Hideo NATSUME is an AFLSP and MIO Asian Scholar currently pursuing a postgraduate degree in public policy and management at Tsinghua University.  Having moved from Japan to China at an early age, he believes that his cross-cultural background allows him to be an effective bridge between the two nations.

While he was an undergraduate student at Tsinghua University, Hideo made an important personal observation: he noticed that Chinese students were fascinated by Japanese culture—its cuisine, manga, and anime—while Japanese students did not always reciprocate this interest, and instead often had limited knowledge of, or even negative views towards China.

“After meeting fellow Tsinghua students who shared my views and observations, I decided that we needed to do something,” says Hideo.  “We shouldn’t just let an issue remain an issue.  We should take action and try to come up with solutions.”  Determined to strengthen Sino-Japanese relations from the bottom up, he launched Dot STATION in 2017, an organization that aims to connect Japanese high school students with China and encourage them to “see China with their own eyes.”  During the “Dot STATION Summer Tour 2018 @ Beijing” last year, 16 students from all across Japan had the opportunity to visit various sites in Beijing to learn about China’s technological innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities.  One student was so inspired by her experience that she applied to study abroad in China and will soon be a Peking University student.

After completing his master’s degree, Hideo plans to work in both Beijing and Tokyo and hopes to grow Dot STATION by collaborating with more Japanese high schools and expanding the program and its curriculum.

“Although governments might not share common values, we scholars do,” says Hideo, who met many Japanese scholars passionate about embracing diversity during the BXAI Summer Program.  “I hope to promote sustainable development among East Asian countries and preserve the commonalities in culture that we have shared throughout history.”

BXAI Summer Program 2019 Preview

The BXAI Summer Program 2019 will be held in Japan from August 7 to 21.  Hosted by Kyoto University, around 90 AFLSP scholars will come together to explore the theme of “Harmonious Coexistence” as they examine regional issues, engage in cross-cultural dialogues, and build community.

The Summer Program will kick off in Osaka, where scholars will participate in experts-led panel discussions and leadership training sessions, as well as various team building challenges and an improvisation workshop, which will encourage them to exercise their teamwork skills, develop confidence, and form new friendships.  Scholars will then immerse themselves in Japanese history and tradition through a visit to Gifu Prefecture, home to UNESCO World Heritage Site, Shirakawa-go village.

During the second week, students will spend time studying East Asia’s unique landscape through focused topic learning sessions and lectures delivered by influential guest speakers at Kyoto University.  In addition, they will participate in a variety of fun, hands-on activities and workshops designed for personal development and enrichment.  The third Bai Xian Alumni Initiative Award will also be held this week, with finalist teams pitching their ideas before a judging panel and an audience of scholars for a chance to win a cash prize and seed funding.

On the final day of the Summer Program, scholars will share their research and learnings through group presentations before joining the greater Bai Xian community for an evening of celebration at our closing ceremony and gala dinner.

Learn more about the BXAI Summer Program here!


Gaby CHAN is a Singaporean AFLSP Scholar currently pursuing a postgraduate degree in public administration at Zhejiang University.  Her study abroad experience has shown her the value of cross-cultural bonds and has taught her that looking beyond differences is the first step to effecting change in the world.

Hungry for perspective and adventure, Gaby began her studies at Zhejiang University with the hope of acquiring a more global and macroscopic view of public security and policy, an area she had been working in for five years.  Little did she know that one of her biggest takeaways would be personally experiencing the power of friendship to bridge people from vastly different backgrounds.

“My time at Zhejiang University has allowed me to see friendship, something we often take for granted, from a new point of view,” says Gaby, who goes on to recall one small but significant event.  “We were celebrating the birthday of a South Korean classmate one day at the dorm, and a North Korean student happened to walk by.  After wishing our friend a happy birthday, he left, but later extended a small gift to our friend through a mutual acquaintance.  The gift was a notebook, which was inscribed with that day’s date. We later realized that our friend’s birthday coincided with the day that the North and South Korean leaders met and shook hands on the demilitarized zone.  I was struck not by the gift, nor the political significance of the day, but by this student’s bold gesture of good will towards an otherwise unlikely ally.”

Reflecting back on the occasion, Gaby realized that boundaries and cultural norms often can, but should not, work to separate people.  “While we cannot choose where we come from, we can choose between friendship and alienation, and shape the kind of world we want to live in,” says Gaby.  “We can effect change in our world – one friendship at a time.”

After graduation, Gaby plans to continue her work in public security.  She looks forward to applying the knowledge and experiences she has garnered from her time abroad to further her long-term career goals, and hopes to eventually pursue her research interests in social resilience and non-traditional security.

Li Kuanghan

Li Kuanghan, director of the China Heritage Program at the Global Heritage Fund, shares about how she transitioned into heritage preservation midway through her architecture career. As the field requires the support of people with a wide range of skills, she encourages students interested in conservation to get involved early on to explore how they may contribute their own skills to this important cause.

Koinobori Festival

Last Monday, members of the Kyoto Chapter of the BXAI Alumni Association journeyed to nearby Takatsuki City to participate in the Koinobori Festa 1000, a traditional Japanese festival that celebrates Children’s Day by hanging over 1000 carp-shaped windsocks in the sky.  Our Kyoto scholars immersed themselves in the rich local culture as they enjoyed performances and Japanese snacks at the festival, while also taking the opportunity to explore the city afterwards by visiting Takatsuki Castle Ruins Park and the Municipal History Museum.  “By taking part in local events, foreign students are able to gain a deeper understanding of Japanese history, culture, and community,” says AFLSP Scholar, Pan Weikang.

Building Bridges Across Food Cultures

Last Saturday, the Beijing Chapter of our BXAI Alumni Association organized a fun cooking party at the Tsinghua University Asian Youth Center.  It was a delectable journey for the taste buds as scholars prepared and sampled a variety of traditional Asian dishes from different countries while enjoying fellowship with one another.

TSURU Miyuki

Looking back at her BXAI Summer Program experience, Miyuki Tsuru, a Japanese AFLSP Scholar studying at Peking University, recalls how a speaker at the AIA Entrepreneurship Workshop inspired her to approach her career plans from a refreshingly new perspective.

Ohanami in Kyoto

The Kyoto Chapter of our BXAI Alumni Association gathered at Heian Shrine last Wednesday to celebrate the beginning of spring and the arrival of Kyoto’s much-anticipated cherry blossom season.

Catching Up with Scholars and Alumni in Beijing

We had a great time connecting with some of our AFLSP Scholars last weekend at the Yenching Global Symposium, a three-day academic conference hosted by the Yenching Academy of Peking University (YCA) and fully funded by Bai Xian Education Foundation.  Outside the conference, we also had the chance to catch up with other Beijing-based scholars and alumni, many of whom shared about their study abroad experiences and efforts to build bridges across cultures both within and beyond the Bai Xian community.

Our thanks to YCA for hosting us, and a special thanks goes to Ms. Angela Cheung of our Communication and Development Committee, who helped capture the interviews with our scholars and alumni on camera.  Watch this space for more videos coming soon!

Spring in Bloom

Last Sunday, the Tokyo Chapter of our newly launched BXAI Alumni Association welcomed the spring season by taking part in ohanami, the traditional Japanese custom of cherry blossom viewing. Tokyo-based scholars and alumni, along with their family and friends, gathered at Yogogi Park for a fun and relaxing picnic under the beautiful cherry blossoms. Stay tuned for more alumni events coming up in your area soon!