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Lim, Yeoh, and Loke: Three Malaysians’ life at Peking University

AUG . 27 2020
Peking University, August 27, 2020: With four years being invested in the university of their choice, three students from Malaysia graduated from Peking University (PKU) this summer, and their efforts finally paid off. Lim Ji Hong from the Guanghua School of Management, Yeoh Wen Fei from the School of Archaeology and Museology and Loke You Rong from the School of Journalism and Communication are all proud recipients of the Peking University Excellent International Students Award of the Year 2019-2020. They all excelled in different aspects, an illustration of the multi-cultural background of PKU and a testament to the students from Malaysia.


From left to right: Loke You Rong, Lim Ji Hong and Yeoh Wen Fei

Choosing PKU

After graduating from high school, all three students faced the milestone of deciding where to go to university. For all three however, the decision to make PKU their first choice was no challenge. Peking University’s promising performance and international reputation made PKU an obvious choice. Loke in particular talks about how her father has had a passion for China since she was a kid, something that has no doubt influenced her choices in life. For Yeoh, the decision to choose Peking University to pursue her bachelor’s degree was easy, and it took her only a week to decide which university she wanted to attend and her major, also influenced by her father’s interest in China.

Cross-culture

Arriving to study in a totally different culture and an unfamiliar education system might sound daunting, and although not being without its challenges, all three students were able to adapt and thrive to their new campus life. Culture shocks such as experiencing different views on religion and education, as well as a tough introduction to Chinese style Mathematics classes for Lim, didn’t stop these students from excelling at PKU. In and outside of class, both Loke and Lim agreed, it was extremely beneficial to develop good relationships with local students who have a deeper understanding and experience with the Chinese education system, in order to gain some assistance from their new friends helping them settle into their new life in Beijing. When it comes to different values on religion, Yeoh as a Buddhist, noticed that most of the local Chinese students didn’t hold the same level of importance in praying to the Buddha as she does. “But when I try to live in their shoes, realizing that they haven’t actually been educated in the same way we were educated to worship Buddha as a sacred figure, it gets easier to understand their point of view and to respect people of different religious standings,” Yeoh said. Yeoh went on to impart an important message for us all, “be open-minded!”

Besides the initial hardship in coping with culture shocks, there have also been embarrassing moments when learning how to pronounce some Chinese words because of the difference between Malaysian-style Mandarin and Chinese-style Mandarin. Lim shared some of his experiences, “I used to say zhà jì that means fried chicken, but no one can understand me here, then I realized it should be zhà jī.” A similar situation arose when trying to understand some of the lecturers speaking with an unusual accent or a hint of a dialect.

There have also been some misunderstandings over stereotypes. Some locals don't know where Malaysia is, and some might assume Malaysians all live in trees and more often, some will recognize their accents as Taiwanese instead. The students have learned to keep calm in the face of these stereotypes and explain the misunderstandings to locals. Although Lim joked, “Sometimes I just go with I am from Guangdong or Fujian, so they won’t ask more questions.”

Aid from the ‘host’

Even with all those embarrassing and sometimes challenging moments, Loke still extends her appreciation towards the International Students Division for all their help throughout her student life at PKU. PKU is doing exceptionally good in helping international students cope with living in a country far from their homeland, and solving problems when they arise.

The international student dormitory, Zhongguanyuan Global Village, is doing a great job in maintaining its platform for multiculturalism, especially with the recent establishment of a Residential Assistant team made up by international students from across the globe. They have also organized a series of activities that provide a fair platform for all international students living in the dormitory to communicate and get to know each other’s backgrounds better.
   
Balancing the scale of life

Lim felt that while everyone else around him was out socializing, he needed to sacrifice his social time to maintain his GPA of 3.749, making him the top scorer among international students in the Guanghua School of Management.


Lim Jihong (first from righ), photo taken after performed the Lion Dance for the Malaysia Festival 2017

Yeoh talked about how she sacrificed quality family time as she made room for research in her major, as well as participating in activities like HOPE volunteering and being on the Board of Directors of the Inside PKU magazine, once going one month without properly connecting with her family.
 

Yeoh Wenfei participates in the Yunnan Lahu Ethnic Minpan Minority Inheritors Public Welfare Survey

Loke has achieved her success today by joining activities related to her major, such as being the head of publicity in student bodies like the Malaysian Students Association at Peking University, Association of Malaysian Students in Beijing and directing the full performance of Peking University’s 120th Anniversary International Students’ Gala Night. Loke thought both the knowledge learned from her lectures and the experiences of her extra-curricular activities have shaped her into who she is today. One of the activities that has inspired her the most was back when she was in charge of pre-shooting, editing and producing videos needed for the Peking University’s 120th Anniversary International Students’ Gala Night, which included interviewing alumni and shooting a video of blessings. She was assigned to interview alumni of PKU such as Ragnar Baldursson, minister of the Embassy of Iceland in Beijing, Jaime A. FlorCruz, former chief and correspondent of CNN Beijing Bureau, and Mustafa Al-Safarini, director of the Arab-Sino Information Exchange Center. As Loke recalled, Baldursson liked writing poems when he was in school. He read a poem he had written in school in his own language, which she found emotionally moving. FlorCruz also moved Loke when he agreed to her request to play the guitar for the first time in 20 years for PKU’s 120th anniversary shoot. After the interview, he even personally asked Loke for a place to buy guitars. Loke recalled, “Although they are all accomplished giants now, when they talk about their alma mater, Peking University, and when they talk about the campus, their smiles are so approachable, sincere and cute. I was really inspired by that. In any case, I must not forget why I started my studies and give back to the society.”
 

Loke Yourong, photo taken after the 120th PKU anniversary International Students Gala Night.

Hitting the milestone

All in all, winning the Peking University Excellent International Students Award is of course meaningful to all of the students. It is a token of appreciation and affirmation to all that they have achieved so far at PKU. This award has inspired Lim to apply for jobs he loves in the future, Yeoh to contribute more back to the society, and Loke as a reminder to improve herself and be better in her English proficiency.

After hitting such milestones in life, the students remain humble and only hope for the best for their futures. Loke and Yeoh wish to continue their master’s studies at PKU and UCL respectively. The three interviewees also provide some advice and suggestions for fellow juniors. They all agree and have supplied these words of wisdom below:

Lim: “Behave well in all those good qualities you had been taught.”
Yeoh: “Dare to make your own choice and don’t let peer pressure affect your path in life.”
Loke: “Utilize the resources you can get in this campus and don’t let it go to waste.”


Lim Ji Hong (left), Yeoh Wen Fei (central), and Loke You Rong (right) at the interview

Written by: Heng Xuan Ming
Edited by: Ciara Morris, Huang Weijian