Visit of Delegation from the University of Notre Dame to Yenching Academy of Peking University

On October 23, a delegation from the University of Notre Dame, led by Provost Thomas Burish, visited the Yenching Academy of Peking University. The delegation included Mr. Jonathan Noble, Senior Assistant Provost for Internationalization, Mr. Patrick Gibbons, Executive Director of Academic Communications, Ms. Jingyu Wang, Executive Director of Beijing Global Gateway, and Mr. Robert Liu, founder and chairman of Tireco, Inc. and the benefactor of Notre Dame's Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies. The delegation was greeted upon arrival by Dean Yuan Ming, Associate Dean Fan Shiming, and Yenching Scholars from the 2018 and 2019 cohorts, including two Notre Dame alumnae, Emily Vincent and Lily Falzon.

In the discussion between the Notre Dame delegation and Yenching Academy professors and students, Provost Burish asked Yenching Scholars about their motivations for studying at the Academy. Lukmon Akintola from Nigeria said that he came to Yenching because he was interested in Sino-African trade and he wanted to learn more about China's economic engagement in Africa, with the hopes of working either for the African Union or the public sector later. Akosua Agyepong from Ghana said she came to Yenching because she had a previous connection with China from studying American politics, African history, and the history of the People's Republic of China's efforts to join the UN, and hoped to make use of the intersection of all three regions in her career.

In their discussions with Provost Burish and the Notre Dame delegation, Yenching Scholars spoke at length about the advantages of an interdisciplinary program like Yenching, and especially the grants and other opportunities for fieldwork provided by the Academy. Xu Miao from China described how Yenching's program of study prepared and encouraged students to pursue interests outside of the Peking University campus. Emily Vincent from the United States recounted the research travel she undertook in the spring to a very small village in Gansu province, and how the China in Transition course in the fall term had provided her with the academic framework to understand local conditions and poverty alleviation efforts in the region.

Reflecting on the discussion on the nature of international and interdisciplinary studies, Provost Burish noted that traveling abroad not only transforms one's assumptions about the host country, but also one's perceptions of one's home country. Provost Burish also emphasized the importance of studying broadly while finding a passion - a sentiment echoed by Dean Yuan, who spoke about the need to delve back into classics to prevent the fragmentation of academic disciplines. Provost Burish also reiterated the motto of Notre Dame - that students ought to be a force for good, not just in terms of their intellect, but also in their acceptance of certain core values as human beings.

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