NYU Shanghai Welcomes the Class of 2023
NYU Shanghai formally welcomed 434 of its newest community members August 26 with an all-class morning convocation for the Class of 2023. Chancellor Yu Lizhong, Vice Chancellor Jeff Lehman, and Provost Joanna Waley-Cohen each challenged the first year class - 220 from China and 214 from 38 countries and regions around the world - to make the most of their opportunity to spend their college years in a unique cross-cultural setting.
“Stretch yourself,” Vice Chancellor Lehman said, a process he described as committing yourself to taking risks, making mistakes, and spending at least two hours every day in conversation with a classmate from a different culture.
Lehman also urged first years to “master the craft of civil disagreement” by practicing active listening and making a commitment to having real, in-person conversations. “Here, we are committed to a sensibility that says we should push ourselves to engage deeply with problems and arguments, to keep pushing together for a shared vocabulary and a shared understanding,” Lehman said.
A sea of purple! Chancellor Yu Lizhong addresses first year students, all of whom wear purple t-shirts emblazoned with “Class of 2023”
“If you stretch yourself in this way, I promise that you are going to graduate in 2023 with a set of skills that will make you stand out in everything that you do,” he added. “It will completely change your life. It will completely change the opportunities that you will enjoy for the next 60 years.”
Provost Joanna Waley-Cohen offered students a roadmap to navigating friendships and cultural dialogue in NYU Shanghai’s simultaneously Chinese and international community.
“That double identity will affect your every waking moment, even if you don’t realize it,” Waley-Cohen observed. “It’s as though you are moving in multiple directions at the same time, all the time, as you move through the day.”
Waley-Cohen drew on her own experience as an international student to demonstrate how these multiple directions – when sufficiently reflected upon – can “make you less likely to see the world in terms of us and them, and the less you do that, the stronger our community can be.”
She left first years with a key piece of advice that will be familiar to both Chinese and international students alike, a rule that applies regardless of what identities students hold. “Remember Confucius’s golden rule: Do not treat others in a way you would not want to be treated yourself,” Waley-Cohen said.
The leaders’ words seemed to resonate with many in the audience. Yunyi Wang (王韵依) ’23 of Chengdu, Sichuan said she was ready to meet Lehman’s exhortation to step out of comfort zones. In fact, it was one of the main reasons she considered coming to NYU Shanghai in the first place.“Challenging yourself makes you feel alive and helps you realize that you are still young and have so many opportunities ahead of you. I was really happy to find a university that could give me that feeling,” she said.
First-year students chat and laugh as convocation comes to a close
Earlier, as they waited for the convocation to begin, Chinese and international students mingled, exchanging names, greetings, and WeChat QR codes. Abigail Chipps ’23, who arrived Sunday from South Korea, said she is looking forward to meeting new people and “learning more about the world through them.” Chipps, a United States citizen who has spent most of her life living outside the US, is excited to have found a university where international exchange is key to campus life and where her classmates’ mindsets are just as international as her own.
“Because everyone here is from different backgrounds, we can really understand each other better,” she said.
Over the coming Orientation week, students will attend workshops, dialogues, and activities designed to mold a cohesive class from one of the most diverse student bodies in the world. First years will bond with upperclassmen mentors in the Fun Olympics, develop their team spirit at Game Night, and dress to the nines for NYU Shanghai’s first-ever new student ball.
Chancellor Yu Lizhong, who opened the convocation by sharing his own 10-year journey to becoming a university student, reminded students of the greater purpose behind the fun and friendships that will characterize their years at NYU Shanghai.
“A dream is a goal, a vision, a hope, a motivation for our life. I hope all of you can discover your own wonderful dreams and make every effort to achieve them,” Yu said. “What’s more, I hope you can incorporate your personal dream into the dream of human society and the dream of the world.”
Upperclass orientation volunteers introduce Class of 2023 students to NYU Shanghai’s lighter side with a dance performance during Monday’s convocation ceremony.
Move-in Day took place August 26. Click the photo below to see the Class of 2023's first moments on campus.