The opening ceremony of the International Forum on People-to-People Exchange was held on April 25. The ceremony took place at Moonlight Hall of Yingjie Overseas Exchange Center, Peking University.
The opening ceremony
Experts and scholars from seven universities, including Peking University, Cairo University, the University of Granada, the University of Sheffield, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Waseda University and the University of Artois participated in the ceremony. Under the forum's overarching theme of"People-to-People Exchange and Mutual Learning Among Civilizations", they will jointly explore new forms of cross-cultural people-to-people exchanges in a series of sub-forums spanning over two months.
Wang Bo delivering speech
Vice President of PKU Wang Bo pointed out in his speech that people-to-people exchanges are not only exchanges between people, but also exchanges among civilizations. Therefore, universities play an important role in building bridges for cultural exchanges and mutual learning. He expressed that, since its birth, PKU has remained open, inclusive and committed to extensive and in-depth international exchanges. By holding forums centered on common prosperity and harmony among countries, and supporting further research in the humanities and social sciences, he conveyed PKU wish to play its part in contributing to humanity's peace and development.
Gamal Elshazly, Vice President of Cairo University
Dorothy Kelly, Vice President of the University of Granada
Malcolm Butler, Vice President of the University of Sheffield
Mona Khoury Kassbari, Vice President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Watanabe Yoshihiro, Vice President of Waseda University
Pasquale Mammone, President of the University of Artois
President and vice presidents of the six participating foreign universities, Gamal Elshazly, Dorothy Kelly, Malcolm Butler, Mona Khoury Kassbari, Watanabe Yoshihiro and Pasquale Mammone logged in to the ceremony online to deliver their guest speeches.
In their speeches, the guests shared their personal stories with China, and through drawing lessons from their countries' historical relations with China, they explained their unique understandings of people-to-people exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations. On top of that, they recounted their respective universities' past academic exchanges with PKU and the progress they have attained. They shared that, in the face of emerging global challenges such as climate change, it is increasingly significant for countries to strengthen communication, cooperation and seek mutual understanding to collectively tackle these problems. Watanabe Yoshihiro also expressed Waseda University's eagerness to explore new forms of academic exchange under the context of COVID-19 as well as to deepen their cooperation with PKU.
Zhao Lingshan delivering speech
In the final guest speech, Secretary General of Chinese International Education Foundation, Zhao Lingshan said that it is a natural responsibility for scholars to actively carry out academic exchanges, both domestically and internationally. He shared that the Confucius Institute is not only a window to China, but also a classroom for language learning and cultural exchanges jointly built by Chinese and overseas universities. No matter how the international situation changes, the mission shouldered by Confucius Institutes will never change.
Yuan Ming giving a keynote speech
Joel Bellassen giving a keynote speech
Professor Yuan Ming from the PKU School of International Studies, and Joel Bellassen, former Inspector General for Chinese Language Teaching at the French Ministry of National Education were both invited to deliver a keynote speech.
Yuan Ming briefly reviewed the establishment and development of the Yenching Academy of PKU, and recalled her moving encounters with young scholars from all around the world. She expressed that it is only through interaction that the unique characteristics of different civilizations can be highlighted, and only through mutual learning among civilizations can human wisdom be condensed, the advancement of human civilization accelerated. To understand China, you need to understand the world, while at the same time, China needs the world to understand them—this is precisely the role this forum plays.
Joel Bellassen shared his experience studying at PKU, as well as his journey of engaging in Chinese language education and establishing a new major in teaching Chinese as a foreign language after returning to France. He pointed out that while misunderstandings might arise in cross-cultural and cross-language settings, we should objectively look at the similarities and differences between Chinese and foreign cultures, learn from their respective histories, and enhance our understanding of different cultures.
The launching ceremony
As the ceremony neared its end, Wang Bo, Jia Qingguo, Zhao Lingshan and Zhang Jing took to the stage to light up posts together, in representation of the official launch of International Forum on People-to-People Exchange.
The opening ceremony won the attention of media at home and abroad, and triggered a vigorous discussion on people-to-people exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations in Chinese and overseas academic circles.