A Summer with 100 Sages: Building a Network for Asian Future Leaders
Home to thousands of international students every year, National Taiwan University (NTU) also runs more than 18 programs each summer. This year, NTU was honored to have organized the 2017 Bai Xian Asian Institute (BXAI) Summer Program, which brought together more than 117 young scholars from 17 different countries to Taiwan for a 3-week (July 31-Aug 16) onsite learning and exploration venture.
Founded in January 2014, BXAI is committed to promoting equality of opportunity, maintaining social justice, advocating charity, promoting social evolution, and respecting regional and global diversification as the basis for cross-cultural understanding. To facilitate this goal, BXAI launched the Asian Future Leaders Scholarship Program (AFLSP), offering full scholarships for students to study at 16 leading universities in Asia, including Peking University, Zhejiang University, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Kyoto University, and National Taiwan University. One of the highlights of this program is to foster closer ties between Asian neighbor countries, and the best way to build this community of the AFLSP scholars is to physically bring them together during the summer.
Based on common core values, NTU and BXAI began their partnership in 2014, when Deputy Vice President for International Affairs, Prof. Bennett Fu (傅友祥), went to Shanghai to sign the Memorandum of Understanding. After the signing ceremony, Deputy Vice President for International Affairs, Prof. Jiun-Huei Proty Wu (吳俊輝), attended the First BXAI Day in Hangzhou for the development of an Asian scholarship program. In 2015, Prof. Luisa Shu-Ying Chang (張淑英), Vice President for International Affairs, flew to Zhejiang to witness the first BXAI summer program. Impressed by the hybrid student entrepreneurs, Vice President Chang approached BXAI with the proposition to host the 2017 BXAI Summer Program. Just last year, Chang led a delegation of nine people from NTU’s Office of International Affairs to observe and learn from 2016’s host, Waseda University.
As one of the 16 partner universities in AFLSP, NTU resonates with BXAI’s value in “building bridges across cultures” and has created an interactive platform for intercultural education and life-long friendship. With combined efforts from BXAI and NTU’s Office of International Affairs, the Program has been designed based on three principles: leadership, critical thinking, and creativity. Since its establishment in 2014, this Program has recruited a network of more than 500 people.
Going hand in hand with this year’s theme of “Sustainability and Entrepreneurship,” the 117 scholars began their retreat at one of NTU’s largest campuses, Xitou Nature Education Area, where they were encouraged to step outside of their comfort zone and begin building comradeship. Faced with team challenges and tasks (e.g., plowing the land, sanding wood, and tree climbing), BXAI students were able to leave the classroom, get hands on experience, and develop a connection with our environment. Upon their return, they participated in soft skill learning, panel discussions, and problem solving activities at NTU’s D-school. At NTU, they were also given the opportunity to visit the headquarters of O’right (歐萊德), an eco-friendly cosmetics company, and enjoy other optional leisure activities such as climbing the Elephant Mountain to get a glimpse of Taipei from above.
The Program concluded on August 16 with a closing ceremony held at NTU’s Global Initiatives Symposium Convention Center. President Ching-Ray Chang (張慶瑞) joined the celebration and told the audience that BXAI and NTU share the same mission for intercultural collaboration. Vice President Chang, also the Head of the Program Organizing Committee at NTU, expressed her joy in watching participants grow and change throughout the Program. She reminded the scholars of today’s fast-changing society and encouraged them that the greatest asset of the Program is to help them appreciate different viewpoints of each culture and become global citizens.
The success of this Program became a significant milestone to NTU and BXAI’s partnership. The closing ceremony ended with rounds of applause when Vice President Chang passed to Prof. Yang Lu (陸揚) from Peking University (PKU), next year’s host, a Chinese calligraphy album, symbolizing NTU’s successful completion of its mission and the handover to PKU. Now it is PKU’s term to pick up the baton and to keep the momentum moving.
(Source: Cher Chiu, Office of International Affairs, NTU)
Closing ceremony of the 2017 BXAI Summer Program at GIS NTU Convention Center.
A total of 117 AFLSP scholars gather at NTU to interact with the instructors.
After attending the dance class offered by NTU, BXAI students showcased what they have learned at the closing ceremony.
By organizing a summer program, BXAI aims to establish an interactive platform for facilitating constructive conversation and life-long friendship among East Asian students.
BXAI students experience working in a plant nursery at Xitou Nature Education Area.
A BXAI student climbs a tree in Xitou Nature Education Area.
A student raises a question in class.
President Ching-Ray Chang gives closing remarks at the closing ceremony of the 2017 BXAI Summer Program.
At the closing ceremony, Vice President for International Affairs, Prof. Luisa Shu-Ying Chang, encourages BXAI students to change the world through innovation.
BXAI students receive certificates of completion and take photos with Waseda Prof. Katsuichi Uchida (內田勝一) and Vice President Chang.