Students taking part in Fudan University’s BRICS Summer Program take a cultural trip to Xitang ancient town in Jiashan county, East China’s Zhejiang province. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)While the heads of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa got together for the 10th annual BRICS meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, in July, 31 students from those countries attended the BRICS Summer Program 2018 at Fudan University in Shanghai.
The program, which ended last week, received undergraduates and graduates from different backgrounds, ranging from law and international relations to economics.
In total, 141 students attended the one-month program. And this year, the majority came from Brazil and South Africa.
"As China is the main trading partner of Brazil, Brazilians want to get to know more about the culture, politics and economy of China," says Giovanni Okado, a professor of international relations at the Pontifical Catholic University of Goias and a PhD candidate at the University of Brasilia.
Each year, the program offers 20 scholarships.
Speaking about the grants, Li Lei, a postgraduate from the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, says: "The scholarships are a great way to strengthen communication among students and make the basis of BRICS cooperation stronger."
The summer school offered classes on two topics - China's politics, diplomacy and relations with Brazil, Russia, India and Africa, and BRICS Cooperation and Global Governance, which covers south-south cooperation and cyberspace governance. And the students also had the opportunity to share their views during discussions and by sharing academic papers.
Speaking about the program, Hou Xiaochen, manager of the BRICS Summer Program's center for BRICS studies, says: "This course aims to enhance communication among young people in the BRICS countries."
The students also say that the course is an opportunity to enhance people-to-people exchanges and understanding.
As for Okado, he says: "Institutional cooperation starts with people-to-people exchanges, so the more people connect, the better the cooperation will be."
For Luiza de Silva Nakamura, a Brazilian PhD student at the school of international development at Nagoya University, the connection with other students is the most valuable experience of the program.
"Through this cultural exchange I gained deeper knowledge about each member country and what brings us together," says Silva Nakamura.
For Chandan Panigrahi, from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, the cultural exchange was a remarkable experience.
"The program has helped me in tremendous ways to learn about different cultures," he says.
Part of the cultural activities included visits to museums, a trip to Xitang water town and a river cruise on the Bund.
The students also paid a visit to the New Development Bank headquarters in Shanghai.
Commenting on the visit, Sanika Ranadive, an economics student from St. Xavier's College, in Mumbai, says: "The visit to the NDB and interacting with the employees offers insight into the structural procedures of the bank."
For some, the program helped them to decide on pursuing their studies in China.
Lagutina Maria Pavlovna, who is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, plans to enroll in a master's program at Fudan University.
"I have been learning Chinese for six years and BRICS is a good way to practice the language."
Zena America, from Stellenbosch University in South Africa, says the program complemented what she studied in her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.
"My assumptions of China and its people were skewed by depictions in the Western media," she says. "So, this was an opportunity to learn about the Chinese perspective, particularly how the country sees itself in world politics."
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