A forum hosted by East China Normal University two years ago inspired 40 international students to research issues related to the Maritime Silk Road and their findings have now been published by the university.
International students visit the Yangshan Deep-Water Port when attending the 2019 forum.
The “Dialogue on the Maritime Silk Road” forum in 2019 was attended by 41 students from 25 countries, as well as master’s and PhD students from ECNU.
The forum was part of 2019 Experiencing China — a series of activities organized to help international students better understand China.
During the two-day forum, students networked and presented their research on three Maritime Silk Road topics — culture and civilization, estuaries and coast, and economics and trade. They also visited Shanghai and its surrounding areas to experience China’s development after more than 40 years of reform and opening-up.
The Shanghai university has collected 40 extended abstracts submitted by international students who participated in the forum and has now published them as a special “Experiencing China — Dialogue of Maritime Silk Road” issue of the Journal of East China Normal University. They were edited in three concurrent but interacting themes — Maritime Silk Road and cross-civilization study; estuarine and coastal science and technology toward sustainable ecosystems; and building a world of common prosperity through win-win cooperation.
Jamila Ngondo, a Tanzanian studying at ECNU's State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research, submitted a paper examining freshwater supply-related challenges to Tanzanian coastal cities and proposing sustainable adaptive strategies.
At the launch ceremony for the special issue, she said: “My study results show Tanzania’s coastal cities are vulnerable to all impacts of climate change and seawater intrusion. I have learnt a lot through the preparation process of publication starting from the forum. The year 2020 was an exceedingly difficult year due to COVID-19. Having a publication like this is one of the golden achievements for my career development.”
Sun Wei, an Italian doctoral student from the School of International Studies, Peking University, said: “I was fortunate to participate in this forum, and then have the opportunity to communicate with scholars from different academic disciplines and different countries. I have learnt a lot from them. And I am also very fortunate to meet Professor Mu Tao — a respected teacher in the field of African studies.”
His research focuses on transnational migration of Africans, agricultural development and food security, and China-Africa cooperation. In his “Djibouti and the Maritime Silk Road” article, he analyzes the internal and external situation of Djibouti from the perspective of both geopolitical and economic development.
Gowoon Seong, a doctoral student in cultural relics at Fudan University, submitted a paper on the Chinese celadon exported to the Korean Peninsula. The editing and publishing process greatly improved her Chinese.
“The written texts in an academic paper are much more rigorous than general reports and oral speeches,” she said. “And I also realized that publishing such papers cannot be accomplished by scholars alone, it requires efforts of many parties.”
Zhang Jing, a professor at the laboratory, stressed recognition of respective cultures and their mutual influence.
“University education shall not ignore this aspect while focusing on imparting knowledge,” said Zhang. “International students passing their culture, knowledge, world view and values to Chinese teachers and students, which shall benefit us undoubtedly.”
Mu Tao, from ECNU’s Institute of World History Studies, said that in the global cooperation in carrying forward the Belt and Road Initiative, efforts in organizing such forum and publishing the special issue for international students in China will contribute to promoting the consensus of the international community and students’ future development. He also expressed his wish that the integration of social and natural science and regional integration should generate more fruitful studies on the Belt and Road Initiative.