BAI XIAN | AFLSP Awardees from PKU Visit Shanghai

June 26–28, ten awardees of the Asian Future Leaders Scholarship Program (AFLSP) from PKU Yenching Academy, the School of International Studies, and the School of Government recently immersed themselves in Shanghai, savoring the quiet beauty of the city’s lanes and enjoying the breathtaking sights at the Bund.

Organized by Yenching Academy, the tour group was led by Prof. Fan Shiming, Associate Dean of YCA. Staff from the Academy’s Student Affairs Office and Curriculum and Scholarship Office also joined the trip.

The Visit to Shanghai Jiao Tong University

The PKU group first joined their counterparts at the Xuhui Campus of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) on the afternoon of June 26. The event was chaired by Xu Yunfan, Deputy Director of the International Student Services Center, SJTU. Li Yi, Deputy Secretary-General of the Education Development Foundation, SJTU; Lin Yuzhen, Associate Professor of the School of Foreign Languages; and Du Mei, Director of Programs of the Education Development Foundation, SJTU, attended the event. Five Bai Xian Scholars of SJTU were also invited to the event.

Deputy Secretary-General Li Yi extended a warm welcome to the PKU group. Both sides exchanged ideas on their BXIAN Programs and BXIAN Curriculum. Prof. Lin Yuzhen delivered a lecture titled “Global Competence”. The lecture began with the professor testing the participating students’ aptitude in the English listening part of China’s college entrance examination. The test questions were challenging, comprising sentence structures that differed from everyday English vocabulary. Through this, the professor showed our scholars the importance of using simple, easy-to-understand languages for intercultural communications in a global context. Prof. Lin then introduced the Global Competence model and its six core competencies.

The participating Bai Xian Scholars had a good talk after the lecture. Nguyen Dang Dao, a PKU Bai Xian Scholar from Vietnam, once co-organized international forums and found that Chinese and international students communicate differently. Young scholars from diverse cultures meet and exchange ideas under the BXIAN Program, thus forging a stronger core competency of “openness and respect”.

The PKU group later had a campus tour of Shanghai Jiao Tong University. SJTU has grown from the Nanyang Mission College, founded in Shanghai in 1896. The well-preserved historical buildings on the campus depict the university’s history. The SJTU Xuhui Campus is nestled in Shanghai’s bustling downtown and is like a quiet arc in the busy city. The Bai Xian Scholars enjoyed a tour of the campus’ ancient architecture and history.

The Visit to Hongkong Land

On the afternoon of June 27, the PKU group visited the Hongkong Land’s West Bund Site in Xuhui District. The West Bund on the Huangpu River was a major industrial hub in Shanghai. Now, it is transforming into an international waterfront area of media, arts, finance, sci-tech, and leisure. Hongkong Land invested approximately 60 billion yuan in the West Bund Financial City, which expands along the Huangpu River for nearly 1.4 kilometers. The construction volume is approximately 1.8 million square meters above the ground, housing premium malls, residences, hotels, offices, and cultural facilities.

The PKU group better understood the property by observing the site’s plan on a platform holding the blueprint of a world-class financial city. Our Bai Xian Scholars raised questions on the Financial City, including its eco-design for energy saving, measures to meet public demands, and ROI issues.

A Diving into Shanghai’s History and Local Culture

The PKU group delved into Shanghai’s history and local culture through historic monuments in the city.

It is also worth adding that earlier that day, the group visited the Memorial of the First National Congress of the Communist Party of China to learn about the CPC’s history. The group enjoyed a guided tour of the ancient jade gallery at Shanghai Museum. Zhang Jun, a museum staff, gave a detailed introduction to the jadeware’s history and cultural meanings. Our Bai Xian Scholars were fascinated by the exquisite jade artefacts.

On the morning of June 28, the group embarked on a city walk on the Wukang Road, which boasts 14 historic buildings, including former residences of the renowned Chinese writer Ba Jin and the Chinese revolutionary Huang Xing. It was a stroll back to the past. The students admired the well-preserved historic buildings and, while listening to the guide’s descriptions, attempted to envision and experience the stories that once unfolded within those houses and along that road. After that, the group went to the former residence of Soong Chingling, admiring her efforts for peace and social advancement.

Bai Xian Scholars’ Words

Watanabe Eka (Japan), PKU Bai Xian Scholar, 2022: Shanghai is like an old friend because my father is from here. This tour has helped me better understand the city. I like this field study, particularly our visit to the Shanghai Museum. Mr. Zhang Jun from the museum gave us an extraordinarily guided tour, and I learned much about the history of jade artefacts. It’s intriguing to discover the various meanings a single gem holds in religion and history. Even more fascinating is learning about the significance of an inscription on the interior of a vase.

Daryl Lahm (Singapore), YCA Bai Xian Scholar, 2022: I like this tour of history, culture, and modern society. I appreciate the visit to the site of the First National Congress of the CPC. It showed how important Shanghai is to China’s modernization journey. For me, it’s great to travel and study together with other Bai Xian Scholars. It’s a precious opportunity to learn about other Bai Xian Scholars. I’m happy to meet the Bai Xian Scholars from SJTU. It’s a great experience. I am grateful to our YCA teachers for this remarkable trip.

Nguyen Dang Dao (Vietnam), YCA Bai Xian Scholar, 2021: I loved this trip to Shanghai as it perfectly combined a dive into academia, industry, and culture. The visit to Hongkong Land was my best part because my research focuses on urbanization and waterfront development. I read a lot about the development of Chinese and Asian cities. On this trip, I witnessed an urban development project in Shanghai firsthand and gained more profound insights into such projects in China. It’s a precious chance to see how a single company prepared for and launched such a large project over a decade.

Asian Future Leaders Scholarship Program (AFLSP)

The Bai Xian Education Foundation (BXEF) was established by Mr. Ronald Kee Young Chao in 2014 with a mission to fund and support the development of the Bai Xian Asia Institute (BXAI) and the Asian Future Leaders Scholarship Program (AFLSP). The AFLSP aims to foster the next generation of leaders, promote communications and understanding between high-caliber scholars of Asia, and contribute to relationships and the coordinated development of Asia and the world. To this end, Yenching Academy of Peking University arranges diverse extracurricular events for PKU Bai Xian Scholars to create intercultural opportunities for young Asian scholars and build stronger bonds among PKU Bai Xian Scholars and between them and the university.

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