Project IMUSE

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IMUSE is a non-profit organization run by students at Harvard, Tsinghua, and Peking University that aims to foster mutual curiosity, respect, and understanding between people in China and North America by providing them with opportunities for personal reflection and social interaction about issues pertaining to both regions today.

IMUSE has three primary goals:

  • Socially intimate and intellectually meaningful face-to-face interactions among a small group of promising North American and Chinese college and university students to increase mutual curiosity, trust, and understanding among them;
  • Development and maintenance of an alumni network to effect high-impact, positive social change through the continued collaboration of former participants of IMUSE events;
  • Maintenance of a strong partnership among its satellites at Harvard, Tsinghua, and Peking Universities to maximize fruitful international exchange among members of our staff.

Past Programs[edit]

Project IMUSE was first conceived by three Harvard undergraduates William Cong, Alvin Huang, and MJ Tang, against the backdrop of global anticipation of the Beijing Olympics. Since its inception in 2007, IMUSE has hosted several programs to this aim.

In 2008, IMUSE held three primary events. The first was the North American campus tour program, in which fourteen outstanding and competitively selected delegates from Tsinghua and Peking Universities traveled to Harvard, MIT, Tufts, Georgetown, Princeton University, Swarthmore, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale, McGill, Stanford, and Washington University to hold public panel discussions with local students on topics in modern China. In concert with these panel discussions, IMUSE also sponsored speaker events with such invited guests as McKinsey Global Institute fellow Dr. Janamitra Devan, Dartmouth College professor David Kang, international celebrity Jet Li, and more.

IMUSE's second endeavor, the China in my Eyes essay and photography competition, was a creative work competition open to all postsecondary school students in North America. The only prompt, "Through an essay or a photograph, tell us about China in your eyes," was left purposely open-ended in order to encourage deep reflection and creative thought. From several hundred entries, six grand-prize winners and twenty runners-up were chosen to receive a free two-week trip to the Beijing Olympics/a new Lenovo laptop or a limited-edition Beijing 2008 collectible coin set, respectively.

The conclusion of this competition brought IMUSE to its third program, the Lenovo IMUSE 2008 Beijing Olympics Fellowship Program, in which four of the six grand-prize "China in my Eyes" winners traveled to Beijing for two weeks in the beginning of August to have as personal and intimate of an experience of life in China as possible. In addition to touring historical sites, attending Olympic events, and socializing with host families and assigned Chinese student liaisons, the four fellows also gave a public panel discussion at Peking University analogous to those hosted by IMUSE in North America.

The IMUSE 2009 Beijing Summer Fellowship Program will brought thirty outstanding postsecondary students from Chinese and American colleges and graduate schools together from August 9 to August 21, 2009 to share their opinions, experience Chinese culture, and learn from one another. During the fellowship, Chinese and American delegates participated alongside one another in a variety of activities designed to be both academically and personally enriching. Delegates engaged in panel discussion events with a student audience, where they discussed the pertinent issues facing Chinese-American relations today. They interacted with and learned from distinguished guest speakers, which in past IMUSE events have included distinguished academics and celebrities from both America and China. As IMUSE is strongly committed to improving the quality of life for individuals in both countries, the fellowship included a short period of public service within an underprivileged community. Other activities and workshops covered a variety of topics from politics to pop culture to food. All events are carried out in English, and no knowledge of Chinese is necessary.

In an effort to help students become familiar with Beijing and all that it has to offer, IMUSE facilitated tours to sites of cultural interest as well as major businesses and government offices within the city. In addition, two days of the fellowship were spent visiting a village outside Beijing, granting delegates a rare opportunity to glimpse the rural China so often overlooked by Western visitors. In order to help document their experiences, delegates each kept a blog during the two weeks that was temporarily uploaded onto the IMUSE website.

Students stayed the two weeks in a hotel and had all necessary living expenses paid for, including accommodations, food, ground transportation, and $500 toward transportation to and from Beijing.

In 2009, in addition to being a national nonprofit organization, IMUSE became a registered Harvard College student organization. Since then, it has held annual student conferences across China and North America.

According to the mission statement of IMUSE, it is hoped that the dynamic, multidisciplinary, and challenging events that it facilitates will expose both American and Chinese delegates to a better understanding of each other, and foster friendships and relationships that last long after the events themselves have ended.

Current activities[edit]

The most recent IMUSE project is the IMUSE 2017 Beijing Summer Fellowship Program.

The program will include delegates from North American schools and 15 delegates from Chinese schools. All students in an American postsecondary school (including two- and four-year colleges, graduate schools, and vocational, technical, and trade schools) are eligible to apply. Students need not be American citizens to apply. Applications may be made through the foundation website:


[1] <p\> [2] Hu, J.C. 2008. Jet Li Fights for Global Teamwork. The Harvard Crimson.<p\> [3] Withers, A. CAMPUS: Panel Betters Western Ties. The McGill Tribune.