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The communicative bridge: voluntary stories behind the 8th World Women University Presidents Forum
Author:Xu Yumeng, Lu Xinqiang, Hu Yue, Zheng Xiaoxia, Wei Yena, Lu Huixin  Date:2018-05-22  Clicks:

On April 7th, the 8th World Women University Presidents Forum was successfully held in Wuhan University. The energetic campus surrounded by the warm ambience of spring opened her arms to welcome over 150 distinguished guests—University presidents from 51countries and regions, and the officials from UNESCO. They travelled a long way to gather in Wuhan, exchanging opinions and delivering speeches on the theme of “Future Education”, “New Leadership” and “Community with Shared Future for Mankind”. The conference was held for two days, during which the eminent female university presidents charted courses for the development under the background of high-speed information tide.


The opening ceremony of the forum

One thing has to be particularly mentioned is that through this two-day idea-exchanging journey, students from Wuhan University took an active and important part in organizing this large-scale international affair. They had an honorable name in common, which they bore loud and proud—the volunteers from Wuhan University. Diverse as they came from different schools and departments, all of the volunteers shared a common goal for the upcoming conference: As a student delegate of Wuhan University, we shall build a bridge that facilitates mutual communication.

After the conference, we interviewed a number of volunteers to share their feelings about this spectacular experience.

Lu Xinqiang, Electronic Information School

Firstly please allow me to introduce what I have contributed to this forum. I was responsible for guiding forum members at the train station, fulfilling my duty from 3:30 to 9:30 pm on April 7thand sending about ten of them to the hotel.

 I was glad to share my experiences during these days. First of all, I quite appreciate that our leaders held two training sessions about first-aid treatment and diplomatic protocol respectively. Besides, it was incredible that everyone had been allocated into different groups according to their capabilities and specialties in such a short time, which reflected the expeditious nature of our department. What’s more, it was my honor to meet different leaders from various schools and offer my help as much as possible. And of course, I made many new friends, which I think is the most precious part during this activity.

Also, I want to share my thought on the topics for this forum. As we can see from the official Wuhan University website, this forum is about future education, fated community, etc. One of the members referred to One Belt One Roadput forward by President Xi. There is no denying that all of these topics are crucial for human development. However, I suppose these have been put forward for a long time. Some unfair and critical phenomena demand prompt solutions, such as racial discrimination, regional imbalance of education resources, international cultural conflicts and even wars that has taken place these days in Syria. So from my perspective, I suggest not to focus on abstract commonplace but to emphasize specific issues involved with politics. For instance, how to fight against gender discrimination, economic and political dictatorship with everyone’s efforts and intelligence in this forum? In a word, we should envisage the realities apart from the progress we have made in human development.


The theme of this year’s forum

Hu Yue, English Literature major

The forum is such a precious chance for me to meet outstanding females and communicate with them. I encountered Dr. Marvalene Hughes at the registry, she came and asked some questions about the phone. "You look comfortable today.” She told me after the problem was solved. I can tell that she said it out of habit, as for some people, praise composes their daily conversation and I've been used to that for long. But for me who was hurrying here and there at the time, picking up the phone, handing out notices to newly arrived guests, it did leave an impression on me. That was the first day of my voluntary work there.


The conference room arranged by the volunteers

In the following days, I turned to help with conference affairs, and sat in the conference room to assist whoever was on the scene and needed a hand. One great benefit of this was that you got to listen to all their speeches: Dr. Hu Dabai who had suffered from terrible burns started a university with merely 30 yuan; Dr. Sara Ladrón de Guevara who failed to come showed the obstruction of female leadership in Mexico with the help of another speaker; and presidents continued discussing even after the forum ended. Their stories and ideas led you to believe that this kind of new leadership can and will make a difference.

Zheng Xiaoxia, Junior student of translation and interpreting


Presidents taking pictures as they received their honors

   “Hi, good afternoon, my name is Natalie Staff from Panama.” This is the massage that I received from a special new WeChat friend, whom I was waiting for at the hotel that afternoon. Natalie, the international project coordinator from the University of Panama, was coming to Wuhan to attend the 8thWorld Women University Presidents Forum held in the Wuhan University. I was responsible for her reception and being her personal volunteer over the next few days. About half an hour later, I saw a pretty lady come into the hotel lobby, honestly, I didn’t expect her to be so young and for her to still be energetic after the long flight. I helped her complete the check-in and sent her to her room, chatting casually along the way. She seemed kind of like an “old China hand”, maybe that had something to dowith her stay in Beijing in the past few months. “Xie xie ni, dai hui jian. (Thank you, see you later.)”, she said to me in Chinese when I left.

  The volunteering job became very meaningful as she was heavily impressed me with her demeanor and great manners, which set a perfect example for me about how excellent one could even be at such a young age. I realized that the meaning of being a volunteer was just as the saying goes, “The rose is in her hand, the flavor in mine.” So just as the words she sent to me when she left, “…thank you and your colleagues for everything, for all the help you guys have given us during the forum…I wish you the best of luck in your life…”

Wei Yena, one-on-one volunteer with the president

 Izelle Dubuisson DORSSAINVIL, dean of Queensland University from the Republic of Haiti, is a pleasant middle-aged woman. At first sight, I thought that she was a serious silent “cool” person. After chatting with her I found out that she was just tired because she transferred three times by way of four countries and regions in a two-day journey from Port-au-Prince (the capital city of Haiti) to Wuhan. It made her the guest who had the most “bumpy” travel with the most rugged experience.

Izelle took no cell phone with her, nor did she have one, yet it didn’t bother her at all. At the hotel, I showed her how to use the telephone and encouraged her to contact me whenever she needed. However, my phone didn’t ring for her, not even once. She lived independently, with her mind wholeheartedly occupied by the content of the conference (she herself is a French speaker). She hosted a meeting focusing on the topic of female university presidents and new leadership as well as gave a speech in French with her life experience of being a female president in Africa. She was confident, hard-working and most importantly, warm-hearted. “Your city is beautiful,” during the ride from the airport to the hotel, though troubled by the fatigue and jet lag, she told me, admiringly.


Ms. Izelle Dubuisson DORSSAINVIL

Lu Huixin, School of Foreign Language and Literature

To be a volunteer of the World Women University Forum is a great fortune for me since I get access to many successful and renowned university presidents. Actually, we do not have much time to get to accompany the presidents, and the longest time for me to spend time with them was on the way from the airport to the hotel. But during the way, I realized that we really needed to get in touch with our own Chinese culture, especially the Wuhan city culture, in order to share our views. They were quite interested about what makes Wuhan special in China or even the world, and also eager to know the traditional local heritages and the stories behind them. Not being a local person, at that time, I could only briefly introduce some popular sites to them like the Yellow Crane Tower, but I couldn’t share more details with them, which was a great pity for me.

Statistically speaking, two days may not be a large number in one’s life-long journey. But for the presidents and volunteers themselves, these two days marked a mutual-learning, idea-exchanging experience that drew us closer together and ignited the power of youth’s imagination .

(Photo by the volunteers in the report)

(Edited by: Zheng Yayun, Edmund Wai Man Lai, Liu Jiachen and Liu Xiaoli)


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