BYU: BYU China Conference and McKay Centennial Celebration Aim for Continued Growth | News, Sports, Jobs


Courtesy of Bradley Slade

Peter Chan explains David O. McKay’s visit to China in 1921. This visit laid the foundation for many future interactions between BYU and the McKay School with China.

Yuánfen, 缘分, is a powerful concept in China. More active than karma, it encompasses the power of life’s many interwoven opportunities to bring people together and create natural bonds between friends.

The fruits of yuánfen were evident at two Brigham Young University events held over the same weekend: the annual China Lecture, sponsored by the McKay School of Education, and the centennial celebration of the visit of David O. McKay in China.

During the centennial celebration on February 11, Peter Chan, Chairman of the BYU China Conference Advisory Board, described the McKay School’s work in China: a relationship with Peking Normal University, learning materials online for Chinese teacher training, teaching McKay school students in China. Guangzhou and more.

“What we have done is a continuation of a long history of interactions with China dating back to David O. McKay’s visit a hundred years ago,” Chan said.

Decades before McKay’s visit in the 1850s, four missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spent time in China, and in 1910 missionaries Alma Taylor and Fred Caine made a visit there. 49 day visit. Taylor’s China report may have influenced the decision to send McKay, an educator and church apostle, and Hugh J. Cannon on a year-long trip around the Pacific Rim.

The Chinese leg of the trip included a visit to Peking Normal University, then called Peking Normal College. It was the only Chinese college that Cannon and McKay visited and the one that “awoke” the missionaries, Cannon wrote.

On January 9, 1921, McKay and Cannon bowed their heads in a grove of cypress trees near the Wumen Gate of Beijing’s Forbidden City to pray for God’s mercy for China so that “the spread of pestilence, famine and finally death no longer befalls”. through the earth.

McKay’s grandson John McKay said the blessing came at a time when many were suffering “the devastating effects of famine, the lingering aftermath of World War I and other difficult conditions”.

John McKay, who affectionately called his grandfather “Papa Dade,” said the McKay School’s relationship with Chinese educators is a harvest of David O. McKay’s efforts: “Papa Dade would be delighted to see this gathering, there, as we build relationships. of respect, of friendship, of understanding and ultimately of love.

Ties with China grew stronger in the decades following McKay’s visit. Helen Foster Snow, a journalist and Utah native, reported on China in the 1930s and sought relief for oppressed Chinese workers. After his death, Snow’s family donated his photographs, documents, and writings to BYU.

President Changyun Kang of Beijing Normal University noted that in 1979, BYU was the first American university to send a performance group, the Young Ambassadors, to China after the resumption of diplomatic relations with the United States.

“Time flies by, a hundred years of ups and downs, adversities and adventures, have passed like an arrow,” Kang said. “The friendship between the Chinese and American peoples has stood the test of time.”

BYU political science professor Eric Hyer said he enjoys taking students to the very spot where David O. McKay said their prayers in 1921, a difficult time in China.

“I’m sure the place seemed quite hopeless to them,” Hyer said. “But in their perfect vision, they saw a better future for China.”

Jeff Ringer, associate international vice president of BYU, described the university’s broader interests in China, study abroad programs and performing arts tours to the China Teachers program, which sends about 75 people per year to teach at 18 Chinese universities. These efforts, Ringer said, open doors for faculty and students to pursue projects in China.

This continued goodwill, despite the complex relationship between the United States and China, means that “last year was actually a busy year for BYU’s business in China,” Chan said at the BYU China conference. 2022, which was held on February 12.

An exhibit on the 90th anniversary of Snow’s arrival in China, featuring materials from the BYU library, toured China. BYU offers a course analyzing US-China relations through Snow’s life and work, and the McKay School participated in the China Education Innovation Expo.

“This conference fulfilled its original purposes” as a student leadership event, Chan said, “but it also achieved something unique: it provided a platform for BYU affiliates interested in China to get to know each other and to dialogue with another.”



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