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"The Shanghai Summer School at Fudan University will always remain as one of my best academic and cultural experience"

Samrat Sil, a second-year student of MA Program in Applied and Interdisciplinary History, participated in a Summer School for students and young researchers from BRICS countries which took place at Fudan University, China, on July 6 – August 3, 2016.

Samrat who had been awarded a Shanghai Summer School Scholarship showed himself at the Summer School as one of the most active student. Following his recent trip, he shared his impressions from the educational tour to "the Great Athens of China":

"Vacations are usually tales of adventures and new experiences. For me this summer was extremely eventful as I was fortunate enough to be a part of an amazing summer school hosted by Fudan University in Shanghai, China. I was one of twenty students who secured a scholarship position amongst all other applicants from the four nations (BRICS). From my university two of my peers from management department joined the group.

China is a land of traditions and a mystical place which have attracted the world for many centuries. However once you step in Shanghai you can experience the true international appeal of China. Huge skyscrapers adorn the horizon and infrastructure is at its peak. Fudan University is one of the oldest and well known university in China as well as globally. The summer school primarily focused on the institutions of BRICS and its achievements. It also tried to highlight the similar situations and problems faced by the BRICS emerging economies in recent times. This whole learning process was extremely interesting for me as I had expertise in history and got to interact with some of the best brains in political science, international relations, business, law and economics. Within and outside the classroom we would often engage in meaningful discussions about existing situations in our own countries. The opening ceremony was graced by the presence of respective Consul Generals of each country during the event. They welcomed us with warm smiles. I would like to mention that I had the privilege of interacting with the deputy consul general of Russia in Shanghai who not only gave us a tour of the city but also took us out for an authentic Chinese lunch.

The course was divided into a series of lectures and activities. While lectures illustrated the theoretical approach of the bricks nations, it was the discussion that were held after the lectures which promoted the practical understands of BRICS development and cooperation. We had the unique opportunity to visit the 1st year anniversary celebration of the New Developmental Bank and also visit their headquarters in Shanghai. The Vice President of the bank was extremely kind and polite to us in addressing and answering our questions regarding the bank and BRICS in general. Such opportunities are extremely rare and valuable for young scholars to understand the global happenings. We were closely interacting with finance ministers and foreign ministers of different countries. Along with academics, the summer school also focused on the cultural aspect. In our activities we had regular tours such as visit to power art museum, Huangpu river tour and trip to Suzhou. Such cultural expeditions enabled me to understand Shanghai and Chinese culture from a very close range. The interaction with natives and their socio cultural habits really helped me understand the contrast between European and Asian cultural. The several interesting museums in Shanghai is a treat for any historian interested in understanding Chinese and global history.

One of the most important aspect of this summer school was the BRICS model summit. It served as a pivotal part of the whole process of learning. We had to act as leaders and ministers of various countries and enact the happenings of an actual BRICS summit. I served as the foreign minister of India and along with my colleagues I had to draft a document or declaration. This declaration had to be signed by the leaders of all the other nations. The same paper would later be presented to the respective counsel generals for their perusal and consideration.

One can easily understand the importance and responsibility attached with this summit and declaration. While preparing for this summit I gained valuable experience as to how decision are debated within the bureaucratic level of the government and how top officials work. I learned about public diplomacy and employed the same during our meeting and debates. The debates were also essential as a learning experience. Finally the summit was a huge success and we all accomplished our task. Also to mention that at the end of the summer school we had a written exam and I scored the second highest grade in the whole class.

The Shanghai Summer School at Fudan University will always remain as one of my best academic and cultural experience in China. Special mention must be made about Miss.Hou, Miss Huanhuan and other assistants who took care of all our needs and made the experience a memorable one. The summer school gave me a lot of international friends with whom I shared some wonderful memories and exchanges. With a promise to meet again and tears in our eyes we bid farewell carrying fond memories with us. I am grateful to HSE and Fudan for allowing me to be a part of such an amazing summer adventure".

The Shanghai Summer School (BRICS Program) 2016 by Fudan University aimed to provide students and young researchers from BRICS countries an opportunity to better understand BRICS, China, Shanghai and Fudan University. The Program provided the participants with around 95 hours of lectures as well as other educational activities. In 2016, 50 students were enrolled in the program, 20 of which were scholarship students sponsored by the BRICS Program, and the rest were self-financing students.