Through Our Door | Duanling Fu: 2015 Yenching Scholar

Duanling Fu graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Wuhan University. As a self-described “pioneer” who loves trying new things, Duanling joined Yenching Academy in 2015 as a member of the 1st cohort. In her eyes, Jingyuan can be understood as the quiet witness of many enthusiastic and intense discussions on China that have taken place amongst students.

Q: What is your first impression of Jingyuan?

A: The most immediate impression that came to mind is its tranquility. The first time I visited Jingyuan was to attend the Yenching Academy summer camp for prospective postgraduate candidates. I was impressed by its central location on campus, the spacious lawn nearby, and the simple but serene architectural style.

Q: Are there differences between the architectural styles of Jingyuan and your undergraduate institution?

A: The overall architectural style of Peking University is very classical, elegant, and unadorned, reminiscent of the traditional Chinese style. The architectural style of my undergraduate university, Wuhan University, distinctly combines both Chinese and Western architectural styles, which is quite different from Peking University. The main buildings of Wuhan University were designed by an American architect who integrated Western architectural concepts with Chinese features, such as symmetry and “tianyuan difang” (a traditional Chinese philosophical saying, commonly translated as “round Heaven and square earth,” that associates round shapes with Heaven and square shapes with earth). The campus is characterized not only by traditional Chinese-style buildings but also by Western style ones. I think the architectural styles of the two schools are very different. As Peking University moved into the former campus of Yenching University, the campus has a much longer history compared to Wuhan University. Walking around Peking University’s campus feels like you’re wandering through its history.

Q: Were there any events held in Jingyuan that left a particularly deep impression on you?

A: What has left the greatest impression on me is the autonomy that the office gave us, the first cohort of students, to independently organize activities. As the first cohort of the Yenching Academy, we were not limited by an established framework for holding activities. Everyone actively took initiative to come up with interesting projects together. At the time, a few international scholars and I wanted to start a podcast named Y-Cast, with “Y” for Yen and “C” for ching and cast. We had several meetings and discussions and also communicated with the Yenching Academy office about devices. As graduation was approaching, all of us became quite busy, so this project ultimately did not come to fruition. However, many discussions like this one took place in Jingyuan.

Q: Where is your favorite place of Jingyuan?

A: My favorite spot is the balcony on the second floor of Jingyuan courtyard 3. I used to go there with my colleagues in the Graduate Student Union to take pictures. The sunshine on the balcony was soothing, and the environment was wonderful. On weekends or when we did not have classes, we would bring our laptops to the balcony to do schoolwork and drink coffee in the sunshine. Sometimes, Yenching Academy-invited guest speakers would take group photos with us on the balcony after the event. Therefore, for me, that is a place full of memories.

Q: What is the most beautiful hour of a day in Jingyuan?

A: I think the balcony of Jingyuan is particularly beautiful when the sun sets. From where, you can often see people walk on the lawn outside, kids from nearby communities running and laughing, sweet couples on dates, as well as people reading books. Especially as graduation draws near, many graduates will take photos here. On the balcony, you’re able to see all kinds of people coming and going, which is always very interesting.

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