(Hong Kong, August 24, 2022) Bai Xian Asia Institute’s (BXAI) seventh Summer Program (SP) was held virtually from August 5 to 18 in partnership with The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). A key component of the Asian Future Leaders Scholarship Program, the annual SP is held every August and gathers current Bai Xian Scholars on one university campus for a fun and enriching experience designed to broaden perspectives, foster community, and extend learning beyond the classroom. Due to travel restrictions and health concerns as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s SP was once again held virtually but remained an immersive experience for the 50 Bai Xian Scholars and Alumni in attendance, who gathered on a real-time, interactive online platform to explore the theme “The Age of Disruptive Innovation” over the course of two weeks. Through a series of webinars, panel discussions, and workshops, participants had valuable opportunities to examine the applications and implications of artificial intelligence (AI), discuss important East Asia-related issues, and hone their soft skills. Cross-cultural activities in both online and offline settings as well as special activities, such as social media challenges, were also incorporated to boost engagement.

On July 23, a pre-program orientation session was held to introduce this year’s theme and encourage participants to begin building connections with one another prior to the start of SP 2022. The SP officially kicked off on August 5 with an opening session that featured welcome remarks by BXAI President, Prof. Katsuichi Uchida, and CEO, Ms. Ronna Chao, who urged students to take advantage of their time during the SP to consider their role as a bridge within today’s rapidly evolving landscape while not forgetting to interact with speakers and connect with their fellow scholars. The first day also included an enjoyable pixel art workshop, where students had a chance to learn about the art form and create their own artwork, as well as an exciting team building session that facilitated the forming of new friendships.

Over the next week, scholars participated in illuminating webinars and academic sessions that revolved around the topic of new technology trends such as AI and web3, and took part in engaging discussions where they considered what these advancements mean for them as aspiring future leaders in East Asia. A series of skill-building workshops also allowed students to focus on their personal development by strengthening their leadership, self-awareness, and public speaking skills. The second week concluded with a string of fun cross-cultural activities including: (1) Culture Café, where scholars formed teams based on their home countries and regions and engaged in a lively debate on which local dishes were best (the winners were Team Japan and Team Korea for sushi and bibimbap respectively); (2) culture workshops, which included a tai chi workshop and a bamboo steamer workshop; and (3) Travel with Me, a brand-new offline travel activity where one person travels on behalf of another with the main focus being exploration of culture. Participants in different locations were paired up, and each travelled within his/her own city based on an itinerary created by the other. Scholars enjoyed the opportunity to connect with those from different backgrounds while also exploring more of their local culture, and even had a chance to share their photos, videos, and experiences with the greater group at a dedicated sharing session a few days later.

The final week of the SP took place in typical SP fashion and included alumni sharing sessions, a fireside chat, final presentations, and a closing ceremony. The BX Alumni Roundtable saw four BX alumni returning to share about their careers in the IT and digital technology sector and insights on pursuing a job in technology and innovation, while the Bai Xian Project Award sharing session featured winners of the last cycle speaking about their projects and experiences during the award process. As always, the fireside chat was held on the second to last day of the SP, with Mr. Ronald Chao, Honorary Chairman of BXAI; Mr. Yutaka Aso, Honorary Chairman of Kyushu Economic Federation; and Ms. Laura Cozijnsen, Founder of Lighthouse Consultant Limited, sharing their perspectives on leadership, education, and diversity.

On August 18, the last day of the SP, scholars presented their final presentations – the culmination of their two-week learning journey and a platform through which to reflect on their takeaways while working in groups alongside fellow scholars from different academic disciplines and backgrounds. Addressing the assigned theme, “Exploring how new technology trends can influence cross-cultural understanding in East Asia,” students examined a wide range of interesting topics including bamboo ceilings in the workplace, digital transformation, and the role of AI in social media and intercultural communication. That afternoon, the closing ceremony of the SP was held, beginning with a video about Hong Kong co-created by the BX team and HKUST student advisors. After welcome remarks by Prof. Wei Shyy, President of HKUST and Prof. Uchida, the participants tuned in to this year’s SP keynote speech. Prof. Helen Meng, the Patrick Huen Wing Ming Professor of Systwms Engineering and Engineering Management at CUHK shared about her research on AI, and how it may be used in language and speech recognition for numerous purposes from data collection to medical applications. Prof. Meng expressed her hope that AI will continue to serve as a useful tool to help tackle global challenges and benefit society, and encouraged scholars to “stay informed, stay passionate, and enjoy the journey!” while navigating their studies and professional lives with support from new and emerging technologies. Attendees were then treated to captivating student performances by Peter Chai and Kouki Enomoto, as well as award ceremonies for best presentations, Summer Program certificates, and the social media campaign award. In BXAI Summer Program tradition, a handover ceremony was also held, where HKUST, represented by Prof. Shyy, passed the baton to next year’s host, Waseda University, represented by Vice President Prof. Gemma Masahiko.

In her closing remarks, BXAI CEO, Ms. Ronna Chao, reminded scholars that their learning journey continues and encouraged them to put their AFLSP experiences to good use. “I have witnessed your zeal for learning, and your willingness to engage in dialogue and build community, and so even though we may still find ourselves in uncertain times today, I remain very hopeful and optimistic about the future,” she said. “I am excited at the prospect of you, as future Asian leaders, going out into the world to your jobs or further studies, and combining everything you have learned and experienced with the AFLSP with the endless possibilities that lie ahead in a post-COVID world. In the meantime, I urge you to stay connected with the Bai Xian community and with each other, so that we may continue to support and encourage one another, and look towards a brighter future established on respect, mutual understanding, and equality.”