Ivy Wang

Ivy Wang

“The big question on people’s minds is the next generation’s feelings towards human rights. Having lived and taught in China for two years, and having gotten to know people my age, gives me a level of insight that I think even Chinese ex-patriots lack. Working alongside young people will probably become more and more valuable.”

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English Teaching Fellow, Lingnan (University) College, '06-08

Nowadays, China is rarely mentioned without talk of the country’s unprecedented economic transformation. Amongst the chatter, it is refreshing to find a perspective from somebody like Ivy Wang, whose day-to-day engagement in the country affords her fresh insight.

Ivy was a Yale-China Teaching Fellow at Lingnan (University) College at Sun Yat-sen University from 2006 to 2008. Since then, she has been working for a human rights organization that collaborates with multilateral institutions to guarantee that human rights agreements and laws are being implemented. In her current work, she has a lot of interaction with people who are involved in Chinese human rights.

Amongst that group, Ivy says, “the big question on people’s minds is the next generation’s feelings towards human rights. Having lived and taught in China for two years, and having gotten to know people my age, gives me a level of insight that I think even Chinese ex-patriots lack. Working alongside young people will probably become more and more valuable.”

Ivy’s drive to become involved with Chinese civil society after college made the Yale-China Fellowship her top choice, her enthusiasm stemming from how “[Yale-China] really emphasizes a responsible relationship with the place where people are sent.”

While teaching at Lingnan (University) College, Ivy sought out an unpaid internship at the Guangzhou office of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), the organization’s first office to do outreach work in China. Student response was overwhelming. Ivy states how “when word got out that I worked with MSF, I received emails from students on a weekly basis asking how they could get involved with MSF and NGO work more generally. In every major event and research project that MSF pursued, Lingnan students made up the biggest portion of volunteers.”

The MSF experience was eye-opening. “Through the things I did in the organization, I was introduced to a huge number of incredibly interesting people like activists, journalists, citizen journalists and bloggers,” Ivy says. “2008 has been a huge year for China. I feel like I really got to hear Chinese people—the people who were making the news in some instances—respond to events in a very immediate, uncensored way. And I definitely got to know my students in a different way [through volunteering with them] than if I had only interacted with them in the classroom.”

As China transforms, Ivy believes the Yale-China Fellowship will be challenged to similarly evolve. When a former Yale-China Fellow from 2003 passed through Guangzhou, she described a city almost unimaginable to Ivy. The Fellows are changing too. “Today’s students come with a level of involvement with the outside world that did not exist before.” Whatever changes may come, Ivy stresses that the teaching component is core to the fellowship: “[The Program] has given me an opportunity to develop a relationship with China that would have been impossible otherwise.”

Ivy sees graduate school on the horizon and a life-long focus on political issues affecting people throughout Asia. Asked if she would like to be involved with Yale-China in the future, Ivy says, “I would love to.”

--By Mattias Daly, Staff Intern


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