By BISMA AHMAD
Global Business Journalism reporter
Orientation week for the incoming Global Business Journalism Class of 2020 has officially begun. Despite logistical challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Tsinghua University welcomed its international GBJ students via its first online orientation meeting on Aug. 30. Sixteen students from Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and South America attended the first orientation session hosted by Global Business Journalism co-director Rick Dunham.
“China is safe, Beijing is safer, but Tsinghua University is the safest place,” Professor Dunham told the students stranded in their home nations by the global spread of the coronavirus.
Joined by GBJ administrative staffer Li Chengzhang, Professor Dunham gave students an introduction to the 13-year-old program, its faculty and curriculum through a detailed PowerPoint presentation detailed the opportunities and experiences the program offers. He emphasized that skills emphasized in the program, such as critical thinking and good writing, The professor told the incoming students that they should not limit themselves to classes, but should explore China and form friendships with each other and with Tsinghua’s Chinese students. He advised the students to take advantage of the diverse opportunities available on the Tsinghua campus and GBJ’s multicultural faculty.
“For us you are not just numbers, you are people who we want to help individually, teach and mentor,” said Professor Dunham.
Created in 2007, Global Business Journalism was China’s first all-English international degree program. It takes pride in its rich history and alumni success stories. Top students from over 65 countries have studied in the program. With a motto of “Pride, Passion and Pursuit,” GBJ promotes diversity and teamwork. Despite the challenges of an online learning process during the global COVID-19 pandemic, Professor Dunham pledged that “our cooperative faculty will do their best to give you a rewarding experience.”
Orientation will continue for two weeks with sessions featuring professors and university administrators. Classes are scheduled to begin on Monday, Sept. 14. International faculty, including Professor Lee Miller and co-director Dunham, will teach their courses remotely. Chinese professors and students will use a combination of in-class and online instruction. Two international GBJ students are joining Chinese students from the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication on campus.
During the orientation, students learned that GBJ aims to equip its students with better professional skills at Tsinghua University. Students are encouraged to attend special seminars and journalism events by renowned speakers. GBJ students also engage in extracurricular social and educational activities. Professional opportunities, including coveted mentorships and internships at Bloomberg News, are there for GBJ students.
“What you get out of GBJ depends very much on how much effort you put in,” Professor Dunham said. “Take advantage of this two-year program to build skills and expand your network.”
Bloomberg News and the International Center for Journalists have been key partners in Global Business Journalism, and Bloomberg has donated 10 Bloomberg terminals and built a Bloomberg Research Lab on campus. The prestigious program has brought constructive change to economic and financial journalism in China, the co-director said, as well as international coverage of China’s economy. Numerous GBJ graduates are emerging as business journalism leaders both in Chinese media and international media such as Bloomberg News, the Associated Press, Forbes and BusinessWeek. Despite the uncertainties in the journalism industry, Professor Dunham said GBJ has created a formidable network of alumni who are willing to assist current students.
During the interactive “ice-breaking” orientation session with the students, Professor Dunham and Li Chengzhang shared laughter, small talk and answered questions. Each of the 16 first-year international students introduced themselves to their new classmates. While some students acknowledged they face geographical challenges in online learning because of time differences, Professor Dunham thanked them for their flexibility.
“We cannot wait to meet you all on campus, hopefully by the spring semester,” he said.