Duke Kunshan Welcomes New Students with Orientation and Convocation Ceremony

August 20, 2016

The 2016-2017 academic year is officially underway as new students from around the world enthusiastically embark on their education adventure at Duke Kunshan University. Amidst a full week of academic and team-building orientation activities, an opening convocation was held on campus to welcome the new students and faculty members on August 19th. The convocation program featured a formal academic procession, in which the new students pledged to uphold principles of honesty, fairness, respect and responsibility by signing the Duke Kunshan Community Standard. 

Students Reading and Signing the Duke Kunshan Community Standard

Duke Kunshan Faculty Members Witnessing Students Signing the Community Standard

Professor Denis Simon, executive vice chancellor of Duke Kunshan University, kicked off the ceremony with an inspiring welcome speech, in which he applauded the students’ courage to choose this young but ambitious university. “All of you are adventurers - the fact that you chose to come here means that you have an open mind. At Duke Kunshan, you will have the chance to explore your interests, and to take courses in areas that you have never encountered before.” He also exhorted the students to be responsible community members, “as a community, you have the responsibility to help one another, and to make them feel they are not alone on this campus.”

Professor Denis Simon

“The education experience at Duke Kunshan provides a wonderful opportunity for you to prepare yourself for an increasingly globalized world. The coming semester allows you to learn more about other people’s cultures, about how to work with and interact with people from different backgrounds, and also how to adapt to new cultural settings,” speaking on behalf of the faculty, Professor Don Snow, director of the Language and Culture Center at Duke Kunshan University, highlighted the university’s cultural diversity and liberal arts curriculum in his speech. “Another thing that would make your Duke Kunshan experience special is the university’s liberal arts curriculum, which is designed to build your ability to analyze, to process data, and to learn.”

Professor Don Snow

Student speakers Hanxiao Deng and Nick Peoples also shared their excitement and expectations for the coming semester. “I firmly believe that the best future belongs to those who are global-minded, and who can combine the best of East and West in an innovative way,” Hanxiao Deng, an undergraduate Global Learning Semester (GLS) student who comes from Wuhan University, encouraged his fellow students to tap into Duke Kunshan’s culturally diverse environment and develop a global mindset. “Students of the Global Learning Semester program come from all around the world, which provides a good chance for us to embrace diversity and learn about different cultures; at the same time, we will also face some challenges.” 

Hanxiao Deng

The other student speaker Nick Peoples, a GLS ’15 alumnus, is now a MSc. in Global Health ’18. Drawing upon his previous experiences at Duke Kunshan, Nick shared with the new students “two lessons” he learned during his time at the university. “Lesson one: this is a multi-cultural, multi-lingual campus. No matter who you are, eventually you are going to find yourself in an embarrassing or awkward situation – and this is a good thing! So, be ready for it, and embrace it.” To illustrate his second lesson, Nick also recounted how he “created” an internship opportunity out of “nothing” by leveraging the resources of Duke Kunshan University, – “If you seek out opportunities here, you will find them – or you can create them.”

Nick Peoples

During the orientation week, a series of academic and fun activities were offered a week prior to the beginning of classes. From August 14 through August 20, all new students went through multiple sessions on campus policies, safety and health, academic integrity, intercultural competence, academic and facility resources, and so on. The university also hosted special sessions that addressed questions unique to international students to prepare them for their study and life in Kunshan, China.

Orientation Activities

All the new students of the undergraduate Global Learning Semester program, global health and medical physics graduate programs will start their first classes next week. New students of Class 2017 of the Master of Management Studies (MMS: Duke Kunshan University) already started their study at the Fuqua School of Business on Duke University Campus in Durham, North Carolina last month. The MMS students sent their greetings to the Duke Kunshan community through a welcome video at the opening convocation. Scheduled to come to Duke Kunshan campus for their last two terms of study in January, the MMS students used the video to share their pride in being part of the Duke Kunshan community. 

Students Watching Welcome Video by MMS: Duke Kunshan University Class of 2017