(Tokyo, September 9, 2016) Serving as a platform to motivate and mobilize young people toward positive engagement and good citizenship, Bai Xian Asia Institute (BXAI) held its second BXAI Summer Program from August 3-24. The three-week program took place in Tokyo at Waseda University and brought together Scholars of the Asian Future Leaders Scholarship Program (AFLSP) from across Asia to participate in constructive dialogue, establish mutual understanding and develop lifelong friendships. The Summer Program 2016 centered on BXAI’s mission of building bridges across cultures, which matches the commitment of Waseda, one of the six Anchor Universities of the AFLSP, to produce leaders by promoting peace and progress through intercultural and international education. The Summer Program concluded on August 24 with a Closing Ceremony held at Waseda’s International Conference Center from 5 – 7 p.m.
Over 130 students currently enrolled at BXAI’s 13 partner universities in Greater China, Japan and Korea attended the Summer Program 2016. Students had the opportunity to interact with more than 50 renowned speakers in the arts and sciences, politics, academia, non-profit and business. In total, the Summer Program fostered the networking of more than 200 people from the Bai Xian Community, including BXAI’s partner universities, organizations from the private and public sectors, and like-minded individuals. In addition to exchanging thoughts about global topics related to East Asia, participants also engaged in stimulating team-building challenges, worked on personal development and group projects, and socialized through excursions, sports and appreciation of the arts.
This year, the Summer Program focused on five themes that have relevance throughout Asia: (1) Science and Sustainability; (2) Long-lasting Peace in East Asia; (3) Influence of Popular Culture in East Asia; (4) Poverty Issues in Asia and Globalization; and (5) Ageing Society and Women’s Role in Asia. The Summer Program 2016 also addressed the unprecedented challenges in the dynamic and quickly evolving Big Data world, which will require young future leaders to sharpen not just their intellect but also their business acumen. Both are essential for them to filter and reduce information overload, devise new ideas and practical solutions, drive concerted collaborative efforts across borders, and solve the pressing issues with which they are faced.
In line with the five themes and these new requirements for young leaders, BXAI offered social entrepreneurship workshops to equip AFLSP Scholars with basic start-up skills, and planted in them the seeds of an exploratory spirit. Waseda professors also led two separate study trips, one to Hiroshima, another to Tohoku. The Hiroshima study trip gave Scholars the opportunity to visit areas affected by the atomic bomb and interact with a survivor. Scholars from all over Asia reflected together on the tragic history of World War II and discussed ways to move forward. In Tohoku, which was hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011, Scholars observed the aftermath and affected areas of one of the most devastating natural disasters in recent memory, and were inspired by the incredible resolve of the people of Tohoku who are tackling reconstruction and revitalization of the region.
The Closing Ceremony was an exciting finish to the Summer Program 2016, featuring a keynote speech from Mr. Ronnie C. CHAN, Chairman of Hang Lung Properties and Global Co-Chair of the Asia Society. Mr. Chan’s speech followed the stirring keynote speeches at the Opening Ceremony on August 3, which were delivered by Mr. Tadashi YANAI, Chairman, President & CEO, Fast Retailing Co. Ltd, and Prof. Ezra VOGEL, Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences Emeritus, Harvard University.
In his speech titled “Challenges of the New World”, Mr. Ronnie C. Chan reflected on the successes and failures of his own generation, namely the baby boomer generation, and the present and future challenges of today’s youth. Although he lamented his belief that the baby boomer generation is the luckiest yet the most selfish of all generations, such as leaving as its legacy many problems for ensuing generations, he gave inspiring advice to the Scholars on how to face down these issues. Following his keynote speech, Mr. Chan had an engaging dialogue with the Scholars in a question-and-answer session, reinforcing his belief in the importance of moral courage:
I have two recommendations for the kind of person you should strive to be. First, try your best to be multicultural, or at the very least, bicultural. For this, you must study language, travel, read widely, and make friends from different countries, religions, and backgrounds, but above all, you must have moral courage. This is mandatory. You must be willing to make sacrifices and never be afraid to stand alone, even if the whole world is against you. After all, history at critical turning points is always written by the minority who have such moral fiber.
The Closing Ceremony featured an announcement by Ms. Ronna CHAO, CEO of Bai Xian Asia Institute, about the launch of BXAI’s Alumni Initiative Award, which will encourage AFLSP Scholars to take the lead in running research-based projects for social impact, in line with one of the five main themes covered in the Summer Program. As AFLSP Scholars identify issues that appeal to them personally, BXAI hopes to see some of them, who have the vision, passion, and energy, work alongside their friends and mentors to develop real solutions for Asia’s most pressing issues. Ms. Chao also participated in a dialogue with six Scholars, answering their questions focused on the future of the AFLSP and the legacy of the Summer Program 2016:
I am counting on the Scholars to keep the momentum of this Summer Program, and we at BXAI will also do our part to maintain the legacy of this wonderful experience. As a way to increase this momentum, the Alumni Initiative Award will give a special push to encourage Scholars to work together as a team. In addition, we now count over 200 students as alumni, and we are building our BXAI Community so that participants and our Bai Xian stakeholders can maintain their connections and share their accomplishments going forward.
Mr. Yutaka ASO, Advisory Council Member, BXAI and Chairman, Aso Cement Company Limited, delivered the closing remarks. He reflected on the significance of the study tours that enabled Scholars to experience and learn about Hiroshima and Tohoku. Concluding his address, he urged the Scholars to maintain the invaluable bonds they formed through the Summer Program:
I hope this has been a period of discovery for you, and that you went places you had never been, learned things you never knew, and had conversations that opened your minds. I urge you to treasure the seeds of understanding and trust that have been planted in the last few weeks. Nurture them into lasting and meaningful friendships as you continue to face problems, create solutions, and build strong bridges across cultures.
The Closing Ceremony culminated with the triumphant presentation of Summer Program 2016 completion certificates to the Scholars, and ended with the handover from Waseda University to National Taiwan University, the host for next year’s Summer Program.
BXAI is a wholly independent, non-profit organization established in January 2014 with funding from Bai Xian Education Foundation, Mr. Ronald CHAO’s private family foundation. Its establishment is grounded in the belief that education is the most effective catalyst to promote and achieve a prosperous, sustainable and conflict-free modern Asia.
Through the development and implementation of the AFLSP, BXAI provides and develops the pre-eminent intercultural and interdisciplinary educational platform in East Asia through its commitment to building a vibrant and collaborative community of scholars, alumni, academics, universities, corporates, funders, sponsors, government agencies, philanthropic and non-profit organizations, and individuals, who share BXAI’s core values, mission and vision.
In determining a robust strategic direction now and into the future, BXAI benefits greatly from the collective expertise and experience of the Bai Xian Community. It is BXAI’s vision that the Bai Xian Community will flourish and continue to inspire and be inspired, sharing their knowledge, support and connections.
About Waseda University
Waseda University is an original Anchor University of the AFLSP, and continues to support it by hosting the BXAI Summer Program 2016 in Japan. BXAI’s mission matches Waseda’s commitment to promoting peace and progress through international education, along with double degree programs with eight prominent Asian universities and exchange agreements with over 700 institutions in 86 countries worldwide.
Waseda University is a leading institution based in central Tokyo with over 50,000 students in 13 undergraduate and 21 graduate schools.
From its establishment in 1882, Waseda’s mission has been to produce leaders, and continues to do so, counting among its alumni seven prime ministers and countless other politicians, business leaders, journalists, diplomats, scholars, scientists, actors, writers and artists, in Japan and across Asia.
International education is a core part of Waseda’s heritage, having welcomed its first international students in 1884. This tradition continues today as Waseda is number one in Japan for study abroad with over 5,000 international students enrolled.
About Asian Future Leaders Scholarship Program (AFLSP)
The AFLSP is a pan-Asian initiative that enables young Asian scholars to study abroad in another Asian country, take part in an intercultural and interdisciplinary Enrichment Program, and connect with like-minded peers and leaders from across all sectors (together, the “Bai Xian Community”). By way of granting up to 105 scholarships per year to elite students enrolled at 16 leading universities across 9 cities in Greater China, Japan, and Korea, the AFLSP supports their tuition and living expenses for undergraduate, MBA, or other Master’s/Doctoral degree studies. The AFLSP aims at developing future leaders to embrace cultural diversity in Asia.
AFLSP encourages inter-regional student mobility, intercultural and interdisciplinary learning initiatives, and partnerships between Asian university campuses. All AFLSP Scholars will receive either a 12- or 24-month scholarship for an undergraduate, MBA or Master’s/MPhil degree at one of our 16 partner universities (6 Anchor Universities and 10 Participating Universities):
6 Anchor Universities
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
10 Participating Universities
Seoul National University
Shanghai Jiao Tong University
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
The University of Hong Kong
The University of Tokyo
The first cohort of AFLSP Scholars graduated in 2016 and AFLSP envisions the growth of a vibrant and connected network of alumni who collaborate on projects and initiatives not bound by borders.
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