2016 Yenching Scholars
 Rebecca Arcesati

Rebecca Arcesati

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Rebecca Arcesati, from Italy, graduated with a degree in Language Mediation and Intercultural Communication from Milan State University, focusing her undergraduate studies on Chinese language and culture. Following her research interests in Chinese politics and international relations, especially in Central Asia, she completed a Master’s degree in International Science, China and Global Studies at the University of Turin.  She spent half a year in China to improve her language skills at Beijing Language and Culture University and Liaoning Normal University. As a language mediator in Italy, she has been active in helping Chinese citizens integrate into the local community. Last year she interned at the Asia Pacific Financial Council, a financial organization based in Shanghai. Besides foreign policy and political philosophy, she is passionate about journalism; on the blog Spazio Economia she manages the China Analysis column, where she publishes articles and interviews about Chinese economic and social transformations, published also in major Italian newspapers. At the Yenching Academy she has chosen the Politics and International Relations concentration; her aim is to improve her understanding of China’s role in international affairs, its vision and the philosophy that inspires its diplomacy and foreign policy today. With this global perspective, domestic reforms and social changes, as well as the re-emergence of Confucian ethics, will also be part of her research.

Diliaram Azizbaeva

Diliaram Azizbaeva

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Diliaram Azizbaeva graduated from Middle East Technical University, where she studied psychology. She is fluent in Russian, Kyrgyz, English, Turkish, and currently on her way to mastering Chinese. During her undergraduate years, she has always been interested in understanding the rationale behind social inequalities. Several internships and volunteer works with minority groups have confirmed her intent to continue working within this field. At the Yenching Academy, Diliaram plans to educate herself further on these issues in the context of China with its broader conceptualization of diversity in social inequalities, after which she plans to begin a career as a social activist against discrimination and inequalities by implementing policy-making programs in society. 

Mohammed Badr

Mohammed Badr

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A French-Tunisian citizen born and raised in Paris, Mohammed-El-Fatah Badr graduated from Sciences Po Paris in International Security. He interned in various places from Doha to New York in different fields including transatlantic cooperation and peacekeeping in West Africa. He also spent an exchange year in Indonesia at Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta. His research interests include China’s foreign policy towards the Middle East. Mohammed harbors the secret dream of becoming an expert in Chinese cinema.

Jullian Bao

Jullian Bao

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Jullian Bao is originally from Edison, New Jersey. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in Statistics. Last summer, Jullian received a Fulbright Summer Institute Fellowship to study British literature at King’s College London. In Chicago, Jullian was actively engaged in her school’s Model UN organization and served as the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Councils. She also edited a Model UN publication for the Middle East circuit. At the Yenching Academy, Jullian will study Public Policy and International Relations. She hopes to gain a more nuanced understanding of China’s diplomatic relations and economic growth.


Thiago Pinagel Bessimo Barcellos

Thiago Pinagel Bessimo Barcellos

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Thiago Pinagel Barcellos Bessimo studied Social Sciences at the Federal Fluminense University in Rio de Janeiro, and recently received his International Relations degree from the La Salle University of Rio de Janeiro, in Niterói. During his undergraduate studies, he undertook an exchange program at De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines, and before that, worked as research assistant for a major Brazilian Think-Tank, CEBRI, Brazilian Center for International Relations. As a Yenching Scholar, he is pursuing the Politics and International Relations concentration, as his main interests are understanding China’s relationship with its historical struggles and how it influences today’s politics and international relations in East Asia, especially regarding territorial disputes with its neighbors and conflicting interests in the region.

Sasha Benincasa

Sasha Benincasa

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Sasha is a Columbia University graduate who hails from Vero Beach, Florida. During his final year of high school, he participated in a year-long immersion and homestay experience program in Beijing, China, where he attended Beijing No. 2 High School through the School Year Abroad (SYA) program. Upon returning, Sasha chose to pursue a double major in East Asian Studies and Russian Language and Culture. At Columbia University Sasha was active with the Undergraduate Law Review, Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, and Men’s Rugby team. In fall of his senior year of college he was selected to work in Moscow, Russia, for the U.S. Department of State. Sasha has also interned at law firms in South America and Florida and is concentrating in Law and Society while at Yenching Academy. He speaks English, Spanish, Russian, and Mandarin Chinese.

Olivia Bergen

Olivia Bergen

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Originally from the United States, Olivia Bergen graduated from NYU Abu Dhabi in 2015 with a major in political science and a minor in East Asian studies. As an undergraduate, she spent a semester and winter term in Shanghai studying Chinese language, politics, and education and wrote a senior thesis on gender and campaign finance in U.S. elections. She also taught and carried out research at NYU Shanghai on a year-long Global Academic Fellowship. As a Yenching Scholar, is concentrating in Politics and International Relations, where she is focusing on women’s political participation and leadership in China. She aspires to a career in NGOs and IGOs that engage citizens in the political process worldwide.

Jesse Bowens

Jesse Bowens

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Jesse Bowens graduated from the University of California, Berkeley – Haas School of Business in 2016. She transferred to Berkeley Haas as a junior from Las Positas College, where she was the 2014 Student of the Year. As a Business Administration major, she chose to focus her studies in the area of accounting, with aspirations to become a Certified Public Accountant. She was selected as an Emerging Accounting Scholar and will work full-time for Deloitte & Touche LLP upon completion of her studies. She entered the Yenching Academy to pursue a Master’s Degree in China Studies with a concentration in Economics and Management. She is fascinated by the interrelated roles of businesses that comprise an economy and the impact on society from economic regulations. She is particularly interested in learning about business operations within China, as it is an economic giant that also places a societal emphasis on community. Having worked as a Scholarships Coordinator for the Berkeley Student Foundation and Cohort Leader for the Haas Cohort Program, Jesse is a community leader who seeks to find an ideal balance between individualism and team-based efforts.


Andrew Boyce

Andrew Boyce

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Andrew is an athlete, lawyer, entrepreneur and aspiring policy-maker. He studied politics at the University of California, Berkeley where he was a member of the Division 1 Varsity Water Polo Team.  He also studied law at Cambridge University, where he was awarded a "Blue" - one of the University's most prestigious sporting awards. He was born in New Zealand and grew up in Hong Kong, where he attended the Chinese International School.  Andrew has represented Hong Kong as a swimmer and water polo player, and has played in the Chinese National Games.  He currently lives in London where he is training as a lawyer.  He has previously worked at the World Bank, and co-founded a startup that focuses on using technology to support legal aid and access to justice issues in Southeast Asia.  Andrew hopes to conduct research on Chinese law and society, in particular, by examining the impact of law and policy on development outcomes.

Sudarshana Chanda

Sudarshana Chanda

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Sudarshana Chanda graduated with a BA in History from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University. She was awarded the Amba Dalmia Prize for Creative Talent and Commitment to College, the Faculty Prize for All Round Excellence and a Certificate of Academic Excellence from the Department of History. She was selected to join the Young India Fellowship Programme and subsequently the Ashoka Research and Teaching Fellowship. She has worked as a teaching assistant to celebrated scholars such as Rudrangshu Mukherjee and Nayanjot Lahiri. Music is her first love and though she holds a diploma in Rabindrasangeet and Indian Classical Music, she has a two-year-old performance career as a jazz singer in New Delhi. Her interests and work experience range from art and film-making to writing and music. Her connection with China dates back to memorable excursions during childhood to Tiretti Bazaar, the old Chinatown in Calcutta, her hometown. At Yenching Academy she is studying Literature and Culture and hopes to research Children’s Literature in China, New Wave Cinema, and Chinese music, and to establish channels of cultural exchange between China and India.