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Student of the Month: Shao Zhongya

Shao Zhongya is a PhD student at Wesley House in Cambridge, England, after attending Colgate Rochester Divinity School for theological studies. She had an economic studies and education background, as well as an international educational collaboration and management career in mainland China. Her trajectory in studying theology originated from her experience of engaging with various Christians, churches, and Christian missions.

What is your research about?

My research stems from witnessing the deteriorating conflict between mainland China and America over Covid-19. I endeavor to respond to the tension from a Christian perspective rather than the dominant discussion about vying for geopolitical hegemony. I mainly focus on the formation of Chinese grassroots Christians’ theology and their practice and contribution to the Sino-U.S. international relationship in the twenty-first century. More importantly, I aim to reveal the gap between the Western Christian language and the praxis of Chinese Christians.

What is your experience with PANAAWTM?

In 2018, my supervisor Dr. Jin Young Choi suggested I attend PANAAWTM. Over these years, mentorship and friendship through PANAAWTM have been a vital support system in my journey of pursuing PhD studies. From providing early advice to guiding writing a proposal, step by step, PANAAWTM serves as a cradle to cultivate students to become full-fledged PhD candidates. Academically, Dr. Kwok Pui-lan’s wisdom about Chinese culture has had an enormous impact on my theological reflection and research methods. Now, even though I am in the UK, the friendship and support from members of PANAAWTM remain an influence in my life here. These friendships have helped my academic and personal life in Britain significantly. PANAAWTM is a gift in my life.

As an international student in the UK, what are your challenges?

As an international Chinese student in the theological studies field in the UK, the greatest challenge is witnessing 1) how few people know about China, Chinese Christians, and the church; 2) the deep-seated stereotypes Western scholars and churches have held against China, especially in a world driven by mass media. In addition, the fact that politics has never been so close to people’s daily lives reveals how compartmentalizing research and personal national and cultural identity in academic discourse is quite difficult.

What is your hope for theological studies?

Covid-19 is a disaster for the entire world. However, I hope that before the world finds its new normal, this also can be regarded as an opportunity to re-examine and re-appraise the way we lived and the perspectives and vision we had towards the world. I hope there is more effort in building understanding amid misunderstanding, creating dialogue amid misconception, and developing more wisdom in peacebuilding.

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