Orientation 2021 began with a worldwide Zoom call.
Fifteen international students from 13 nations began two weeks of Global Business Journalism orientation sessions on August 30 as the program prepared for a fourth semester of remote learning for students living outside of China.
Global Business Journalism co-director Rick Dunham and academic officer Chengzhang Li joined the students for an overview of the two-year English language master's program at Tsinghua University. The students also heard from three second-year students, Roger Fu of Peru, Katherin Thouvenin of France, and Madeline Lee of Korea, who described how most international students have adapted to remote learning while their Chinese classmates and professors are on campus in Beijing.
Thouvenin strongly encouraged the students to take part in Tsinghua University activities, whether they were on campus or in their home countries. She advised the new students to be self-aware and to take chances.
"Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses," she advised the new students. "Find the passion for what you're doing. Take advantage of opportunities allowing you to rediscover yourself. Don't be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them."
The first-year students range in age from their early 20s to mid-40s and span four continents. The United States and Canada each are home to two of the first-year students. Eleven nations are represented by a single student.
Maraia Vula, a business journalist from Fiji, is the first Fijian and the first Pacific Islander to enroll in the GBJ program. She said her goal is to improve the quality of business journalism in her native Fiji by focusing on "integrity and accuracy in reporting." She hopes that she can gain insights to benefit her woman-dominated leadership team at the FIji Sun, where she has worked for eight years.
"What I learn from the program I will pass on to my team," she told her new classmates.
Other GBJ newcomers include Americans Amy Magee of Pennsylvania and Alicia Zeng of Nebraska and Canadians Eason Du of Toronto and Rida Wang of Vancouver. Five students come from Asia: Chau Nguyen of Vietnam, Yeonsu (Coline) Kim of Korea, Quinghui (Gillian) Tang of Singapore, Yee Hao Low of Malaysia, and Kabalan Farah of Lebanon. The other first year students are Musa Tshuma of Zimbabwe, Katarina Sai of Ukraine, Mateusz Jankowski of Poland, Yidi Wang of New Zealand, and Stephanie Fallas of Costa Rica.
Farah, a financial adviser and portfolio manager in Beirut, said he decided to join GBJ to "understand China" and learn journalism. Tang, who was born in Beijing but grew up in Singapore, said she wanted to reconnect with her Chinese roots.
"I rarely get to see the world through the lens of China," she said. "I would like to be a bridge between the world and China."
The Global Business Journalism program, a partnership between China's top university, the International Center for Journalists and Bloomberg News, was created in 2007. More than 500 GBJ students from about 70 nations have received master's degrees from Tsinghua.
Because of the pandemic, 12 of the 15 incoming international students remain outside of China, while three international students and all of the program's Chinese students are on campus in Beijing. Global Business Journalism officials offered all incoming students the option of delaying their admission by a year, and five chose to defer their studies by a year in hopes of being able to spend the entire two-year program in China.
Orientation continues on August 31 with a welcoming speech by GBJ co-director Min Hang and a detailed description of course offerings from Chengzhang Li. The students will hear from other Tsinghua faculty members over the next two weeks.
Fall semester classes begin on Monday, September 13, and continue through the final week of December.