Fung Scholars Network Newsletter June 2023

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[01 Foundation Updates] Welcome Gathering for Hong Kong Fung Scholars Christmas Gathering X Nonviolent Communication Workshop Fung Scholars Singapore Chapter — Welcome & Get-together Gathering Fung Scholars Hong Kong Chapter — Reunion Gathering After Three Years Isolation Fung Scholars Hong Kong Chapter— Sha Tak Kok Three Hakka Villages Guided Tour [02 Community Updates] Embracing Cultural Differences in Birmingham, the UK Go into Battery Technology— From Northeastern to Milan Huazhong Remote Internship Feeling Home in Hong Kong Purchase Intentions of Aesthetic Goods from the Perspective of Perceived Quality and Durability Internship Experience at the CLeAR Lab Exchange in the Netherlands - Expanding My Worldview Agriculture Adventure in Philippines What are the keys to supporting the development of agriculture? Cultural Discovery in Taiwan [03 Acknowledgement Writer’s bio] Content 03 04 05 07 08 09 10 11 12 14 15 16 17 18 19 22 23 24

Welcome gathering for Hong Kong Fung Scholars

A total of three Welcome Gatherings for the new Fung Scholars (Hong Kong Chapter) were successfully held, attracting 110 Fung Scholars participants. Twelve Fung Scholars returned from exchange were invited to share their advice and experience with fellows.

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18 August 2022 – Fung Scholars from The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), The University of Hong Kong (HKU) and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) 30 May — Fung Scholars from Hong Kong Baptist Univer- 6 August 2022 – Fung Scholars from City University of Hong Kong (CityU), The Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK) and Lingnan University (LU) (From the left) Facilitator: Equanimity Fung (FS2011/12, CUHK), Kelvin Cheng (FS2021/22, LU), Ryan Wong (FS2016/17, CityU), Cyrus Koo (FS2014/15, LU), Vicky Chan (FS2021/22, LU) (From the left) Dragon Koon (FS2021/22, CUHK), Ivan Wong (FS2021/22, CUHK), Cynthia Yuen (FS2021/22, CUHK) (From the left) Facilitator: Clare Chin (FS2019/20, HKBU), Mickey Yau (FS2019/20 HKUST), Vincent Leong (FS2019/20, HKBU) and Ken Lui (FS2021/22, HKBU)

Christmas Gathering X Nonviolent Communication Workshop

A Christmas gathering was held for Fung Scholars (Hong Kong Chapter) on 10 December 2022 at LiFung Tower. It has been some time since Fung Scholars last met in-person.

With great support from several Fung Scholars, the party venue was decorated with Christmas baubles and LED light strings, creating a cosy and Christmassy ambience. Special mocktails and snacks were prepared and special headbands in different styles (e.g., reindeer, elf hat) for everyone. These would not be possible without the love and creativity of contributing Fung Scholars.

A workshop on non-violent communication was held as part of the gathering. The workshop was hosted by Noel Lam, founder of Third Sector Connect Ltd., a non-profit promoting awareness and skills of “non-violent communication”. The speaker shared the four key components for effective management of interpersonal conflicts. They are Observation (observation of happenings without judgement), Feelings (acknowledging your emotions—positive, neutral,

or negative—during the incident), Needs (identifying what you are seeking based on your feelings), and Requests (telling others your needs to feel better). To put theories into practice, Noel introduced an educational board game called “No Fault Zone”, in which players are to share interpersonal conflicts they encountered and provide feedback on how to better manage so.

After the game, we all felt strongly about realising the needs and negative emotions which we had unconsciously neglected, as well as the importance of proper communication which we had overlooked. Learning to observe without prejudice and expressing our feelings, needs and requests when we are affected by negative emotions is challenging. Still, it is always worth trying. Effective emotional regulation is a lifelong learning task.

Following this fruitful workshop was the most exciting part of the gathering— Christmas gifts exchange! Each of us prepared a gift and played games to figure out the recipient of the gift. The gathering

was successful and fun. We are grateful to JennyAnn and Tracy, for coordinating the event, and Noel for delivering an inspiring workshop! Nonviolent communication is truly a life-changer for everyone, so do learn about it! Wishing you all a Happy New Year and Chinese New Year!

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The gathering in June 2022 was the first physical Fung Scholars event based in Singapore since the pandemic, bringing current and new Fung Scholars together to learn about each other’s exchange experience. Unlike previous typical pre-departure gatherings, this event happened after Fung Scholars’ return from their exchange programme. It was also the first time that the event was joined by incoming students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who came to Singapore for a research attachment programme.

At the meeting, Fung Scholars discussed and shared the vastly different pandemic management between home country and programme countries. The MIT students shared their immersive experience in Singapore, e.g., visiting attraction spots featured in films, trying out transports to get around Singapore, etc. The MIT students were inspired to initiate organising similar social events for Fung Scholars in other countries they visit. Participants also got to learn about each other better via an exhilarating quiz. The gathering was very fruitful and the Singapore Chapter anticipates having more events (online / virtual) under the new normal.

Fung Scholars Singapore Chapter

Welcome & Get-together Gathering

Current and new Fung Scholars sharing their exchange experiences JAMIE KO (FS2009/10, SINGAPORE MANAGEMENT UNIVERSITY)

Fung Scholars Hong Kong Chapter — Reunion Gathering After Three Years Isolation

“It really has been a while!”

“I am so happy to see you!”

The 2023 marks the 17th year of bringing people together through the Fung Scholarships. The Fung Scholar Reunion Gathering was successfully held on 16 February 2023 at Explorium, Lai Chi Kok, Hong Kong. Happy faces were seen at this long-awaited gathering after nearly three years of disruptions to events under the COVID.

We were delighted to have the presence of nearly 50 Fung Scholars from a wide range of industries and backgrounds. It was a very special night of networking and reuniting with the familiar buddies and meeting new people, and absolutely a joyful evening filled with lots of fun and laughter. Thank you all for coming and sharing this special moment together.

Fung Scholars enjoying chit-chat after three years isolation Nearly 50 Fung Scholars at the Reunion Dinner
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Fung Scholars capturing the delightful moment

Fung Scholars Hong Kong Chapter — Sha Tak Kok Three Hakka Villages Guided Tour

The Sha Tau Kok Three Hakka Villages Guided Tour, led by Equanimity Fung (FS 2011/12, CUHK), wrapped up on 19 February. The Fung Scholar Three Hakka Villages Tour gave participants a glimpse of how rural villages in Hong Kong like Lai Chi Wo have been revitalised. Participants enjoyed the coastal scenery and had authentic Hakka meals and snacks during the tour.

Equanimity has a deep passion for Chinese literature and poetry. He is a countryside conservation activist who works closely with the Hong Kong Countryside Foundation, from providing tour guides for the public to organic farming. He has recently moved to Lai Chi Wo, Sha Tau Kok to work on the Lai Chi Wo Revitalisation Project.

Fung Scholars taking ferry to Lai Chi Wo, Hong Kong Equanimity Fung (the left, wearing red cap) is leading the tour to Coastal Heritiera
The tour started off on their journey!

Embracing Cultural Differences in Birmingham, the UK

Going on an exchange is a perfect opportunity to challenge oneself. I am honoured to receive a scholarship from the Foundation which gives me the opportunity to explore the U.K. and study at the University of Birmingham. I enjoyed learning sociology and criminology (e.g., feminism, race, class, criminal injustice, cybercrime) in the British context. The discussions in class encouraged me to think from different perspectives and embrace cultural differences.

I treasure the friendships I made and the encounters I had during the exchange. Homesickness is inevitable but learning how to cope with it is the key to enjoying the exchange life fully. I am grateful to my roommates and classmates for arranging social gatherings and giving moral support, especially during times I felt homesick and lonely. Visiting the world-class museums (e.g., The British Museum and the National Gallery), watching musicals and having small talks with strangers in the UK are some of the new experiences that spiced up my exchange.

A memorable moment along the journey is my participation as a helper in the Commonwealth Games 2022 held in Birmingham. The Commonwealth Games is an international sports event bringing together athletes from 72 countries competing in 20 sports. Watching the gymnasts who continued to complete the whole performance despite misses and mistakes, I was reminded of the importance of being persistent amidst obstacles.

During the exchange, I lingered around museums and galleries in different countries and observed nuances of museum management between the U.K., Paris and Amsterdam. For the display of art pieces, the British Museum tends to organise art pieces by their origins and provide a general overview of the connotation.

Museums in Paris organise art pieces around the world by periods (e.g., 1900–1949) and provide less information about the artwork. Artworks in Amsterdam are mainly based on sceneries and politics and their expression has a sense of humour. . I found joy exploring these cultural differences along my exchange.

Most importantly, this journey has taught me to slow down and be more observant. Hong Kong is a hectic and crowded city where people are efficiency-oriented and have little time to slow down and pay attention to their surroundings. I started to learn to live life at a slower pace after arriving in Birmingham. I walked slower, ate slower, and spent time sitting by the bench to enjoy the sun. I often walked around the lake near my accommodation to clear my mind. The exchange has given me the head space for self-reflection and greater clarity in life.

All in all, this exchange has brought me precious memories and personal growth. At first, I had doubts about living independently. During these few months, I have learnt to believe in myself and to ask for help. I have achieved things I never thought possible— travelling alone from Hong Kong to Birmingham with 40kg luggage, living with new people, completing house chores independently, exploring other countries alone and many more. These experiences have made me more confident and mature and have formed a fruitful and surreal chapter in my life.

Sabrina (the right) and her friend


Being a researcher in the energy sector is truly fascinating. Recent years have witnessed enormous technological progress in the development of renewable energy to address the climate crisis. This has brought new opportunities to emerging technologies for the betterment of mankind.

The future of clean energy and electric vehicles depends on our ability to store and release energy efficiently and at a reasonable cost. During the past five years, I had the opportunity to work in the field of battery technology. One company I worked for, Form Energy, is commercialising a long-duration battery for the grid, meaning it provides energy for extended time periods at a reasonable cost. The chemistry of the battery is iron-air. It turns iron to rust during discharge and then rust to iron on charge. This experience inspired my decision to pursue further studies at Columbia’s Electrochemical Energy Center.

Last year, thanks to the support from the Foundation, I moved to Milan and had the opportunity to work with Professor Marcel Di Vece at the University of Milan for a project on energy storage for five months. Hydrogen fuel is a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels and a vital tool for decarbonization. A limiting factor for enabling hydrogen as a fuel is that it exists as an explosive gas at room temperature. As a result, it is extremely difficult and expensive to store and transport. Although batteries are the dominant fuels used in the electric vehicle industry, hydrogen still plays a crucial role in decarbonisation in industries such as steel production. Low-cost materials that can store hydrogen densely and safely are critical to building a global hydrogen economy.

Magnesium is a desirable host material as the lightest weight metal with a high affinity for storing hydrogen. The difficulty with using magnesium is the high heat (300 degrees Celsius) required to release the hydrogen after storage. Plus, magnesium readily oxidises when exposed to air, hindering its storage capabilities. When we began the project, we hoped to prove that we could protect magnesium particles from oxidation and hydrogenate them. We succeeded on that front with an unexpected and exciting result: light-induced hydrogen release at room temperature. Magnesium hydrogen storage and release at room temperature would be a game-changer for hydrogen fuels.

Palladium is a metal commonly used for its catalytic properties; it can spontaneously separate molecular hydrogen into protons and transport them by diffusion through the metal. Silicon nitride is a material that resists oxidation. In our project, we used a large machine known as a “gas aggregation nanocluster source” to spray magnesium and silicon nitride onto a palladium surface. By depositing magnesium nanoparticles on top of palladium and then coating them with silicon nitride, we designed a system that allowed us to shuttle protons through a palladium layer to magnesium particles protected from the ambient air.

The next phase of the research was the material characterisation. We hoped to form a magnesium hydride. To attempt to hydrogenate our deposited samples, I used a small chamber pressurised with gaseous hydrogen. To assess whether we had achieved successful hydrogen insertion, we used a characterization technique called “UV-Vis Spectrophotometry.” The technique involves exposing a material to light at different wavelengths and measuring its transparency. If more light could penetrate the material after hydrogenation, that would suggest the formation of magnesium hydride. In our project, after hydrogenating the samples, we saw an initial increase in transparency that de -

Professor Marcel Di Vece (left) and Christopher Owen (right) standing next to a nanocluster source used to deposit particles on a surface using a process known as magnetron sputtering
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creased the longer the sample was exposed to specific wavelengths of light. Hydrogen was being released from the magnesium! That usually only happens above 300 degrees Celsius; this was at room temperature. If scaled up and used in practice, this technology could bring massive energy savings.

Our work titled “Photo-stimulated hydrogen desorption from magnesium nanoparticles” was published in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy. This is my first-ever publication in a scientific journal and one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I formed lifelong friendships, made incredible memories travelling across Italy, and expanded my knowledge of energy storage materials during the exchange programme. I am tremendously grateful to the Fung Foundation for supporting my experience in Milan.

Lunch with friends at Lake Garda


Wanting to gain greater clarity about my career and specialisation in engineering, I undertook a chemical engineering internship at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST), with support from the Fung Foundation. The six-week internship provides me the opportunity to work online together with researchers from Imperial College London in an international renewable energy project which aims to extract and purify refined fuels from biomass to provide renewable energy resources for biomass pyrolysis plants in Egypt and China.

The project began with an introduction by Professor Hu Song detailing that the project can foster the collaboration between Egypt and China in using the abundant biomass and solar energy in Asia and Africa to create a sustain -

able supply of carbon-neutral energy sources. The time difference between London and Huazhong may add difficulty to the level of collaboration and organisation of online international projects. Fortunately, the postgraduate students were helpful in supporting my part in the project and providing advice on the academic and career opportunities within the field of chemical engineering.

My role in the project was to create an overarching Life Cycle Assessment of the given plant design. The purpose of this is to identify areas in which these processes (e.g., transportation, purifying processes) are sub-optimally designed, and to suggest ways in which efficiencies could be increased, so that the environmental and economic impact associated with these processes can be reduced. The journey provides me with the autonomy and confidence in exploring creative engineering solutions and making research-informed engineering decisions. I am excited to see whether my ideas will be implemented. Overall, my time at HUST was incredible, and I am extremely grateful to the Fung Foundation for making it possible. This internship inspired me to specialise in chemical engineering in my final year of undergraduate study. I look forward to working with HUST in the future on projects that improve the sustainability of modern energy processing methods and contribute to the realisation of carbon neutrality.

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Bartol kept working on his project assessment while travelling



After a long day of study, I returned to my dormitory. I felt happy and at peace, knowing that the next day I could join my friends on a trip to Stanley organised by the Victor and William Fung Foundation. It is not a common feeling for an exchange student who leaves mainland China to study at The University of Hong Kong and lives 1651 kilometres away from home.

shopping street, enjoying the view and chatting. There were couples taking wedding photos, children playing football and tourists eating at the snack bar. I felt the vibe of life. After the epidemic has taken so much from us, we can finally get together with a large group of friends again.

An impressive feature of Hong Kong is its multiculturalism. However, as I immersed myself in the local culture by talking to different people and doing different things along the Stanley trip, I realised that it would be too reductionist to understand “multiculturalism” merely as “cultural differences”.

On the Friday afternoon we departed from Central Station, to Stanley, “we” – friends from the Victor and William Fung Foundation and friends from universities in mainland China, were all chatting excitedly on the coach like a group of school children on a spring trip.

The view in Stanley was healing and there was a district library along the shopping street. I was told that every district in Hong Kong has a library. This gave me one more reason to love Hong Kong: libraries available in tourist and commercial areas.

We walked along the reef coast across the

We walked through Stanley Main Street and arrived at the Murray House, a Victorian building originally built in the present-day business district of Central in 1846. We reached the top of this building and enjoyed the sea view. After that, we went to dinner and had an exotic meal.

The most memorable part during the whole trip was the unexpected rain. There was a sudden heavy rain while we were on our way to the bus station. We huddled under the umbrella waiting for the bus and chatted a lot. We chatted about everything, from our home universities to the plans for the future. The rain was cold, but in such a difficult situation, we felt closer to each other.

The trip organised by the Victor and William Fung Foundation does give me a lot of emotional support. It cured my exhaustion and gave me the energy to tackle the university examinations in the final week. More importantly, it makes me feel at home. Although I was far from my familiar surroundings, I did not feel alone. I met a lot of people with similar backgrounds and made a lot of local friends. I am very grateful to the Fung Foundation.

Chilling with other Fung Scholars in Stanley, Hong Kong Visiting one of the most popular restaurants in Stanley
A group photo of Xuanlin (wearing black hoodie) and other Fung Scholars who go on exchange at HKU in semester one.


People believe that beautiful things function well. Aesthetically pleasing products are characterised by rich colours and patterns that capture the attention of consumers, thus leading to potential purchases.

Perceived quality represents the consumer’s cognitive assessment of the intrinsic core benefits of a product. In simpler terms, a consumer’s judgement of a product’s overall excellence or superiority. There is a significant difference between perceived and actual quality. Many factors such as personal preference, price, brand, etc., influence consumers’ perception of the quality of product. Design aesthetics are external cues that help people assess quality but are not the decisive factor affecting perceived quality portfolio. So, the interplay between aesthetic design and perceived quality is very important for purchase intention.

Simple and minimal design may help improve perceived quality. Steve Jobs’s legacy comes down to simplicity—a quality that stands out in an overly complex world. Apple revolutionised the business sector with its search for simplicity. Apple always projected its products to look clean and simple, thus creating an impression for quality luxury. By contrast, an aesthetic design that incorporates enriched patterns, colors, flashlights, or shapes may elicit some negative emotions leading to perceptions of low quality, childish or cheap materials.

Durability refers to the ability of products to remain serviceable and withstand physical damage over a period of life. Consumers usually buy durable and non-durable goods for different purposes and motivations. As such, the evaluation and reasoning of the perceived quality and purchase intention of these two types of products are also different. Consumers place great emphasis on design (aesthetics) and quality (high) when purchasing durable goods, but spend less time choosing or making habitual purchases when purchasing non-durable goods, since convenience (ease of use), accessibility or functionality are more important criteria.

Consumers may not be motivated to buy aesthetically pleasing, non-durable products. For example, in the case of beautifully designed and expensive disposable plates, consumers know that the beauty of the plate will create a sense of enjoyment, but they are still hesitant to buy it because the enjoyment and beauty of

design will not last long. Moreover, consumers are not always willing to pay high prices for disposable products like paper cups considering the short product lifetime.

Consumers buying non-durable aesthetic products often try to reserve the product for a period. This reduces their consumption rate in the end. For example, consumers buy aesthetically designed soaps or candles less frequently than regular soaps or candles. Therefore, beauty soap/candle loses its competitive advantage in consumption rate and purchase possibility compared with ordinary ones.

It is important to learn about the effect of design on perceived value because suppliers compete for aesthetic designs to appeal to consumers. But this approach may not work well without considering the characteristics of the product and the basic purchasing needs of the customer. Instead of focusing on improving aesthetic design and forgetting its emphasis on perceived quality, marketers should focus on strengthening the match between design and quality perception. A simple and clear design does not necessarily mean low quality, and sometimes a complex and beautiful design does not mean high quality. Marketers should decide on product designs that contribute to high perceived quality based on the product types.

ZHANG YE (FS 2013/14, PEKING UNIVERSITY) Durable and Non-durable Products JUNE/JULY 2023 16

The persistence and dedication of the scientific community continues to inspire me to remain motivated and optimistic as we work together to surpass adversity.


search assistant at the Collaborative Learning and Adaptive Robots (CLeAR) Lab, the National University of Singapore (NUS). My role was to study the intersection of AI and robotics—human-robot interaction (HRI)—and focus on developing a method for moderating users’ trust in robots.

NUS is a wonderfully welcoming campus in which the strong interconnectivity among students, faculty, and staff drives collaborative idea generation and innovation. I collaborated both directly with Professor Harold Soh, Director of CLeAR Lab and a graduate student studying explainable AI in assistive human-robot task settings. We identified the specific aspects of the project that I could contribute based on my interests, capabilities, and timeframe. Having a strong interest in the role of trust in scientific innovation and computing ethics, we decided to pursue trust moderation via prediction confidence. I learned the importance of refining and establishing specific research questions, and the specific tasks involved in

each group’s work that contribute to the overall goals of the project.

Working at the CLeAR Lab is a rewarding experience in Singapore. The Singapore research community has established a strong commitment to appreciating and realising multiculturalism within the laboratory environment—whether it was the students who regularly spoke in a mixture of English and Mandarin, research assistants who were native bilingual speakers of English and other languages such as Tamil, Malay, and Arabic, or lab members who communicated science in English while speaking colloquially in Chinese.

While my time at NUS has ended, I am continuing to work on my internship project remotely. Speaking with Professor Soh and other faculty has allowed me to gain a revised view on my future career, and I am glad to have learned about more possible paths available to forge forward. The persistence and dedication of the scientific community continues to inspire me to remain motivated and optimistic as we work together to surpass adversity.

and in such a setting it can be easy to lose sight of the global community. Being at NUS, I have gained a broader perspective by partaking in a leading research institution’s pursuit of innovative technology and research through a global “looking-glass”. I have become part of a welcoming research community that seeks to pursue greater innovation beyond linguistic and cultural barriers. I have gained exposure to leading research techniques in explainable AI and robotics and acquired an invaluable set of practical, analytical, and interpretive skills. These have reaffirmed my belief in the power of international outreach and collaboration to unite people in realising the power of scientific innovation to make the world a better place. As I continue to improve my ability to relay field- specific ideas and communicate science in both English and Chinese, the internship has inspired me exploring further the possibility of spending part of my future career abroad, perhaps even in Singapore.

Visiting the Asian Civilizations Museum

Exchange in the Netherlands - Expanding My Worldview

I studied at Leiden University as an exchange student in the Netherlands for about 10 months. My curiosity about Dutch culture and the flexible working environments in the Netherlands drove my decision to choose the Netherlands for my exchange study. My experience in the Netherlands has expanded my world view in different ways. It changed my understanding about society and culture. Here, things are very different from Japan. The systems within the society (e.g., education, employment) are closely intertwined with one another. Unlike Japan, the Dutch society is culturally diverse—there are people of different races, nationalities, and speaking in different languages, as well as people who

look like Westerners but are able to speak Japanese.

It brings inspiration to my career path, so I can choose my career more flexibly. In Japan, it is still common for employees to be loyal and serve one company for life. During my exchange, I met several young Dutch working adults who returned to graduate school despite having studied a different

discipline in bachelor study. Their life course is not a single-track, it was like jumping from one track to another depending on their own choices made at each turning point.

Currently, I find staying in Japan and immersing myself in the local culture more preferable. I am about to graduate from a master’s course in gender and education study this spring. However, I will not forget the memories and the experiences I have gained while abroad. I look forward to studying abroad or interacting with people with different backgrounds soon.

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MINAHO TODAKA (FS 2016/17, THE UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO) Japanese Conversation Club at Leiden University A way to Leiden University from my dorm in spring Autumn at UTokyo campus

Agriculture Adventure in Philippines

Why I went to the Philippines

My dream is to help farmers in developing countries through agricultural research. To fulfill this dream, I study crop science in UTokyo. However, as an undergraduate student, I had a doubt whether research conducted in universities is actually useful in real-world situations in developing countries. That is why I decided to go to the University of the Philippines and study agricultural extension, which is to deliver new technologies to farmers.

Great encounters during the exchange

During the exchange, I took courses in agricultural extension, rural sociology and so on. I also conducted a small research project in a nearby village. While it was interesting to learn the basics of community development and extension communication in classrooms, it had more influence over my life to have firsthand experiences in farming communities. Both my courses and my research gave me opportunities to meet and interview some farmers. They were nice to me, and I enjoyed the experience very much, but at the same time, I felt the need to enhance my knowl -

edge about crops and farming systems to communicate more effectively with them. Towards the end of my stay, I also met some researchers who worked in the area. They were passionate about applying science to the actual farm situations for the benefit of farmers. They communicated well with farmers by showing technologies they developed and getting reactions. I found out that this is the type of research I want to do.

Came back and went again

Fortunately, the former leader of the research team I met in the Philippines returned to UTokyo to teach. After I came back to Japan, I decided to work under him for my undergraduate thesis and pursue graduate study. In my first year of my master’s study, I went back to the Philippines for a collaborative research project with the researchers I met before. I conducted experiments in a farmer’s field and interviewed farmers about their practices. It was very exciting. I knew a little better about crops and farming systems than in my first exchange, so my communication with farmers seemed better. I learned a lot from them and made very good friends with them. However, I experienced a new kind of frustration that I could give nothing in return to the farmers. My research was still in the stage of testing an idea for potential technology. It was far from an actual application. I learned that it was going to be a very long journey before I could achieve anything and be of any help to farmers.

NORIKO KANNO (FS 2016/17, THE UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO) My experimental field!
Learning about coconuts seriously
“ They were passionate about applying science to the actual farm situations for the benefit of farmers.”
Taking photo with the farmer who let me use his field (second stay) From a field to another ((my first stay in Philippines)

Came home, covid, and still on the way

The initial plan for my graduate study was to stay in the Philippines as long as possible during my PhD, to gain more experience in working with farmers and to develop new technology for them. However, I was forced to change the plan because of COVID. As an alternative, I conducted experiments in a laboratory in Tokyo. By changing experimental conditions, I aim to develop a technology applicable for various environments. Another big change was that I am now on a leave from the university as I gave birth to a son last year.

I am struggling between motherhood and study, but I will try my very best. Upon returning to the university, I plan to refine the technology and test it under farmers’ field conditions by the end of my PhD. Whether it goes well or not, I hope to continue my research journey as a scientist after graduation. Someday I hope to return a favor to my farmer friends by bringing them new farming technologies.

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What are the keys to supporting the development of agriculture?


Agriculture accounts for a large portion of the economy and employment in many developing countries worldwide. Food security has always been a fundamental for a stable economy. Food not only provides the essential resources for us, but also brings joy to our lives and forms a significant part of our culture.

Since April 2017, I have been working at Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). JICA is an executing agency of Japanese ODA (Official Development Assistance) and has been active in more than 150 countries. Like many international organisations such as Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and other bilateral organisations, one of JICA’s areas of cooperation is agriculture and aquaculture. My first post in JICA was in the agricultural development department, where I was in charge of agricultural technical cooperation projects in South East Asia, especially Myanmar and Timor-Leste. From August 2019, I worked in JICA

Côte d’Ivoire in Abidjan, where I worked on agriculture and aquaculture projects and administrations such as security and accounting of the office. A recent trend in agricultural development is supporting farmers to become “business persons.” Traditionally, technical cooperation in this sector focused on transferring technologies for cultivation, such as selecting good seeds, preparing the land properly, and applying fertiliser effectively. Although these topics are critical in increasing farming productivity, this is only half the story. The other half is figuring out the value chain after production. Who do we sell our products to, and how do we decide the price? More importantly, how do we select the crops to produce? Supporting farmers to pose and answer these questions themselves is one of the keys to enhancing their motivation.

To address this aspect of “business” in the agricultural sector, JICA has introduced an approach called SHEP, which stands for Smallholder Horticul -

ture Empowerment & Promotion. The fundamental concept of the SHEP approach is to support farmers to “grow to sell” instead of “grow and sell.” Since its success in Kenya, where the income of 2,500 farmers has doubled in two years, this approach has been introduced in many of JICA’s projects and projects outside JICA.

Two ongoing projects in Côte d’Ivoire, PRORIL 2 for increasing rice production and PREPICO 2 for increasing the production of inland aquaculture, also introduce the concepts of the SHEP approach. Both projects first look at the rice and cultured fish market, especially in Abidjan, where the demand for these products is the largest. The projects support producers of these products in finding out the information on the demand side, such as the price consumers are willing to pay, how often they would like to buy, which market they access to purchase these items, etc. This information needs to be reflected in the production plan so that the farmers can maximise their profit.

However, this approach of supporting producers to plan their “business” based on the market information is easier said than done. Farmers often do not have direct access to consumer information because they sell their products to mediators who may sell to another wholesaler. Another difficult case may be where the farmer has other businesses that produce profit, and agriculture is only a side business with less urgency for detailed planning or investment. The SHEP approach, therefore, needs to be adjusted to various types of producers so that the project becomes effective in different cases.

Based on my experience working in different countries’ agricultural sectors, motivation and business mindset play a crucial role when supporting the development of agriculture and other primary industries. Once the producers are motivated to invest in their farming activities, the technologies introduced by other countries play a role in increasing productivity. I continue to search for ways in which support from JICA can effectively enhance the development of the agriculture sector in different countries.

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A booth inside the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in Timor-Leste for selling locally produced rice Production of tilapia at one of the sites of the Project for the revitalization of inland aquaculture through the development of the aquaculture value chain in Cote d’Ivoire Group photo with the colleagues of JICA Cote d’Ivoire office Shunji conducting an interview with farmers in Myanmar for the final evaluation of the project for the development of water-saving agriculture technology in the Central Dry Zone

Cultur al Discovery in Taiwan

I had my exchange at National Central University (NCU), Taiwan for approximately four months. During the programme, I took unique courses on Hakka culture offered at the university. These have enabled me to understand more about the Hakka people in the Taiwanese community and how the different cultures are preserved in Taiwan. I have also acquired some basic Hokkien to have small conversations with older people in Taiwan who mainly speak Hokkien but not Chinese.

Another feature of my exchange is my leisure trips to different places, e.g., Keelung, New Taipei City, Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan, Kaohsiung, and Pingtung. As a Sociology student, I have been observant of the different happenings in the local community. I stayed in Kaohsiung during Lunar New Year

and noticed how Taiwanese people place great emphasis on traditions, with—many of them are wearing red clothing during the Chinese New Year. Also, the dishes they have for a new year meal are completely different from Hong Kong. The carrot cakes are eaten on New Year’s Eve; dumplings and hotpots are commonly prepared; mullet roe with either Taiwanese pear or white radish are served. The dining culture also differs from Hong Kong. In Taiwan, individuals tend to have meals with very large families so that the number of people can fill 3-4 big round tables.

“ I have been observant of the different happenings in the local community. ”
Photos of National Central University An independent Microcredit course offered by the College of Hakka

Writers’ Bio


Freddie Faulkner received the Li & Fung scholarship for a summer research project at Tsinghua University in Beijing. He holds an MEng from the University of Oxford in Materials Science and has recently completed his MBA at the Saïd Business School, Oxford. He is an engineering and B2B sales professional with experience in R&D, manufacturing and business development.

Freddie is currently based in Helsinki, working for a spin-out from the University of Oxford focussing on quantum computing. In his role as product manager, he acts as the interface between customers and the engineering team while ensuring the accurate and timely delivery of software products to the customers.

In his spare time, Freddie enjoys running, skiing and trying to learn Finnish. He is grateful to be part of the Fung Scholars network and looks forward to connecting with more people in the network over the coming years.

Mavis Fan received the Li & Fung Scholarship for a one-year exchange at The University of Liverpool. She received her Bachelor degree in Social Sciences (Psychology) and Master degree in Social Service Management from the University of Hong Kong.

Mavis has been working in Hong Kong higher education spanning teaching and learning, research and development, and marketing and public communication. She is currently a Technical Writer at a university, providing professional editing services for research grant proposals, external communication materials, and papers. In her own time, she conducts subject teaching for young pupils and provides career guidance for job seekers.

Mavis loves distance running, breadand coffee-making. She looks forward to joining hands with Fung Scholars to bring social good, share joy, and promote personal growth.

Kyla Huang received the Li & Fung Scholarship for a half-year exchange at EHL Hospitality Business School. She is now a year 3 student in Hotel Management in The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Kyla is currently a hotel project management intern at Club Med’s Shanghai headquarters. With a previous role in the marketing and event department at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong, she has gained valuable experience in graphic design and event management.

Kyla is passionate about reading, travel, and photography, and enjoys exploring new cultures and meeting new people. She is excited to meet and connect with fellow Fung Scholars, and she is filled with joy and appreciation for joining this community.

FREDDIE FAULKNER Editor Fung Scholar 2013/14 Saïd Business School, Oxford MAVIS FAN Editor Fung Scholar 2013/14, The University of Hong Kong KYLA HUANG Designer Fung Scholar 2022/23, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


Fung Scholar 2021/22

Sabrina is a language major student who is fond of culture, art and communication. She is keen on entering the business sector while utilising her competence in communication. In 2022, she took part in an exchange program at the University of Birmingham, where she studied social science and applied linguistics. She is also actively involved in volunteering and committee positions in school and NGO organizations. Regardless of the hectic schedule, Sabrina enjoys sipping a cup of coffee and reading a book with R&B music in the background. She is excited to make connections with other Fung scholars, Sabrina can be reached at:



Fung Scholar 2020/21 Northeastern University

Christopher Owen holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Northeastern University and is currently a Ph.D. student at Columbia University. Christopher’s research primarily focuses on developing lowcost energy storage technologies for the power grid. During his research career, Christopher has contributed to numerous energy storage projects both in industrial and academic settings. His most recent work in Italy at the University of Milan Department of Physics resulted in a first-author publication in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy. Now, at the Columbia Electrochemical Energy Center, he continues his research with Professor Dan Steingart.


Fung Scholar 2021/2022 University of Oxford

Bartol is a third-year engineering student at the University of Oxford who, with the help of funding provided by the Fung scholarship, completed a research internship at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology last summer, focusing on the development of a novel solar biomass pyrolysis plant. This experience helped him steer his engineering degree in a more chemical direction going into his third year, choosing modules that complimented the research he loved doing over the summer. He is grateful for the opportunity to receive the Fung Scholarship and is looking forward to potentially collaborating again in the future to make contributions to the field of engineering and positive changes to society

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Fung Scholar 2022/23

Renmin University of China

I was born and raised in Jinan, Mainland China, and I am currently a junior student of Bachelor of Arts at the Renmin University of China. From September to February 2022, I studied Spanish and linguistics at the University of Hong Kong as an exchange student, where I was very honoured to meet the teachers of the Fung Foundation. I like reading Latin American literature and watching literary films. Nice to meet you!


Fung Scholar 2013/14 Peking University

I’m Zhang Ye, from China, and I’m studying my PhD at Koc University right now. My field of research is marketing, especially digital marketing, and tourism marketing. Now I live in Istanbul, a beautiful city in Turkey. After years of work, I am grateful for the Fung Fellowship, which inspired me to pursue an academic career again. I am honored to be with the Fung family. I would like to share one interesting topic which I recently working on “Purchase Intentions of Aesthetic Goods From the Perspective of Durability And Perceived Quality”.


FS 2021/22

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Kaili is a student from MIT studying mathematics with computer science and brain and cognitive sciences. She cares deeply about the ethical challenges in artificial intelligence. As a SERC Scholar, Kaili has devoted herself to advancing innovation in the public interest through her work on the social and ethical responsibilities of computing at MIT’s Schwarzman College of Computing. She advocates for responsible innovation as Editor-in-Chief of the MIT Undergraduate Research Journal. She also promotes equity, inclusion, and retention for women+ in STEM as a mentor for MIT PRIMES Circle. Kaili hopes to pursue graduate school to study biologically plausible models of learning and memory that draw inspiration from the brain. In her free time, Kaili enjoys reading fiction and designing and creating traditional Chinese jewelry.




Fung Scholar 2016/17

The University of Tokyo

Minaho Todaka is currently a graduate student in sociology of education at the University of Tokyo, in Japan. Her main area of research is socialization of children through housework in families, especially focusing on gender roles. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Tokyo in 2019. She has also studied abroad as an exchange student at Leiden University in the Netherlands with a Fung Scholarship.



Fung Scholar 2016/17

The University of Tokyo

Noriko earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in agriculture from the University of Tokyo (UTokyo). she had a one-year exchange at University of the Philippines with support from the Fung scholarship in 2016. She is now pursuing a PhD study at the University of Tokyo. Her research topic is on the development of rice farming technologies for areas with limited access to irrigation in southeast Asia.



Fung Scholar 2016/17

The University of Tokyo

Shunji Segawa is a program officer at Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) with five years of experience in the organisation. Being a graduate of the University of Tokyo, where he majored in agricultural economics, Shunji first worked in the Agricultural Development Department, where he was in charge of multiple technical cooperation projects in Timor-Leste and Myanmar. From 2019 to 2022, Shunji worked in the Côte d’Ivoire office, where he was involved in agriculture and aquaculture projects as well as administrative tasks such as security and accounting. Shunji is currently on leave to stay in Laos, where his wife works.

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Kelly is a final-year student majoring in Sociology. Spending the last 4 years at Lingnan University, the inclusive atmosphere enables her to overcome challenges and difficulties. Taiwanese culture and food have been her all-time favourite. Aging, Cultural Conservation, and some other social issues are common in both Taiwan and Hong Kong. In her final year, she decided to study in Taiwan for a semester. The experience had been remarkable and meaningful.

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