China Chevening Alumni climb mountains for humanity

In the shadow of Guizhou Province’s highest peak, Chevening Alumni and future applicants from across northeast and southwest China came together for China’s annual Chevening Conference from 22-23 September. Coordinated by China Chevening Alumni in collaboration with the British Consulate General Chongqing, the British Embassy Beijing and the Zoological Society of London, the conference aimed to draw attention to some of the most pressing issues faced by people, cultures, and ecosystems, both domestically and around the world.

Set in the UNESCO-listed Biosphere Reserve, Mount Fanjingshan, the conference was a weekend full of learning, discussion, and exploration. This subtropical forest region is home to the Tujia, Miao, and Dong people, as well as many endangered species. It is also a sacred site for Buddhism, dating back to the Ming Dynasty. The theme of the conference was in harmony with the surroundings, exploring issues such as the preservation of cultural heritage in ethnic minorities, wildlife protection, and the implementation of social enterprise in some of China’s poorest areas. 

Speakers explored issues that are close to the hearts of many of the 1,700 Chevening Scholars that are currently studying in the UK, including 66 scholars from China. One of the speakers, a headmaster from a local school, shared the challenges faced in developing an educational model that supports families subject to urban migration. Despite submitting an unsuccessful Chevening application this year, he seized this opportunity to harness the collective knowledge of conference attendees to discuss ideas to better develop education in the region, particularly in reference to the wellbeing of ‘left-behind’ children.

Furthermore, as this area is home to endemic populations of the golden monkey and giant salamander, speakers from the British Embassy in Beijing and the Zoological Society of London talked in depth about how the UK and China work together in tackling the illegal wildlife trade.

Finally, the delegates heard from social enterprises that bring traditional handicrafts to market, as a way of exploring strategies for regional economic development (including the positive impact of tourism) and the preservation of local cultural heritage.

To date, Chevening has broadened the horizons of over 3,500 people from China. Upon reaching the peak of Mount Fajingshan as part of the conference, scholars reflected on the impact that Chevening has had on them and others. Recognising that Chevening Scholars are selected for their passion and dedication for tackling global issues, such as those brought to light in Guizhou, the alumni concluded that the Chevening Alumni community is precious as it consists of like-minded, forward-thinking people who not only care about world issues, but have the courage to use their abilities to inspire future generations of problem-solvers, influencers, and thought leaders.

Although at times the challenges facing humanity may appear mountainous, the China Chevening Conference is testament to the collective will of the network to continue to achieve, share knowledge across regions and borders, and move forward to improve our diverse and intertwined global community. 

To support and contribute toward the diversity of Chevening in China, contact the Chevening Team at the British Embassy in Beijing at chevening.beijing@fco.gov.uk

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