Testimonial: Laurent de Serres Berard from Canada

Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program Awardee (2017-2018)

Fudan University (Chinese Language Studies)

Laurent de Serres Berard

I long had the objective to gain more skills to pursue a career in international affairs. I wanted to gain additional knowledge about China and Asia in general, but I needed time to dedicate myself to learning Mandarin. Learning a second or third language is a real asset to push your career forward, to connect with more people from those areas, and it goes without saying that experience at the international level is incredibly precious.

The Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program gave me not only the opportunity to dedicate myself full-time to learning Mandarin, but also to have an immersive stay in China. With the scholarship, I entered Fudan University in 2018, and stayed in Shanghai, China for 6 months. My previous travel to China never gave me such an opportunity to immerse myself in a Chinese language, nor such good teachers that taught a diversity of classes: oral speaking Mandarin, reading, writing, listening and grammar. Outside the classroom were opportunities to join students in different clubs that varied from sports to cultural clubs.

I made many connections and great friendships among Chinese and international students from around the globe. I attended numerous scholars’ activities on the world economy, trade, and politics, but surprisingly, my best connections came while playing Frisbee with Chinese students from a diversity of backgrounds and from different provinces of China. Through them, I learned a lot about the current China and where it is heading with the vision of the younger generation, and the challenges to come. I also had the opportunity to see Chinese cities and provinces: The historical Henan, the innovation hub of Shenzhen, the political city of Beijing, the “new silk road” city of Chongqing… The feeling of being present and witnessing how relationships around Asia are taking shape was incredible.

It was a holistic experience, and the realization of the experience and knowledge I gained only grows each time I look back on it. This is a unique opportunity that needs to be grasped, that shapes your future, and can give you experiences that will inspire you for many years.

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