to their home countries but came back to China again to base here. These significant life decisions can all be traced back to their time at Jingyuan.

Q:Which place do you like best in Jingyuan?

A:I would say the Jingyuan courtyard 3. I have been working here for a long time, so I have developed an attachment to it. Moreover, when I am working at my office, I can easily view the scenery of the yard, from spring, summer, autumn to winter.

Q:Which time/season do you like best in Jingyuan?

A:Spring is my favorite. It is so beautiful when the wisteria bloom in the spring. Together with other plants, they evoke the vitality of the spring.

Q:Have you had any unforgettable experiences in Jingyuan?

A:We once organized an event, in the yard between Jingyuan 2 and 3, to plant a purple-leafed plum tree, and this left a deep impression on me. On May 5 of 2019, Jingyuan full of life, scholars and faculty of Yenching Academy gathered here to look back to the past development during the 5th anniversary celebration of Yenching Academy. We planted tree together and that was very memorable.

Q:As a staff member who has worked for Yenching Academy for over 5 years, what kind of space do you think Jingyuan can provide to students?

A:I hope that the next generations of Yenching Scholars can bring more vitality to Yenching Academy and demonstrate the spirit to “learn and contribute”, bringing rich and meaningful substance to Jingyuan through every small action in their lives and studies.

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