Christina Bowllan has always used souvenirs and snacks as a way to share her life in China with her family in New York City. Hickory nuts from a trip to Moganshan, where she traveled with other Chinese language students during her sophomore year. Green tea from E’mei Mountain in Sichuan Province. Fungus soup from Yunnan. A lesson in dumpling wrapping.
Back when they were first-year students who had just moved into the same floor of the Jinqiao Residence Hall, Sarah Armstrong ’22 and Leslie Huang Sijia ’22 would often run into each other at night on the way to raid the fridge. The seniors now describe their chance encounters as yuanfen, a Chinese expression of fateful coincidence or luck that nurtured their friendship.
For Move-In Day 2018, Sam Ong ’22 says he and his parents took different flights to Shanghai from his hometown of Singapore. “My parents told me I had to learn a lesson on responsibility and asked me to book my own ticket here,” Ong recalls. “I ended up booking my ticket extremely late and had to come in through Guangzhou.”
When asked to summarize her four years in NYU Shanghai in a word, Elin Shi Yiling ’22 replies, “pandemic.” COVID-19 cast its shadow over three out of the Class of 2022’s four years at college, forcing classes online for long periods of time and challenging the university’s mission of bringing students from a variety of nationalities together. Nevertheless, this year’s student Commencement speaker still found ways to transform some of the challenges of her time into opportunities to make a difference.
When Chen Xinyue '22 arrived as a first-year student at NYU Shanghai in the fall of 2018, she had never before written a line of code or even taken a class in computer science. Still, when choosing her first-year classes, she decided to give Introduction to Computer Programming a shot.
Bongani Ntsakani Musikavanhu ’22 usually hesitates when asked about where he calls home. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Musikavanhu moved with his family to Boston, Massachusetts when he was nine. “Boston grew on me, but if it were the Olympics, I would be cheering for South Africa,” he laughs. As the Class of 2022’s student commencement speaker, he’s looking forward to addressing the friends, professors, and NYU Shanghai community members who have become yet another home for him these past four years.
Last fall, Steve Jingyuan Cai ’22 decided to do something a little unusual for a senior: Enroll in Professor Emily Tsiang’s Life Design class, a 100-level course, designed to help students (often younger students) map out their years at NYU Shanghai and beyond.