(Hong Kong, August 20, 2021)  Bai Xian Asia Institute (BXAI), an education organization that aims to build bridges across cultures by providing scholarships to students in Asia to study abroad at top East Asian universities, concluded its Summer Program (SP) 2021 on August 15, 2021.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s SP was held virtually from August 6 to 15, and saw the participation of 133 Bai Xian Scholars and Alumni from the 2019 and 2020 cohorts.  Although slightly adapted to accommodate an online approach, the SP remained an immersive experience designed to broaden perspectives, build community, and extend learning beyond the classroom.  Over the course of 10 days, participants delved into the theme of “Adaptation and Wellness” as they examined important post-COVID topics, participated in soft skills workshops, and enjoyed virtual cross-cultural experiences, all via a real-time, interactive online platform.  Special activities were also introduced to boost engagement, including a virtual board game that invited participants to complete daily tasks and earn points for a chance to win special prizes.


Prior to the commencement of the SP 2021, BXAI hosted two online pre-SP sessions to facilitate connections and interactions between SP participants.  An orientation was held on July 10, while an engaging team building session was held on July 31.  The SP officially launched on August 6 with an opening session that featured welcome remarks by BXAI CEO, Ms. Ronna Chao, who encouraged students to make the most of their time during the Summer Program by actively participating in all activities, interacting with speakers and guests, and making new friends.  President of BXAI, Prof. Uchida, followed with an introduction to this year’s Summer Program theme, “Adaptation and Wellness”, and spoke about the importance of contributing to the common good.  The morning concluded with an inspiring session titled “The Nature of Life is Change” led by returning keynote speaker and international orchestral conductor, Mr. Jason Lai.  Students then proceeded to take part in a variety of fun team building activities over the course of the afternoon.


The weekend kicked off with a topical webinar, “Transformation of the Asian Landscape in the Post-COVID Era”, with three guest speakers exploring changes to the Asian landscape that have, or may come about, as a result of the global pandemic, and how to focus on the future and prepare for upcoming challenges.  A series of experts-led personal development sessions followed, including a public speaking workshop, a self-awareness workshop, and a leadership workshop, each of which allowed students to harness both personal strengths and group dynamics to learn together and learn from each other.  The sessions were separated by casual lunchtime meetups named “Coffee & Chat with BX Friends”, where students had the valuable opportunity to hear from and interact with BX friends and learn from their personal insights and experiences.



The next three days were dedicated to art and wellness.  Students had an opportunity to slow down, recharge, and stimulate their creativity by participating in an origami, calligraphy, or abstract painting workshop.  Interactive “BX Podcasts” were also hosted by the BX team during lunchtimes, with students logging in to hear and share about travel stories, favorite food and music, and cultural traditions.


The final stretch of the SP 2021 included more panel discussions and webinars led by guest speakers, BX friends, and BX Alumni, covering interesting topics such as social entrepreneurship, higher education, and career journeys and aspirations.  In keeping with Summer Program tradition, a fireside chat with members of BXAI’s leadership was held on the second to last day of the SP, featuring Mr. Ronald Chao, Honorary Chairman of BXAI; Mr. Shinichiro Watari, Board and Executive Committee member of BXAI, and Chairman and CEO of Cornes Holdings (Overseas) Limited; and Ms. Jean Sung, Board and Executive Committee member of BXAI and Head of the Philanthropy Center, Asia at J.P. Morgan Private Bank.  Moderated by BX Alumna, Kim Eun Seo, the session was an engaging and meaningful one, with thoughtful discussion about Asian identity, global challenges, and what this all means for Asia’s future leaders.


On the last day of the SP, participants presented their takeaways from their 10-day learning journey in the form of group presentations.  Addressing the assigned theme, “Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic: idea presentation on solutions toward East Asian issues”, students put their collaborative and public speaking skills to work and proposed a wide range of innovative ideas aimed at building a brighter post-COVID future within East Asia.  The SP formally concluded with a closing ceremony that afternoon, where Keynote speaker, Mr. Aaron Stadlin-Robbie (founder of mental health platform, Talking Mental), shared about how he utilized his personal journey through mental health issues to raise mental health awareness, and encouraged scholars to likewise support issues they care about.  The keynote speech was followed by an uplifting guitar performance by BX Scholar, Tiara Feliza Junor, and award ceremonies for best presentation awards, SP certificates, and the social media campaign award.  BXAI CEO, Ms. Ronna Chao, closed the session with encouraging words for participating scholars and alumni.  “We have been living in very unusual times, but I strongly believe that how we think, and how we choose to think can influence our outcomes,” she said.  “In line with this year’s Summer Program theme, if each of us can channel positivity, adapt to the changing environment, and maintain our wellness, then not only can we motivate and propel ourselves in the desired direction, we can also serve as a reservoir of energy for those around us.  As future Asian leaders, you have been equipped to become agents of change and to promote peace, respect, and understanding between peoples and nations.”