YCA Life | You’re the Soul

Our six Residential Advisors (RAs) organized diverse extracurricular activities for the 2023 Cohort Scholars from 26 countries and regions, making their on-campus Shaoyuan a cozy home at Yenching Academy.

An Empowered Team

Our new RAs learned a lot from their predecessors about organizing satisfactory cross-cultural activities and the problems international students may confront upon arriving in China. The new RA team felt empowered with the old team’s help.

On September 13, the Academy’s Student Affairs Office invited Wu Haofeng, director of the Shanghai-based Sinoaid Health Promotion Center, to give a tailored training to the six RAs on CPR and on-campus first aid. The RAs gained insights into commonly used medicines and first-aid tips, followed by a drill. They increased awareness of safety risks and became better prepared to create a secure residence for Yenching Scholars.

A Help Hand in Daily Life

Over the orientation week, our RAs either picked up incoming students from Beijing Capital International Airport and Beijing Daxing International Airport or received their new fellow students at the entrance of Peking University. Besides, their “luggage checkroom” service proved to be a great convenience to the newcomers. A side attraction of their diligently planned oriental week activities for the new students was a tour of PKU’s canteens, with the RAs leading the freshmen to enjoy diverse delicacies on campus. The RA team also helped international students with routine procedures like the foreigner’s residence permit process and entry-required physical examination.

Extracurricular Activities for the Newcomers

It took the RA team two weeks to plan and organize this year’s PKU Discovery. They drew inspiration from past orientation week events and designed games for students from different cultural backgrounds. The first-year Yenching Scholars joined many activities and games, including a quiz, dance, ping-pong relay, and shuttlecock at strategic points across campus to help them get acquainted with the university and its history. This process also enabled the Scholars to learn more about one another, fostering a sense of community among the Scholars.

Moreover, the RA team organised an IKEA trip for dormitory refurbishments to help new students create ideal living spaces at their Peking University residence.

Our RAs organized ice-breaking games, including “info-ball fight” and “passing the pads,” for the first class meeting. Students were divided into small groups of 3–5 members each. Each group member was handed a question pad containing Brainteaser, Truth or Dare, Quiz Night, and Campus Life Knowledge notes prepared by the RA team. The students then played draw-and-answer. By engaging in these games, the students got to know each other and their class better.

Following the YCA tradition, the RA team organized cultural trips for the new students during their first month in Beijing. They designed two routes for the Hutong Go! activities. Participants could start from Soong Ching Ling’s former residence or the Lotus Market to explore the Shichaihai Lake area, including the Yinding Bridge, the Guangfu Daoist Temple, and the Bell Tower. Either route provided insights into the life of local hutong residents, dotted with iconic landmarks. Along the routes, students enjoyed small games like “Kick the Shuttlecock!”, “Ping-pong Contest” and “Cultural Detective”, immersing themselves in Beijing’s hutong life.

The Academy has another longstanding tradition of joining many other Beijing residents in watching the flag-raising ceremony at Tian’anmen Square. On October 7, at three o’clock in the morning, the RA team and our students embarked on a two-hour bike trip from Peking University to Tian’anmen Square. As the first rays of morning sunlight illuminated the scene, they witnessed the national flag of China ascending to the rhythm of the national anthem. In the moment, they collectively commemorated the 74th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

The RA team is committed to making continuous contributions and collaborating with fellow students to organize more extracurricular activities. They aim to significantly enhance the academic and social aspects of our Scholars’ living experiences at the Academy.

Words from 2023 Cohort Scholars

Oliver Banks (UK): RAs are ready to help. They immensely supported me when I first came to China and the university—my special thanks to Jacqueline Gu and Jiang Bofang.

Liang Danqi (China): Joe and Bihui are my RAs, and having them with me in the first weeks at YCA was a delightful experience. I wasn’t initially aware who my RAs would be when I was in the PKU Discovery, but the positive energy they radiated was immediately evident. As a cohesive, warmhearted, and sincere team, the RAs facilitated engaging games that efficiently acquainted me with the campus. I eagerly anticipated our class meeting, and the ice-breaking games Joe and Bihui designed were entertaining and insightful. The activities made it easy for my classmates and me to forge connections, share life stories, and discover each other's hobbies early in the program. RAs are of great help in our daily life. They’re really, really very kind.

Clementine Pippa Ebel (UK): Our RAs are brilliant, and the activities are fantastic. I have had the opportunity to make new friends with new students in my cohort and students from previous cohorts.

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