Duke Kunshan holds its first family weekend

November 16, 2018

By Shangyi Jiang and Xinyue Zhou

On Nov. 2-3, Duke Kunshan University welcomed the families of first-year undergraduate students to campus. 

In all, 134 parents and family members participated in the family weekend event. They had a chance to interact with the faculty, students and others who will be important parts of their children's lives for the next few years.

“It is a huge transition for both the students and families to go from high school to college,” said Dr. Li-Chen Chin, interim associate dean of student affairs at Duke Kunshan University.

“At the end of the first seven-week session, families should have some knowledge about the life of their son or daughter on campus. Family weekend can facilitate communication between the university and families and allow families to learn more about the community and environment that will shape their children for years to come," said Chin.

In August, Duke Kunshan welcomed its inaugural class of 259 undergraduate students from 27 countries, with 173 from the Chinese mainland, 7 from Taiwan and 79 international students from 26 countries including the United States, Britain, France, Italy, New Zealand, South Korea, Serbia, Ethiopia and Pakistan.

After the opening convocation ceremony, Duke Kunshan asked parents whether they would be interested in campus visit events.  More than 90 percent of parents indicated an interest.  

After eight weeks of preparation, Duke Kunshan held its first family weekend for undergraduates’ families. Parents had the opportunity to speak with Duke Kunshan’s Chancellor and professors, learn more about Duke Kunshan’s curriculum and research projects, and enjoy the art work display and talent show staged by their children.

Duke Kunshan Chancellor Youmei Feng shared her thoughts on "what a university should look like" in a welcome speech, pointing out that Duke Kunshan is what a university should be like with students who are very serious about their studies and professors who are passionate about teaching. 

“Our students study hard not because of any external pressure, but because they cherish the opportunity to study here. Students often say that they study harder now than in high school, but are happier," said Feng.

"Professors do research, but they all prioritize teaching," she said. "They spend a lot of time with the students, engaging in discussions and interactions with them, both in and out of the classroom."

Student art on display at the Lake Pavilion;Student talent showcase

As one of the few international parents who participated in this event, Steven Lacher from Colorado in the United States said it was interesting to hear the questions and perspectives from the Chinese parents.

“It was wonderful to visit the campus and see the obvious passion and dedication of the faculty and staff to the students and their families,” said Lacher. “It is clear that we all want our students to have a successful college experience, and the thoughtful answers by Duke Kunshan show the extent to which they are working to provide a top notch, interdisciplinary education to the entire class of 2022.” 

Lei Lu, a father from Shanghai, has visited Duke Kunshan more than once. He was worried and uncertain at first about his son going to Duke Kunshan. Now he is fully convinced and says, "This is indeed a great place for educating students."

“Mine is a family of architects. My father especially wanted his grandson to study architecture in Tongji University in Shanghai. But Chenyang has chosen Duke Kunshan,” said Lu. “In the past two months, we were very pleased to find that he has become more proactive in learning and more independent, thanks to Duke Kunshan."

Weijun Wang, a mother from Jiangsu Province, and Huiqiong Zha, a mother from Anhui Province, said that through the family weekend events, Duke Kunshan can join forces with both parents and students to help guide the university’s long-term development.

“During this visit, I’ve recognized that this place is just right for an academic institution. The courses all sound very interesting. Even I became highly interested,” Wang said.

“We attended this event not only to see our daughter, but also to see her classmates,” she added, saying the parents didn't know each other before, but now they all share a common bond through the university, since their loved ones are there.

Lan TANG also contributed to this story.