On October 29, 2017, Peking University celebrated the annual International Culture Festival (ICF) at the Centennial Lecture Hall. This year’s festival marks the 14th celebration since its establishment and with the theme of “Together as One”, it embraces the hope that students and friends from all corners of the globe can come together to celebrate PKU’s cultural diversity.
A crucial event of ICF this year was the “One Belt One Road” Youth Forum held at the Guanghua School of Management Building. With the theme “The Responsibility and Role of the Youth”, ambassadors of the countries along the Belt and the Road, officials of international organizations, experts, scholars and youth delegates were invited to discuss a wide range of topics revolving around the role of young people in the One Belt One Road Initiative.
Zhai Kun, Director of the Centre for the Belt and Road Studies and Professor in the School of International Studies in Peking University, began the academic discussion with a speech on the development of the Belt and Road Initiative after the Party’s 19th National Congress. He stressed that One Belt One Road is a large-scale, long-term program that will connect nations and people. Students should therefor be prepared for the future by learning more about the benefits and challenges brought on by the initiative.
Palestine’s Ambassador to China Fariz Mehdawi expressed that by proposing the Belt and Road Initiative, China is showing its intention to play a more active role and to take more responsibility in global affairs. As many countries, including Palestine, are benefitting from the initiative, the Ambassador showed his support for the future that China is heading towards. Nepal’s Ambassador to China Leela Mani Paudyal encouraged students to take advantage of the opportunities the initiative creates for students to connect. However, he suggested that young people not take this for granted, but should learn to greater appreciate these benefits brought by better connectivity.
The event also gave opportunities to several students to express their opinions and share their experiences. A MBA student from Guanghua school of Management and Thailand native Tanik Ruangpanyaphot spoke of how young people in Thailand are just as competitive as anywhere else, but since Thailand’s economy is small, young people cannot reach their full potential. He believes technology and education are essential tools needed for the economy to develop. Michelle Holi, a Kenyan student pursuing a post-graduate degree the School of Government at PKU mentioned how excited she was to travel for the first time on a Kenyan railway built with Chinese cooperation. Michelle believes that the One Belt One Road Initiative has contributed so much to her country.
The “One Belt One Road” Youth forum was a good chance for young people of different backgrounds to communicate and share ideas with scholars, government officials, and each other. The forum created friendships, and inspired participants to think about what they can do to enjoy the benefits of the initiative and to solve the complex problems facing their own countries.
Writer: Van Cao Mai
Editor: Jessie Gammon