Why you should apply for Peking University’s Yenching Academy Global Symposium


peking university yinching

In 2016 Peking University’s Yenching Academy hosted its inaugural Yenching Global Symposium: “China meets the world, the world comes to China”. The four day symposium brought together the best and brightest young China scholars from across the globe for guest lectures with prominent Chinese and international intellectuals and business people, site seeing and networking events. 200 delegates attended the inaugural Symposium, including 48 international delegates and 152 Yenching Academy and Peking University delegates. Asia Options’ Co-founder Olly Theobald chats to Declan Davis and Alice Slevison about their experiences at the Symposium.

Applications for the 2018 Yenching Global SymposiumRenaissance” close 11:59pm (China Standard Time), 30 November 2017. Applications are open to postgraduate students and young professionals who are aged 30 or under. Successful international delegates will have their flights, meals and accommodation covered by the Yenching Academy!



Declan Davis: 2016 Yenching Academy Scholar 

My name is Declan Davis and I grew up in Perth, Western Australia. After finishing high school in Perth I was lucky enough to study Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the University of Oxford. After that I came to Beijing to study at Peking University. I have been learning Mandarin since then and would say I am a low-intermediate level speaker.


Can you tell us about the Peking University Yenching Academy, and your reasons for applying for its Masters programme?

The Yenching Academy is a multidisciplinary masters programme created by Peking University with the stated goal of attracting young leaders from around the world to learn about China from within. I applied to Yenching because, having grown up in Perth, China has had an important outside force on my life from a young age. I wanted to take the opportunity while I was young to expand my knowledge of a country that is obviously going to be pivotal to world affairs in my lifetime. I also wanted to develop my language skills as I think it is important as a native English speaker to have a second language.


What has been your highlight of the 2016 inaugural Peking University Yenching Academy Symposium?

The highlight of the symposium for me was the opportunity to listen to Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd speak. It was an interesting opportunity to hear him speak about a passion of his, rather than a necessary political topic. Mr. Rudd’s engagement with China spans many years, and it was interesting to understand the role that the China Chapter of his life played in his future career in politics and now as an Academic.

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Meeting former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd


What tips would you have for young Australians interested in applying to attend the 2017 Yenching Global Symposium?

If you are interested in applying to the Yenching Academy Symposium I would strongly advise that you think about what is it about you that makes you unique with respect to other applicants: What can you bring that others cannot? What experiences have you had that other people may not have? What have you done that others may not have?

All of the applicants will be smart and will have done interesting things. That is why it is so critical to focus on the ways in which you will bring something different above and beyond pure intelligence and CV-related stuff. If you can hone in on that, and if you can turn the diversity of your experiences into a strength of your application, then I think that will put you in good stead.


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Alice Slevison: 2016 Yenching Global Symposium Delegate


Why did you apply for YGS 2016?

I decided to apply for the Yenching Global Symposium because of my interest in the Yenching Academy. There was quite a lot of hype surrounding the opening of the Yenching Academy in 2015, so I thought the YGS would be a great opportunity to learn more about the Academy, and meet some fantastic young China watchers!

What was your highlight from the Inaugural Yenching Global Symposium?

One highlight from the Symposium was having the opportunity to listen to Kaiser Kuo, former Director of International Communications at Baidu and Sinica podcast host, share his thoughts on internet censorship in China. As a regular Sinica listener, it was amazing to meet Kaiser in person! Another highlight was listening to Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd discuss the Chinese economy. Prime Minister Rudd treated the audience to his much lauded Chinese language skills, which was a real crowd pleaser.

I do however think the highlight for myself, and for all of the international delegates flown to Beijing for the Symposium, was the opportunity to meet other young people who share an interest in China. The international delegates, Yenching Scholars and Peking University Guanghua MBA students were all leaders in their chosen fields, and it was a real pleasure to meet a group of such talented and inspiring individuals.


What tips would you have for young Australians interested in applying to attend YGS in 2017?

YGS is quite competitive, with only 48 international delegates chosen out of 1,500 applicants in 2016, so it’s vital to spend time writing a well thought out application. It’s important to write an application that not only showcases your academic/ professional successes, but one that demonstrates how you engage with China in your home country.

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Kasier Kuo addressing the audience


Applications for the 2018 Yenching Global SymposiumRenaissance” close 11:59pm (China Standard Time), 30 November 2017.  Follow on Facebook and Twitter.


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