Harvard-Yenching Institute Visiting Fellowship Programme
by Wei Bingbing
Department of History
Thanks to the Harvard-Yenching Institute Visiting Fellowship Programme, I had an opportunity to study and live at Harvard University for three semesters, from August 2011 to January 2013. It was a dreamlike journey, an experience that I will cherish for a lifetime.
For anyone who has certain commitment to academia, Harvard is a paradise to conduct research. Aside from its numerous world-class scholars and brilliant students, it also has a lovely campus and the largest university library system in the world. Registering as a student of the Graduate School of Arts and Science, I had access to almost all facilities and resources. I collected materials for my dissertation and audited a few courses that interested me. A professor was assigned as my mentor, who offered me much guidance and help in terms of research. There are a large number of seminars, talks, conferences, and other academic activities held in the university every semester, which provided not just interesting discussions and inspiring ideas but also good refreshments. I took the opportunity to attend a couple of them while preparing my dissertation.
The Harvard-Yenching Institute (HYI) provides Visiting Fellows with excellent conditions to study and live there. The monthly stipend is more than enough for living expense, and one could apply for extra funding to attend a conference in North America. Young Fellows share offices with established Visiting Scholars from different countries of Asia. I learnt a lot from my office mates who were always willing to give me a hand in both study and life.
My visiting experience at Harvard, for sure, was not merely about research. Living in the dormitory during the first two semesters, I made some good friends from all over the world. Cambridge, the town where the university was located, and the adjacent city Boston, are well known for their beautiful views, colorful history, and rich cultural life. It was always pleasant to take a walk along the elegant Charles River, at any time of the day. Boston has wonderful museums, theaters, symphony, sports teams, and etc. The HYI organises a few trips around New England each year. I also took a couple of long-distance journeys myself too.
Dedicated to promoting the studies of humanities, arts, and social sciences in Asia, the HYI has been supporting outstanding scholars and students from Asian academic institutions to visit Harvard for decades. Focusing mainly on East Asia previously, there has been increasing attention on Southeast Asia recently. NUS has established a solid cooperative relationship with HYI, and I strongly encourage graduate students to apply for the Visiting Fellowship programme as well as other programmes offered by HYI.