On October 19, 2013 the University Beijing Office hosted an alumni gathering to highlight China 100, a yearlong celebration honoring the first students from China and the wealth of connections that have come since. Dozens of alumni, from diverse academic backgrounds and generations, met at the Wing Café in Beijing to hear about the celebration and shared touching, warm, and impressive stories. The alumni were very enthusiastic about China 100 and the Beijing Office staff declared the get-together a big success!
The Beijing Office staff introduced alumni to the China 100 celebration by focusing on the University’s rich 100-year history with China, focusing on distinguished Chinese alumni from various fields including agriculture, botany, chemistry, economics, geology, physics, physiology, and higher education, among others. Did you know that the University of Minnesota Chinese Student Union was established in 1915?! Or, that the University sent its first delegation to China in 1979, the very first year China opened itself to the rest of the world? Comprehensive research collaboration, educational partnerships and friendships have flourished since these early events, and alumni expressed excitement for what the next 100 years may bring.
As part of China 100, alumni are being asked to share their stories to be a part of the University’s historic collection. Alumni were able to share their experiences and memories about their time at the University during the gathering. Nearly every alumnus acknowledged that studying at the University was a life-changing experience and changed their view of themselves and the world, from one perspective or another. One alumnus recalled that in his first days after arriving at the University, and apparently radiating his culture shock, a University staff member gave him a warm hug and assured him that “everything will be fine tomorrow”--it was a simple gesture of support that profoundly cheered him up and helped him move forward with the challenges he was facing. Another alumnus shared his story on how the University helped him find his interest in charity work and cultivated him in both academically and professionally. His story raised great interests among the alumni group and inspired a lively discussion about the role of charity work in Chinese society. A common theme from alumni stories was “high academic standards,” specifically the high academic quality of professors and academic programs at the University, which are still deeply cherished by alumni. Many of the alumni noted the corollary professional benefits.
As part of the agenda, the Beijing Office staff demonstrated how to “share your story” and “nominate distinguished alumni” via forms on the China 100 website, and encouraged every alumni to participate. For those of you unable to attend the event, please take the time to share your story at www.china100.umn.edu.
In conclusion, the Beijing Office staff would like to express our thanks to all the alumni who participated, especially to the many new faces at the event. You all made it a great success! We look forward to the next event, and as always, if you'd like to organize or co-host an event with us, please contact the Beijing Office at email@example.com.