Parents & Students: We are NYU Shanghai!


Within the diverse community of NYU Shanghai, a group of parents selflessly give their time and energy to post news about the university on social media platforms.

They discuss a range of topics, including their students’ daily life, educational policies, study abroad, and employment, navigating foreign cultures. They organize events and maintain regular dialogue with leadership to share experiences, bringing together thousands of parents of NYU Shanghai students all over the world.

One of these parents is Frank Chen Yuguang, father of Chen Sida ’23. As a local Shanghainese, Chen is warm-hearted and hospitable, answering questions and helping parents make sure their students’ needs are met in Shanghai. With his background working for international non-profit organizations, he is proficient in foreign languages and cross-cultural communications and has always been eager to help others. 

Over the past four years, parents of international students know to “ask Frank if you need help.”


Frank Chen (left) receives a cake from Sam Kominowski ’25 during the Class of 2023 Commencement season. The cake was a gift to Chen from parents of international students to show their appreciation

Practical Actions to Help New Students and Parents Adapt to Their New Life Chapter 

Chen started learning more about NYU Shanghai when his son received the admission offer. Like most parents, Chen joined several WeChat groups and paid close attention to popular discussions on Facebook to learn more about what his child’s university life would be like.

Browsing through the available information, Chen felt his questions weren’t fully answered. He wrote a long post, attaching pictures of the campus he found on NYU Shangahi’s official website. His post drew a lot of attention from parents of international students once it was published, and questions from all over the world flooded into his inbox.

During the Class of 2023’s orientation week, Chen took the lead in organizing the first gathering of over 100 parents of Chinese and international students. Despite the fact that they didn't know each other, they bonded over their common identity as NYU Shanghai parents.

After the event, Chen created two shared documents sharing tips for international students and parents and tips for Chinese students studying away and applying for postgraduate education. He suggested everyone add the information they gathered in the documents, which could then be shared with more parents in need. 

Today those shared documents have been read more than 8,000 times and shared in multiple parent chat groups. The information provides tips on food, clothing, housing, and transportation, overcoming homesickness, adapting to university life. 

Overcome Difficulties Together. We are Shanghai!

WeChat groups for parents of both Chinese and international students have been a source of mutual help and solidarity in the NYU Shanghai community, especially in 2020 at the start of the global pandemic.

At the height of the pandemic in Shanghai, a group of five or six Chinese parents drove a dozen international students to Pudong International Airport to catch flights home. Later, when New York became the epicenter, Chinese parents quickly set up a team to donate masks to four hospitals and one nursing home in New York.


Parents of international students drop off masks donated by Chinese NYU Shanghai parents to NYU Langone Medical Center in 2020

Many parents of international students were touched by the Chinese NYU Shanghai parents’ warm-hearted and rapid response, despite the difficulties of mask-purchasing and cross-border donation logistics. “We were not sure if we could make it at the beginning,” Chen remembers. “Everyone was fighting for a common goal and trying their best.” 

When they heard that some international students could not go home during the winter vacation, Chen and other Chinese parents arranged for more than a dozen families of local Shanghai students to invite them to their homes for Lunar New Year’s Eve dinner. That kind gesture has now become an annual tradition for the past three years, immersing international students in traditional Chinese culture.

Chen treats NYU Shanghai students as if they were his own, taking American students to Costco, accompanying international students to the hospital, and helping them open Chinese bank accounts. He even helped a Chinese student arrange for emergency surgery in New York.

Live Up to Expectations and Stride to the Future

How time flies! At the Class of 2023 Commencement and the Oriental Pearl Tower Lighting Ceremony, parents from all over the world gathered together to celebrate their children’s development over the past four years, and recognize all the adversities they overcame. Whether they continue on to postgraduate education or join the workforce, these graduates have demonstrated resilience in the face of challenges brought on by the pandemic.


Group photo of Frank Chen (far right) and parents of international students at the NYU Shanghai Oriental Pearl Tower Lighting Ceremony on May 21, 2023



Group photo of Chinese and international parents of NYU Shanghai graduates at Commencement on May 22, 2023

In fact, there are more “Franks” among NYU Shanghai’s parent groups who express their support and concern for this Sino-foreign research-oriented university community.

One of them, Zhang Qiling, a parent of Class of 2018 alumni, organized the NYU Shanghai Global Parents Alliance, which brought together more than 200 NYU Shanghai parents to donate a study room. Another parent, Mr. Liang, provided flowers for graduates at the 2023 Commencement, after two years of being unable to do so. Ms. LaJaunie, a parent of an American student, has invited Chinese students who study away in New York to her home. Another parent, Mr. Huang, has provided phone support to Chinese students who have trouble while studying away in New York.


From Frank’s perspective, choosing NYU Shanghai means choosing a different life path. “I often tell my son that it is impossible to meet everyone’s expectations, but we must live up to our own. By attending NYU Shanghai, a unique university, your future will be unpredictable.”

If NYU Shanghai is the promoter of exchanges and relationships between China and the US, parents are the “heroes” standing behind all students. Thanks to their efforts, students of NYU Shanghai perform well on the international stage while facing challenges and competition. Thanks to their dedication, NYU Shanghai can move forward fearlessly towards a brighter future.