Dean Yuan Ming Delivers 2021 New Year Speech

Dear Yenching Scholars, members of Yenching community, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends,


Together, we embrace the dawn of 2021 and welcome the New Year.

Together, we depart from 2020, a year full of tribulation and struggle, but which also saw mutual support, joint efforts, and heroic works.

The Covid-19 pandemic, which has shaken up our normal routines, is definitely a wake-up call to all of us. We are living in a world much more closely connected than ever before, neither as an individual, nor a community, can stay away from global challenges that affect us all. Short-sightedness in isolation, or isolationism, would only end mankind’s progress and development. We have no other choice but collaboration.

As an international community, the Yenching Academy of Peking University stands firmly on its original goal as a cross-cultural, cross-disciplinary institution of higher education. Though separated by geography across the globe, we succeeded in teaching and learning, in thesis writing, in creating happy hours, even in organizing sports games, of course, all online.

We have 19 courses this semester. Our young scholars display their remarkable academic interests in reading, presentation, and engaging each other in a heated discussion. We fully understand how hard they have been working so far, especially for those who join classes at the midnight because of the time difference. Together, 128 scholars now focus on their thesis, guided and supervised by the meticulous efforts of 59 mentors across 26 schools and departments all over the Peking University campus.

Not long ago we held a successful “YCA Olympics”. It consisted of 5 events: running, steps, planking, push-ups, and freestyle events. Over 90 scholars from both the 5th and 6th cohorts took part and submitted 250 videos. In total, the participants covered over 3 million steps, ran over 400km, and planked for over 50 hours across the whole week. As the RA team observed, “although many scholars are very competitive, prizes and rankings were not the main reason to drive them here. Instead, they were motivated by doing a little bit better every day.

This is the essence of the human spirit.

This “all online” phenomenon opens a new horizon.

A new era is coming more quickly and dramatically than we expected.

Cross-cultural capabilities will be more in demand.

Creativity is the key, but joint creativity will lead the wave of the future.

We all look forward to your creative work. We are so encouraged by the planning of the 2021 YGS in April “Shared Renewal: Recoupling East with West.” It sounds inspiring and carries your wisdom and vision.

Wisdom and vision are the qualities that help people overcome hard times, and teach us how to share. On a recent trip in Southern China, an alumnus of the Yenching Academy shared with me his love and fond memories by giving me this specimen. It’s called “bougainvillea”. With its origin in Latin America, this flower now flourishes anywhere in the world with enough sunshine. I would like to introduce this to all of you, and let’s share love, friendship, to do our best to build up our gardens around.

All the best for a fruitful 2021!

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