Introducing the 2019-2020 Yenching Academy Graduate Student Union Executive Committee

Meet our 2019-2020 Yenching Academy's Graduate Student Union Executive Committee! The Yenching GSU operates in coordination with the Peking University Graduate Student Union. This year, the team consists of two fourth cohort Yenching Scholars Michael Lee (President, South Korea) and Hana Lord (Director of Sports, United States), along with five fifth cohort Yenching Scholars Matthew Coffin ( Director of Events, United States), Natalia Jandzikova (Director of Operations, Slovakia), Liu Yunzhi, Director of Academic Affairs, China), Igor Silva (Director of Public Relations, Brazil), and Yu Songqi (Vice President, China). Please see below for a brief introduction of each member to learn more about this team. 

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Michael Lee, President, 4th Cohort, South Korea: Yenching has become my home within Beijing in the year that I’ve been here. As a second-year scholar, I feel a duty to put my experiences here in the service of this incredible society of people from around the world. As President, I want to ensure everyone feels included and that our views are represented so we can make meaningful change in our community.

Yu Songqi (Jacky), Vice President, 5th Cohort, Sichuan, China: The most important element of our Yenching experience lies in our connection to the communities we are part of. Diverse as we are, we came to YCA with mutual aims in learning, experiencing and understanding China. To this end, as Vice-President, I look forward to helping build solid bridges between, within and across Yenching Scholars to integrate everyone into the vibrant communities of YCA and the wider Peking University community.

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Matthew Coffin, Director of Events, 5th cohort, Georgia, USA: I’m excited to be the Director of Events for this year’s GSU! Events are opportunities to unite the Yenching community, explore and spotlight the diverse cultural traditions that Yenching scholars treasure, and help people relax and de-stress. As Director of Events, I look forward to planning events that will bring people together and help them make unforgettable memories together.

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Natalia Jandzikova, Director of Operations, 5th cohort, Slovakia. This year, it is my pleasure to be GSU Director of Operations. In the role of Director of Operations, I am determined to improve coordination of GSU events, create further cooperation between YCA and other PKU departments, promote new options in the field of logistics as well as create YCA merchandise.

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Yunzhi Liu, Director of Academic Affairs, 5th cohort, Jiangsu, China: It's my honor to be elected as the Director of Academic Affairs this year. Academic research about China is one of the main reasons that gather us together here as well as the primary target of this fascinating program. During my time in this position, I will help clear the obstacles to scholars’ academic exploration at YCA and attempt to bridge the language gap to realize more interaction with the whole PKU research community.

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Hana Lord, Director of Sports, 4th cohort, North Carolina, USA: Sports at Yenching Academy provide a critical avenue for us to build relationships with each other and the broader Peking University community, particularly through intra-school tournaments and seasonal Sports Days. From my own experiences playing basketball, football, and ultimate frisbee during my time at YCA, I fully believe in the potential of sports to overcome cultural differences, strengthen friendships, and overall enrich our lives. As Director of Sports, I am excited to support established and burgeoning athletes, in addition to helping with other GSU projects and events throughout the year.

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Igor Silva, Director of Public Relations, 5th cohort, Brazil: I've worked for six years as a professional journalist in my country, traveled the world as a news correspondent, and wrote a nonfiction book. It was because of my experience in journalism that I decided to run Public Relations at the GSU. Extracurricular activities, events, and even academic affairs always depend on an effective communication strategy. As Director of Public Relations at GSU, I intend to use my knowledge to further improve the representation of my fellow cohorters at YCA, PKU, and the off-campus community.

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