Opening Ceremony for AY 2021-22 & Mid-Autumn Festival Double CelebrationOpening Ceremony for AY 2021-22 & Mid-Autumn Festival Double Celebration

The 15th day of the 8th month on the Lunar calendar is always a day of great celebration in China for millennia. It is a time of gathering and thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. This tradition of thanking the gods for a bountiful harvest on the first full moon in autumn is not unique to China and this tradition of mid-autumn celebrations is celebrated by many Asians and international friends alike. This year, it falls on 21 September 2021.
Coincidentally, this date falls on the second week that we welcome our international MA students and MBA students back to campus for the AY2021-22. The past 18 months have been a challenge for many – staff and students alike - and this academic year where we could all meet together in person and learn from each other together. Thus, on this mid-autumn afternoon, we give thanks for the opportunity to gather as one family to welcome our new students to the new academic year.

The opening ceremony was one filled with excitement and elation, mixed with a strong sense of grit and emotion. It is the first time gathering in the lecture hall as one family since the pandemic began in 2019. And we have come a long way since then. As Prof Pengfei Wang, Vice-chancellor of the Shenzhen Graduate School has aptly put, as we welcome the new Academic Year with zeal and excitement, we must always bear in mind the lessons that we have learnt in the past 18 months, and remind ourselves of the determination and strength that we all inherently possess as we rise up to meet new challenges and overcome new obstacles in the new year. We have all come to realise how fluid and quickly things can change and it is with the spirit of perseverance that is inherent in all of us that we can learn to adapt and change.

Students are the future leaders of the world, and as students from one of the most prestigious universities in the world, all the speakers at the opening ceremony – faculty, business mentors, research sponsors – have one take home message for them: they are here to learn to change the world for the better. Our faculty representative, Dr Domenico Tarzia encouraged them to utilize their strengths to learn how to make the world a better place. As international students in a highly globalized world, it is up to them to show the world how we can all work together as one for the betterment of mankind.

Our business mentor, Dr Baoli Zhao echoed this message. He encouraged all the students to innovate, to keenly observe our surroundings, spot the problems, and take the opportunity to make it a better place. Despite our fortunes and successes, there are billions of people who are under the poverty line. Dr Zhao encouraged all students to take the opportunity to spark their entrepreneurial skills, develop their creativity, and seize the chance to expand their talents to make the world a truly global and equal one for all.

Our visiting professor and research sponsor Prof Andros Gregoriou echoed this message by announcing the award of a PhD scholarship sponsored by the company he has co-founded – Evai. Evai is the world’s first decentralized crypotasset ratings platform that was founded from his research. Truly the epitome of how research can benefit the world around us. Prof Gregoriou encouraged our students to apply for the PhD scholarship and use their talent and creativity to innovate the world around us.

Finally, the Head of Campus, Prof Guy Liu, sent home the message to all of our students. He reminded them that as students from Peking University, the first University in China that was established to reform the Chinese educational system and in itself China, it is the inherent task of all students to make sure that they carry on the mantle of this great responsibility – to take what they learn to make themselves a better person, to make their community a better place, to make their home country a better place, and finally, the world a better place. Nothing summarizes this better than the Chinese adage, 修身齐家治国平天下.

As we segue to the early evening, everyone is gathered in the Great Hall for our mid-autumn festival celebrations. Staff, students, and invited guests milled around in the Great Hall and the outside gardens. There were jokes about expecting to see the zoom background images behind us as we speak to each other in real life, or the fact that we can’t mute ourselves or others anymore. That last joke set everyone off to a big round of laughter.

It was truly a lovely sight to behold, everyone interacted with a respectable social distance and with the eagerness of interacting in-person. It is truly a great step forward as we embrace the challenges of the new year and the hope that the pandemic will be behind us. It was an event filled with mirth and laughter as staff and students whom we all communicated with online for the past 18 months were finally all in one room together in person.

As we move into the new Academic Year, we take with us the many lessons learn from the past 18 months and we aim to embrace the new opportunities ahead of us with vigor and face any challenges with perseverance and determination.
We at PHBS-UK wish one and all a very happy Mid-Autumn Festival and we look forward to a year filled with fun and excitement!