Interview with Professor Wei SHEN,
Associate Dean for China & Jean Monnet Chair Professor, ESSCA School of Management, France
Q. Congratulations to your election as President of the ASEF University Alumni Network (ASEFUAN) at the recent Annual General Meeting on 9 July 2014 in Hangzhou, China. Tell us about the Alumni Network, its origin and objectives.
ASEFUAN was founded in Bali in April 2002 by the graduates of the ASEF University programme, organised by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF). ASEFUAN became an international non-profit organisation (Association Internationale sans but lucratif, AISBL) under Belgian law on 6 August 2009.
Bringing together some of the most outstanding students from Asia and Europe, this alumni network is a way to sustain friendship and contacts after the 2-week summer university. Also through the network we create opportunities for other young people from ASEM countries to benefit from the alumni experiences by setting up initiatives in partnership with ASEF and other organisations.
Q. How does ASEFUAN support ASEF and, hence ASEM, in promoting Asia-Europe relations?
We are very proud to be the only living and active alumni network of ASEF and the ASEM process. We support ASEF and ASEM by strengthening cross-cultural ties and fostering Asia–Europe relations at grass roots level. Our initiatives include the Annual Academic Conference and General Meeting, the Model ASEM, Cultural Capsule, ASEFUAN Dialogues and Local Chapter Meetings. These projects complement the work of ASEF and other ASEM stakeholders by directly engaging the youth of Asia and Europe.
Q. Since 2013, you have been heading the network as President. What motivates and how does ASEFUAN inspire you?
I participated in the 8th ASEF University (AU) organised by ASEF and Warwick University in 2003 in Coventry, UK. It was an eye-opening experience for me. The intercultural setting made it stand alone from any other academic event I participated before. I was elected representative of our AU batch for the advisory panel of ASEFUAN.
Since then, I played an active part in our network and was elected 3 terms as President and once as Vice-President. The diverse membership range allows me to meet new and old friends, from ministers to NGO activists. Everyone works for ASEFUAN on a voluntary basis, and I take great pleasure in working with those who are strongly committed to our network. Over the years, I have seen this friendship growing stronger and hope it will continue to be more meaningful.