Richard Liu and Ethan McAndrews were awarded the Yenching Academy Scholarship to pursue graduate studies at the Yenching Academy of Peking University in Beijing. The scholarship covers tuition, accommodations, living and travel stipends.
Liu looks forward to researching urban and rural inequalities in China. Specifically, he is interested in learning more about disparities in access to education between urban and rural high school students.
“The vast majority of China’s citizens are rural citizens who, while having benefited from overall prosperity, are projected to be left out as the economy changes and inequality sharpens,” he said.
“My dad was born into poverty in China but through education was able to bring our family to the US and offer me a standard of living beyond anything he imagined as a kid. That got me interested in education as a way to break cycles of inequality,” he added. Ultimately, Liu hopes to maximize equal opportunities for all in education.
McAndrews plans to return to China on the Yenching scholarship to study how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted diplomacy and international communication between China and the US.
He said his past experiences in China, “reinforced the importance of a relationship-centered approach--using tools like language and common interest to build cross-cultural connections.” Ultimately, he would like to apply his research toward future generations of US-China relations.
Liu and McAndrews are looking forward to living and studying at Peking University, immersing themselves in Chinese language, society, and culture. They both shared how they felt about receiving the scholarship and their sources of inspiration that led them to their respective fields of study.
In addition to his father’s emigration from China, Liu is inspired by his community, “I grew up during the Great Recession and saw the opioid crisis sweep through my hometown of Columbus, Indiana. Both those experiences got me particularly interested in inequality. Each of those crises, while bad for everyone, fell particularly heavily on specific neighborhoods and demographics.”
“My family is originally from China but we don’t have many opportunities to go back, so I grew up not knowing my extended family very well. Similarly, as I’ve delved into academic study of China, I’ve always relied on secondary sources from other scholars. Both personally and professionally, I’ve remained on the outside looking in, and it’s exciting to finally take to the field,” he concluded.
McAndrews responded, “I feel like this scholarship is most accurately a reflection of my supportive team of family, friends, and mentors. After receiving such a life-changing opportunity, it's very humbling to step back and reflect on the experiences that contributed to my successful application--quite frankly an endless collection of individuals and interactions. In a lot of ways, I'm motivated by the realization that I have no way of properly showing gratitude for such support except through the continued legacy of my studies.”
“I'm inspired by the potential of mutual understanding to transcend political and cultural differences. Two figures at IU whom I think embodied this understanding--and continue to be inspired by--are Senator Richard Lugar and Chancellor Emeritus Ken Gros Louis,” he ended.
The Yenching Academy’s China Studies master’s program is an interdisciplinary program that investigates contemporary Chinese society and culture using both Eastern and Western perspectives to explore diverse viewpoints from China and abroad. For more information on the Yenching Academy Scholarship and curriculum, visit: https://yenchingacademy.pku.edu.cn/CURRICULUM.htm#79