Six undergraduate students from Tsinghua University's School of Economics and Management (Tsinghua SEM) were invited to Bangkok, Thailand, to participate in the 11th University Scholars Leadership Symposium 2023, organized by the United Nations Humanitarian Affairs Asia on August 1 to 4, 2023.
From left to right: WANG Jiaxi, SHI Ningjing, WANG Yinghan, Professor ZHANG Ting, ZHU Wenhang, ZENG Ziqing, and MA Feiyang from the Class of 2024, Tsinghua SEM pose for a photo during the 11th University Scholars Leadership Symposium in 2023.
The University Scholars Leadership Symposium is designed for the new generation of young leaders to better understand the challenges faced in global development, and to enhance youth confidence and leadership. In this edition of the symposium, attended by more than 400 young representatives from 46 countries and regions, six undergraduate students from Tsinghua SEM participated in the exchange and practical activities with strong support from their school and faculty. They collaborated with youth delegates from various countries and regions on key topics, honed their comprehensive skills, broadened their international vision, and fostered friendships.
Tsinghua SEM representatives listened to seven keynote speeches during the symposium, learning how outstanding individuals from around the world impact society, inspire change, and foster progress in different ways. Among them, Ifrah Ahmed from Somalia shared her efforts to end female genital mutilation, triggering profound reflections on women's rights and social justice. Sangduen Lek Chailert from Thailand, founder of the Save Elephant Foundation, showed how one can make significant contributions to society through animal conservation. Felipe Queipo, communications officer of the Department of Global Communications (DGC) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, emphasized the vital role of individuals in solving global issues and encouraged the representatives to become involved in international affairs.
A photo shows the 11th University Scholars Leadership Symposium is underway.
During the workshop segment, representatives from Tsinghua SEM participated in thematic discussions and exchanges with United Nations officials. Among them, ZENG Ziqing showcased her team's work during a workshop on disaster prevention and reduction, offering youthful insights into developing a layered healthcare system and an information-based early warning system. MA Feiyang spoke during the refugee workshop about the relationship between the UN Refugee Agency and governments of various countries while interacting with relevant officials. These six student representatives learned through their dialogues and expressed a commitment to integrating their new insights into learning and practice, with the goal of becoming influential future leaders.
During the Kindness Day event, student representatives participated in activities to reflect on how they can truly bring change to the world through service and dedication. On August 3, SHI Ningjing and WANG Yinghan traveled to the outskirts of Bangkok to paint a mural for Suroutmaijaroen School, a Muslim school facing financial challenges. They collaborated with representatives from different countries to complete a painting of the Seven Wonders of the World. This mural adds color to the school but also serves as an educational tool to help students understand different cultures and enhance their knowledge of the world.
Participants who worked on a mural for Suroutmaijaroen School pose for a photo.
WANG Jiaxi, ZHU Wenhang, MA Feiyang, and ZENG Ziqing went to the local Chao Phraya Canal to volunteer in river cleaning and water ecosystem protection. The volunteers paddled kayaks and navigated through channels, collecting floating debris and garbage left by tourists and residents. The students, together with their international friends, paddled hand in hand and received a warm welcome and praise from residents on both sides of the canal.
Students pose for a photo while working on the Chao Phraya Canal to collect floating garbage.
"I witnessed firsthand the threats to the ecological integrity of the canal's water source, which made me deeply realize the importance of protecting the ecology," said WANG Jiaxi. "Although it was hard work picking up garbage, I recognized that each and every one of us has the ability to make a positive change for the environment. I hope to continue spreading the philosophy of green living through practical actions and encourage more people to pay attention to ecological issues."
During the four-day event, Tsinghua SEM student representatives formed friendships with young delegates from various places such as Mauritius, the United Arab Emirates, Fiji, and more. They came from different universities and had a passion for and unique insights into different academic disciplines, and also showed a keen interest in Chinese culture. Besides their fellow youth participants, the venue was also filled with old friends who were familiar with China. Professor Eric Roeder, from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), has been conducting extensive research on green occupations. Reflecting on his six years of visiting and studying in Beijing, he said China has become a pioneer in global green transformation.
ZHU Wenhang, a representative from Tsinghua SEM, expressed his sentiment, saying, "As long as we have a vision to make the world a better place and work together, we can truly create a better world." As they bid farewell, delegates from various countries made mutual agreements to visit each other in the future.
This Symposium delved into topics such as global warming, poverty, inequality, and youth responsibility with in-depth discussions. Through activities like Kindness Day and workshops, it facilitated communication and greatly enhanced the development of youth participants' capabilities and values.
"The symposium allowed me to see more dimensions of world cultures," said SHI Ningjing, "But my biggest takeaway is that the expectation for a more harmonious and inclusive world remains consistent across different cultural contexts." WANG Yinghan also said: "Through this event, we listened to voices from different countries and fully addressed each other's concerns. I hope to have future opportunities to continue exchanging ideas with everyone."