12 December 2016

YSIF 2016 Winning Team Proposal

The inaugural Yenching Social Innovation Forum (YSIF) culminated in a competition at which the seven teams of delegates – which had engaged in several weeks of background research and brainstorming prior to the event – each pitched an innovative proposal to address some aspect of China’s education gap to a panel of distinguished judges.  The proposal “Bring the Wings,” which is an application geared at serving families with special-needs children and which received high scores across judging criteria such as degree of innovation, potential for impact, and degree of sustainability, earned first prize.  


“Bring the Wings”, created by the team consisting of delegates Ye Wanxin (China), Zhou Hongliang (China), Ziyat Abdykaimov (Kazakhstan), Guangning “Phillip” An (U.S.A.), and Johannes Hallermeier (Germany), aims to ameliorate the situation of students with special needs in China. “Often, those students and their families lack information about resources, rights and possibilities, find themselves isolated and without a community, and suffer from stereotypes,” said Johannes.  “We want to change this situation, by empowering parents to act as effective advocates on behalf of their children.”  By reaching out to parents through WeChat (a popular mobile-based social media platform), the “Bring the Wings” application would provide families with special-needs children with high-quality disability-related content and information, opportunities to engage with a community of people wrestling with similar concerns, and even access to high-quality psychological services. 



26 November 2016

                                                   An Eye-Opening Visit to the Primary School Attached to Peking University                                                                                                                  

A day after their trip to a migrant school in Beijing’s north-eastern suburbs, Yenching Social Innovation Forum (YSIF) delegates travelled to one of China’s top primary schools in Haidian district to witness first-hand the best of China’s educational system. The Primary School Attached to Peking University (PSPU), one of the principle educational institutions for children of China’s top intellectuals, occupies the area immediately east of Peking University and south of Tsinghua University.

Immediately following lunch on the second day of the event, YSIF contestants as well as forum organizers like me gathered together to stroll over from PKU campus to the main courtyard of PSPU, where a trio of 6th grade students were waiting to greet us and who – in fluent and polished english – introduced us to their school. The maturity and poise of the students, who explained to us with no apparent language barrier the school’s history, pedagogical style, and extensive physical facilities, deeply impressed us. The trio of students clearly had prepared extensively for our visit and presented themselves with a high degree of confidence and extensive knowledge of the school. Indeed, YSIF forum delegates quizzed the student guides with a plethora of queries about the school’s background and educational style—to all of which the student guides provided detailed and well-versed responses. Following our introduction to PSPU, we were led out of the courtyard into the school itself. For the next hour the students treated us to a comprehensive tour of the school’s facilities, which included a football pitch, theatre auditorium, and basketball courts, in addition to well-equipped classrooms. Throughout the trip, student guides accompanied us, explaining to us the highlights of each aspect of the school via a pre-prepared script they had memorized.

Following our tour of the school’s facilities, the forum delegates and organizers were brought to the school’s 100-plus seat auditorium, where the school’s assistant to the principal showed us an in-depth video introduction to PSPU. The video outlined the extent to which students have agency over their learning, with teachers emphasizing class choice and creativity in students’ learning process—a unique trait given Chinese learning’s traditional emphasis on rote memorization. Chinese delegates with experience in other more typical elementary schools were, moreover, thoroughly surprised to learn that PSPU students are provided with numerous classes from which to choose in consultation of their parents. These are not limited to core subjects like math and literature, but also include advanced and specialized subjects like astronomy, geology, and visual arts.

Upon the conclusion of the introductory video, YSIF delegates had the opportunity to join a sixth-grade class and converse one-on-one with the PSPU students. While receiving instruction from the sixth graders about how to create small bouquets of flowers from paper cutting, the YSIF delegates inquired about the students’ backgrounds and discovered that most of them were the children of Peking University faculty and staff and that many of them had travelled or lived in multiple countries and continents. Interviewed students spoke highly of the level of independence that their teachers encouraged them to develop at PSPU, indicating that they understood and appreciated the opportunities with which they were provided. The afternoon concluded with a Q+A session with the principal’s assistant, an English teacher, and a parent.

Ultimately, the visit to PSPU offered a unique opportunity for YSIF participants to observe one end of the diverse spectrum of educational quality and resources within China. As PSPU’s assistant to the principal mentioned in her discussion with participants, although traditional rote-memorization-oriented education still remains the dominant system for pedagogy in East Asia, demand is growing for the type of creativity-promoting teaching styles offered at PSPU. As such, the style of learning delegates observed in their PSPU visit, while still in its incipient stages in China and offered at very few schools, provides new and diverse options for a small percentage of parents – primarily those who work at elite institutions like Peking University – who wish for non-standard education for their children.                                                                                                                            By Zachary Reshovsky, Yenching Scholar




23 November 2016

  An Innovation Pitch Competition to Bridge China's Education Gap this Saturday

The inaugural Yenching Social Innovation Forum, which will bring together the youngest and brightest minds within China and across the world to discuss and design innovative proposals to ameliorate China's education gap, is just one day away. The event's innovation pitch competition, which will take place this upcoming Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.in the Second Gymnasium at Peking University, is open to the public.  Come listen to the pitches of the seven delegate teams, who will engage in salient discourses related to China's most pressing educational issues. The distinguished panel of judges will include the Secretary General of Asia-Pacific for International Value and Education Dr. Xiong Jianhui, Peking University Professors Li Chenjian and Ha Wei, Yenching Academy Associate Dean John Holden, and Handicap International project officer Michelle Wang.



    本次论坛中的创新演讲大赛对公众开放,将于本周六(11.26)上午9:00-11:30在北京大学第二体育馆举行。欢迎前来参与并聆听七支代表队的报告。代表队研讨内容涵盖了中国教育目前亟待解决的问题,并将就此做出具有代表性的论述. 本次大赛评审团包括:UNESCO亚太国际教育与价值教育联合会秘书长熊建辉,北京大学教授李沉简、哈巍,北京大学燕京学堂副院长何立强,国际助残组织项目负责人Michelle Wang.



13 November 2016 

Closing the Gap

In just a few decades, China has gone from 20 percent literary rate to about 96 percent literary rate. China educates now one fifth of the children’s world population, and yet with all this progress a widening gap remains.  This transformation has revealed new challenges, including that of reducing the inequalities between rural and urban students. The Yenching Social Innovation Forum is now bringing together the brightest young minds to engage in dialogue in order to find innovative ways to address China’s “Education Gap”.

 Yenching Social Innovation Forum (YSIF) is a student-led event hosted by the Yenching Academy, which is international program established by Peking University to foster a deeper multidisciplinary understanding of China and to cultivate a new generation of global leaders. The mission of YSIF is to bring together young talented individuals from within China and across the world to discuss and design solutions. The forum aims to be an incubator for cross cultural and multidisciplinary dialogue, which seeks to help find innovative ways to address China’s most complex problems.

On November 24-26, 2016, the Yenching Academy is hosting the inaugural YSIF, the theme is “Bridging China’s Education Gap.” YSIF creates an interactive platform for young innovators to learn how they can more effectively implement solutions to China’s educational challenges by learning from academic experts and leaders in the entrepreneurship and policymaking sectors, in addition, to working in small teams to design and present innovative projects to a panel of judges in a competition.

Out of 719 applicants, thirty-five delegates will ultimately attend the Forum later this month, making the event highly selective with an acceptance rate of 4.9%. The delegates hail from 16 countries and are studying or have studied at 22 of the world’s leading universities, which include Princeton, Oxford, and Peking University. All have made significant contributions to addressing some aspect of the education gap around the world, with founders of NGOs and social enterprises, diplomats, teachers, and computer engineers counting among their ranks.  “We hope that the YSIF delegates’ international backgrounds and diverse skillsets will enable them to look at China’s educational gap from different angles, thereby enlightening their teammates with fresh perspectives and creating a multidisciplinary approach to address these issues,” said Cody Abbey, chairman of this year’s YSIF and a second-year student at the Yenching Academy

Scholars and administrators alike anticipate superb results from YSIF. This forum will not only bring together the best of the best of the world’s young social innovators but also offers a platform for future innovators to test their leadership and innovative skills before a panel of highly-accomplished judges, including Prof. Li Chenjian (Peking University). In addition to the competition, the student organizers on the YSIF Executive Committee have prepared a two-day program, which includes panels featuring academics such as Stanford Rural Education Action Program co-director Prof. Scott Rozelle and NGO leaders including A Bridge for Children International founder Steve Hwang, to intimately introduce delegates to the educational issues facing China and the pioneering organizations working on these issues. Zachary Reshovsky, a current first-year Yenching scholar from the United States who is helping to design the forum, summed up the forum’s objectives: “So often bright young individuals in this world focus on developing profit-oriented skills or their personal status rather than projects that will benefit the common good. We need more social good-oriented forums like YSIF: events which empower the next generation’s brightest minds with the skills and values needed to address fundamental challenges in society.”  


翻译by 江安吉 Angel






本次论坛共有719位申请者,最终有35位代表脱颖而出,获得在本月下旬参与论坛的资格。论坛申请竞争激烈,申请成功率为4.9%。代表们来自16个国家,学习或是毕业于22所世界一流大学,包括普林斯顿大学,牛津大学,北京大学等。他们对世界范围内的教育平等问题都有着自己的贡献,他们当中有非政府组织创始人,社会企业家,外交官,教师,计算机工程师等。本年度燕京社会创新论坛主席、2015级燕京学堂学生Cody Abbey谈到,“我们希望论坛代表们国际化的背景、多元的技能可以为中国教育差距问题带来不同的思考角度,从而启发出团队成员们的全新视角,创造出解决这些问题的复合型跨学科解决路径。”

专家学者及领导们也对本次论坛寄予了美好希冀。本论坛不仅汇聚了世界各地最优秀的社会创新青年们,也为未来革新者们提供了互相交流的平台,在包括北大李沉简教授的顶尖评委团指导下锻炼代表们的领导力与创新能力。比赛之外,燕京社会创新论坛执行委员会的学生组织者们也筹备了两天的活动项目,包括系列特色学术座谈会,如斯坦福乡村教育行动项目负责人之一Scott Rozelle教授;以及多个非政府组织的领导,例如A Bridge for Children International的创始人Steve Hwang。座谈会中,代表们将深入研究中国目前面临的教育问题,了解着力于应对教育挑战的开拓型组织机构。论坛策划人之一,来自美国的2015级燕京学堂学生Zachary Reshovsky归纳了论坛的目标:“世界上的精英青年们常汲汲于发展以利益为导向的技能或是提高自身的地位,而不是致力于具有普世价值的项目。我们需要更多类似YSIF这样的社会义务导向的论坛,赋予新一代青年人们能力与价值理念,倡导他们更多地关注社会面临的根本挑战。”