TBSI Graduate Story | Xi Jingyang: Building a bridge across cultures

June 24 2020

Xi Jingyang’2020, Canadian, is graduated with a master's degree in management science and engineering at TBSI. Under the guidance of supervisor Prof. Wai Kin (Victor) Chan, He focused his research on disaster management. Xi has already received a PhD offer from TBSI for further research. With the intention to build a bridge bringing together students from different cultures, he founded iShare, a cultural exchange program for international students.

Enthusiastic on international student activities

Q: What makes you so fascinated with organizing activities? How do you balance research and extracurricular activities?

Xi: Back in my undergraduate years, I was already active in organizing student activities. Shortly after I started my campus life at TBSI, a teacher asked me if I was interested in working on international student affairs. Of course yes, so I set about supporting TBSI's international student activities. I was honored to be  elected as the Vice President of Graduate Student Union.

Organizing activities sharpened my skills in many ways and brought me a strong sense of accomplishment. Besides, I got to make friends from all parts of the world.

I have the clearest memory of leading a team of international student scholars on a trip to Beijing for the John Ma Cup during Tsinghua's anniversary celebration in 2018. That was the first trip I organized and led. A lot of students, including myself, had never been to Tsinghua's main campus in Beijing. Visiting the campus was an overwhelming experience and filled us with pride. The trip also gave us a better understanding of China's culture and history.

Xi Jingyang (the second from the left in the rear row) and the team visiting Schwarzman Scholars

Future plan: making contributions to disaster management

Q: You are about to start pursuing a PhD program at TBSI. What is your plan for the future?

Xi: I will allocate more time to academic research during my PhD years.

My research direction, disaster management, is a branch of management science and engineering. There are different countermeasures in three different stages of a disaster: prevention, response and reconstruction.

My research is about disaster response. I design and test computerized simulation models that tell us what it is like when disasters happen. Such models help optimize response plans and provide constructive suggestions on how to handle disasters better. I hope my research findings will improve disaster response, which serves the public and makes contributions to the country.

Advice for future graduates: make full use of interdisciplinary courses

Q: What prompted you to choose TBSI in the first place? Why did you decide to go on with a PhD program at TBSI? What advice do you have for future graduates?

Xi: When I knew UC Berkeley and Tsinghua had joined hands to found a new institute known as TBSI, it felt quite novel. Besides, I had a plan to develop a career in China. That was why I chose TBSI.

During my master's years, my priority was to study China's disaster and emergency management by using computerized simulation models. The COVID-19 pandemic suddenly broke out when I was preparing for graduation. I realized I should press ahead with my research. Then I decided to stay at TBSI for a PhD.

TBSI sets up interdisciplinary courses. I suggest future graduates get to know about different research areas, to find out what suit them best and really interest them. If students have spare time, they may take part in more extracurricular activities. That helps them develop skills and connects them to high-caliber people in the same age group.

An engineering student, a designer, and a singer

Q: Pick a single adjective to describe yourself.

Xi: Maybe "creative". I always look for new methods to do things that appear ordinary to others.

I do some design and use art to express myself, such as design booklets and posters for TBSI's cultural exchange activities.

Xi Jingyang's designed works

Q: In 2019, you made it all the way to the final of Tsinghua's Annual Singing Competition. Tell us the story between you and music.

Xi: Singing is my hobby. During the last few years, I participated in quite some competitions and did pretty well. When I first came to TBSI, I learned about Tsinghua's Annual Singing Competition, a grand event held in a stadium big enough to accommodate over one thousand people. I just wanted to take my chance. The competition had four elimination rounds. I made it to the final, but I kind of blew it because I was sick. Anyway, it was an amazing, eye-opening experience. I look forward to returning to that stage.

Xi Jingyang onstage at Tsinghua's Annual Singing Competition

A more international, open, and united Tsinghua SIGS

Q: In which aspects do you think TBSI has done a good job?

Xi: A higher level of internationalization is definitely a highlight. More and more international students are joining our big family. As well as cultural exchange activities are increasing, like traditional holiday celebrations, the Mentor Partnership Program, and the Global Competence Salon. I hope TBSI invite more Chinese and foreign teachers involved in such activities. That will make SIGS and TBSI more international and open.

Xi Jingyang (leftmost) at Global Competence Youth Event

Editor: Fei