Through Our Door | Zhongshu Yang: 2017 Yenching Scholar

Deeply impressed by the delicate yard of Jingyuan, Zhongshu had been longing to study in Yenching Academy ever since her admission interview. The memories she cherishes most of Jingyuan are ordinary but touching moments of taking classes and being a teaching assistant, twice enjoying the autumn scenery accompanied by different people inside Jingyuan. She recognizes Jingyuan as a shared memory of all Yenching Scholars, providing students with confidence and courage to move on in their futures.

Q: What was your impression of Jingyuan?

A: My first impression of Jingyuan was probably as early as when I came to Peking University to participate in the first round of interviews for Yenching Academy in June 2016. When I first saw Jingyuan, I thought it was really a unique little house, and I felt I would consider myself very fortunate if I could study in it in the future. At that time, I was particularly looking forward to being admitted to Yenching Academy so that I could study in Jingyuan.

I met Jingyuan again when I enrolled in September 2017, and then I gradually gained a deeper understanding of it. The three words that best describe Jingyuan in my mind are tranquil, delicate and colorful.

Q: What do you think is the uniqueness of Jingyuan architecture?

A: The architecture of Jingyuan is indeed very different from that of my undergraduate school. I used to think that architecture in the north [of China] is crudely designed and built. My undergraduate school—Zhejiang University—is in Hangzhou, which is to the south of the Yangtze River. Supposedly, the architecture in Zhejiang University should be very exquisite, with the delicacy of a southern Yangtze water town. But maybe because our undergraduate school is located in a new campus built in 2002, the facilities inside are particularly modern, lacking the antique charm. Moreover, Zhejiang University is a school that specializes in science and engineering, so the humanistic atmosphere there is probably not so prevalent.

When we went to Xi'an for a field trip in 2017, we also saw many ancient buildings, but Jingyuan was different from them. I have spent two years in Jingyuan, so my feelings for it are certainly very deep. In addition, during my two years of study at Jingyuan and Yenching Academy, personal experiences of interactions with teachers and classmates and the various in-class and extracurricular activities integrated with the small garden of Jingyuan, and that’s why I have such a special feeling for it.

Q: Do you have any unforgettable memories of Jingyuan?

A: In the first semester of 2017, I took “Selected Readings of Confucian Classics” by Professor Qingnan Meng, and I was really impressed by this course. One day, I walked into the classroom and looked through the window. It was autumn at that time, at about 4 p.m. in the afternoon. The setting sun touched the red leaves, and the surroundings were remarkably quiet. I saw the changes in light and shadow, including the color of the leaves turning from green to yellow and then to red. That moment gave me a lasting impression; at that time, everything in front of me seemed ordinary but breathtakingly beautiful. Then we learned Confucian classics in this quaint little building in Jingyuan, and discussed with Chinese and foreign classmates, which was also a wonderful experience. During my second year at Yenching Academy, I was fortunate enough to become a teaching assistant for this course, and in the autumn of 2018, I had a similar experience again. I felt that as time passed year by year, the people in the yard were changing, but Jingyuan was always there, witnessing the coming and going of seasons.

Q: What do you think Jingyuan means to Yenching Scholars?

A: I graduated almost two years ago. As an alumna of Yenching Academy, I think Jingyuan may be a shared memory for all Yenching Scholars. Even though I graduated so long ago, every time I think of the wisteria in Jingyuan, see the WeChat public account of Yenching Academy, or see posts about Jingyuan by some teachers, I always feel that I can travel back in time to our two years of life inside Jingyuan, and I will think of a lot of experiences of studying and living here and the intimate friends I made here. It strikes me that these kinds of memories give us the strength to move forward, because we know that our teachers, our senior schoolmates, fellow cohorters, and junior schoolmates are all a source of strength to us. Their encouragement and support have given us the confidence and courage to forge ahead, and I think this is the greatest influence of Jingyuan on the atmosphere of the school.

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