Jian Fang Yang, postgraduate student studying Global Development and Education.

Jian Fang Yang

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I am from the South-East part of China and I did my bachelors degree in China as well, during which I went to Thailand for my internship as a Chinese teacher.

After graduating I worked as a Chinese teacher for the Confucius Institute in Cambodia (similar to the British Council), which took me on a three-year process of learning and developing my craft as a teacher.

During my first two years I chose to work in a small village where I had experienced the real Cambodian local life. I worked in Phnom Penh in the last year and got to know how different the life in the Cambodian capital dramatically contrasted with that of the Cambodian village life. Generally speaking, my experience in Cambodia changed my life decision and made me have the desire of wanting to see more and do something different in my life.

What motivated you to apply for your course at Leeds? 

I found the Global Development courses in the University of Leeds have many pathways that I like, for example the Gender pathway and Education one caught my eye, but finally I chose the Education pathway in Global Development as it relates with my work experience and my interest toward doing something for the educational benefit of developing countries.

I really like that the school provides different pathways for Global Development foci, which helps students to focus on the field that they really like.

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

Basically, my past experience in Cambodia provided me with a new future vision whereby I decided that I wanted to work for a non-governmental organisation in the future. Furthermore, I would like to specially focus on the educational branch of global development, as I had seen many poor children either go to a poor-quality school or not get the opportunities to access good schools with access to open-minded education. 

Children are the future of the family unit in developing countries and the future prosperity of the nation, so they need strong educational foundations to ensure the deprivation of the past and present does not persist further into the future. That is why I chose to do Global Development and Education and I believe my global development studies can at least help better inform and equip me with skills to then go and help a small group of young, uneducated people struggling in the most deprived parts of the world.

What do you think of your course so far?

The global development course in the University of Leeds is the best course I have studied so far, from which I have learned many things about the world that I could have never experienced in China.

Currently my favourite element is Conflict and Insurgency in South East Asia, which greatly broadened my view about conflicts in South East Asia and how their legacies generate developmental issues. Now I have gained a deeper understanding of the Southeast Asian political situation, alongside the guidance of the professional and leading researcher. I am looking forward to learning more about Education in Development in the next semester.

What do you think of the facilities?

The university is fully equipped with many different kinds of modern technological learning facilities that provide all you need for your study.

I was impressed by the academic libraries on campus, where you can find many good books that you need, and they also have many books in different languages. The diversity of the books and warm, comfortable study zones offer students a great study environment. Almost every room in the library has computers and you do not need to carry your heavy laptop everywhere, as we have electronic access in all of the libraries.

For each library they have a café on the ground floor to provide you with a nice place to chill or have some hot coffee or some food and so you never need to go too far to refuel and revitalise before pressing on with your research and readings.

How would you describe the guidance you've received?

The School provides many different kinds of support to us. The student support office gave us a lecture about how we could find different types of support in and around the University. This was especially useful when we needed more help in the first weeks of the university experience.

Each student also has a personal tutor to whom you can talk to about your difficulties, whether in study or in life. A personal tutor gives you some good advice and guidance to adapt to a brand-new university life.

I had a great experience by going to the student office and asking help with arranging and planning my module selections. The office staff were very nice and patient to provide their help and I was impressed with their decorum.

Have you been involved in any extra-curricular activities?

The Student Union at the University of Leeds has many of different clubs and societies which covers every type of student hobby imaginable – they even have a Quidditch team. 

I would say the societies and clubs on campus are really amazing and provide you with a great chance to meet other students from different countries, because the University is so international and diverse.

I tried salsa dance in the salsa society and enjoyed it and I joined the Friends of Irise Leeds group and discussed the human rights issues period in Uganda, and the society shared some delicious Ugandan food with us and so I got to know some nice British students outside of the school.

Tell us about your work experience.

Through the University charity organization fair I found my first volunteer job in the UK to help new refugees and migrants in Leeds to integrate with British society, which takes place outside of the university and helps me to develop my skills and gifts me valuable non-governmental organisation experience to further my career.

What do you think about Leeds as a city?

Leeds is a great city which is full of many nice shops and I had many great shopping experiences. People outside of the University are nice; you can overhear many different kinds of beautiful English accents and meet some great people outside of the university.

I had nice dialogues with people, which helped me feel confident that I could get to know the city and even the country better through these brief conversations with such open strangers.

Leeds also has many beautiful parks, beautiful churches, great museums and tourist places and I particularly like Kirkstall Abbey and the Royal Armouries Museum.

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

If you want to study Global Development, the University of Leeds will be your perfect place to study as you can really specialise and choose which direction you want to take, while also understanding other people’s perspectives, who perhaps favour the importance of gender for example.

I have learned a lot of interesting stuff and the School always makes sure you enjoy what you are studying here, through stimulating seminars and putting on additional public lectures where you will meet many knowledgeable and friendly professors.

What are your plans for the future?

I would like to work for an NGO after graduating, specifically focusing on education. It would be great if I get the overseas work opportunities again in developing countries. I think it is likely I will need to go to London first to enter the field and get the professional support to start my career in Global Development, since this kind of job is relatively new and rare in China.