By Liu Xu
Having studied at Peking University for two years, two Thai girls known by the Chinese names Bai Yunying and Li Huimin, respectively, have gotten accustomed to life in Beijing. However, they are still very excited by their correspondence with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
On October 13, 2013, Premier Li visited the Chongfahsinseung School in Chiang Mai during his visit to Thailand. He met with the students and interacted with them. It was the first time the two girls met Li.
On their “first impressions” of Li Keqiang, Li Huimin said: “We had thought him a very serious person. We didn’t expect him to smile all the time with us, he was very kind.”
During the meeting, 19-yearold Bai Yunying asked the premier to introduce to them his alma mater, Peking University.
“I learned that the premier graduated from Peking University”, Bai Yunying recalled. “My dream had always been to study in Peking University. Therefore, I made that request. I’m from an ordinary family of Chinese descent in Chiang Mai. To study in Peking University, I have to compete with a very large number of outstanding students around the country. It was hard to imagine how I could possibly make it. Premier Li told me that everyone is equal in examinations, and that there was no way he could get me into Peking University. I have to depend on my own strength. However, he said that my Chinese was quite fluent and encouraged me to work hard. From then on, the premier’s encouragement had given me a firm confidence to study in Peking University with my own ability.”
Before Li’s visit to the school, the two girls had passed the official Chinese language proficiency test (HSK) and the Thailand’s high school graduation exam with flying colors. In November 2013, Peking University started its selection exams in Thailand. Both of the girls were invited to attend the final interview for admission.
According to the director of the overseas students’ department of the Office of International Relations of Peking University, the university selects Thai students at the Confucius Institute at Chulalongkorn University every year. After the initial selection, around 40 students are invited to the final interview.
“In the final interview in January 2014, we admitted 24 of the 40 interviewees, five of whom were directly admitted to our undergraduate school with their proficiency in Chinese. Bai and Li were the most outstanding among the students,” the director said. “Their Chinese proficiency level was impressive. In the final interview, the students were expected to answer open questions by lot-drawing. Their answers impressed the judges present. Eventually, Bai was in the first place, and Li second.”
After entering Peking University, the girls wrote a letter to Premier Li to thank him for his care and to inform him of their life and study in the university.
“We didn’t expect to hear from the premier personally,” Bai said.
In his letter, Premier Li wrote: “I’m very glad to learn from your letter that you have been admitted to Peking University. Peking University is my alma mater. I’d like to welcome you as a PKU alumni…”
The girls have felt the pressure of studying in their dream university.
“Before this, we had written some compositions in Chinese, the longest being ‘My Family’ with 200 words. In the university, we have had to work and take exams as our Chinese peers. We have had to work on 5,000-word academic papers since,” Bai said.
In regards to their future careers, the young women are not yet sure what tomorrow will bring. “We do not have a specific plan for the future yet. In the short run, we will continue to work hard on our academic courses to achieve as much as we can,” they asserted.