Rhodes Scholarships have been awarded in China for the first time ever. The selection committee chose four outstanding individuals: Gong Chenzhuo, Ren Naying, Zhang Chunying and Zhang Wanyu (please see below for their biographies).
Hundreds of individuals submitted applications, and selectors reviewed their records and interviewed them over the course of three rounds, culminating in final interviews this weekend in Shanghai. The selectors were deeply impressed by the calibre of the applicants, a testament to the talent and the accomplishments of China's young generation. The Scholars Elect will begin their studies at Oxford in the autumn of 2016.
Around the world, applicants to the Rhodes Scholarship are judged on the basis of four criteria: literary and scholastic attainments; energy to use one's talents to the full; truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship; and moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in one's fellow beings. The four Scholars Elect in China embody these ideals, each in their own way. They will immediately be valuable members of the Rhodes community in Oxford.
The launch of the Rhodes Scholarship for Chinese students is one of the most significant developments in the 112-year history of the Rhodes. With this exciting new start, the Rhodes hopes that its spirit of "fighting the world's fight" will help inspire students in China, both today and for years to come. The Rhodes Scholarships for China are generously supported by the Li Ka Shing Foundation and other generous benefactors.
Biographies of the Scholars Elect:
GONG Chenzhuo graduated from Fudan University with a Bachelor’s in International Politics, receiving the Star Graduates award given to the top-10 undergraduates. He has completed study exchanges around the world: in Brazil, Britain, America and Finland. He is currently working with UNESCO in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, as a trainee in the communications and information team.
It is Chenzhuo’s second time in Tanzania, having previously volunteered for a summer as an English teacher in primary school there. He has also volunteered as teacher in rural parts of China, going back to the same county every winter vacation for three consecutive years. Chenzhuo is an avid footballer and has also completed a “vertical marathon”, climbing to the top of the 101-floor Shanghai World Financial Center. He is deciding between degrees in internet studies, education and business administration at Oxford. His objective is to create an NGO that empowers rural students and other marginalised groups in China.
REN Naying is studying English language and literature at Tsinghua University. Naying is co-founder of the China LGBT+ Youth Network, supervising the organization with a focus on the development of gender education and academic research. She has extensive volunteer experience both at the Beijing LGBT Centre as well as at the LGBT North West centre in Manchester, where she studied for a term.
Naying has taught English to the children of migrant workers in Beijing and has also been a long-time member of the Tsinghua Association of Student International Communication, participating in exchanges with students from France and around Asia. A lover of the arts, from film to musicals, she has researched differences in humour between Western and Chinese cultures. Naying plans to pursue a degree in Women’s Studies at Oxford. Her ambition is to help develop the theoretical foundations of gender studies in China.
ZHANG Chunying is studying for a Master’s in journalism at Columbia University, having previously earned an honors degree in economics and English at Zhejiang University. Chunying has interned with Reuters and the New York Times in Shanghai and Xinhua new-media centre in Zhejiang, exploring topics from labour disputes to corruption.
She was coach and captain of the Chu Kochen College debating team at Zhejiang University and also secretary-general of the Morningside Cultural China Annual Forum, organising three-day conferences in both 2012 and 2013 with discussions on social innovation, youth leadership and more. Chunying intends to read for an MPhil in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation at Oxford, to acquire more rigorous analytical skills. She dreams of creating a media organisation in China that will provide a platform for keeping track of and appraising public policies.
ZHANG Wanyu is a law student at Peking University, ranked first in her class. From her beginnings in a small town in southwestern China, Wanyu has gone on to receive a national scholarship for the top 0.2% of university students in the country.
She also excelled as an exchange student at Stanford Law School and was Chinese champion of the Jessup Moot Court Competition. Wanyu has been active as a legal-aid volunteer both at Peking University and in Sichuan province, focusing on factory workers who have suffered workplace injuries, with a special emphasis on those afflicted by silicosis. Her favourite quote in legal literature is from jurist Oliver W. Holmes: “if [a man] has the soul of an idealist, he will make—I do not say find—his world ideal”. Wanyu intends to complete a second BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford, hoping to explore the theoretical underpinnings of social justice to make law meaningful for marginalised populations.