Eldar Wang, Class of 2023, wins McCall MacBain Scholarship

Duke Kunshan University senior Eldar Wang has been awarded the McCall MacBain Scholarship as one of the leadership program’s first 10 global recipients.

The Class of 2023 undergraduate, published author and serial winner of literature prizes will join the scholarship at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, this fall after she was chosen from thousands of international applicants from 149 countries.

Wang received the phone call to say she was accepted into the program in its first year of global admissions just as she was about to order at a Chinese restaurant in Montreal.

“The news was such a dream-come-true that I immediately burst into tears. It was a great moment in my life.”

Eldar Wang

The 30-strong 2023 cohort of McCall MacBain Scholars from Canada and the rest of the world will from September pursue a fully funded master’s or professional degree at McGill, while participating in mentorship, coaching and a leadership development program. Wang, from Shanghai, China, will study for a master of arts in East Asian Studies.

She and her new classmates were chosen based on their character, community engagement, leadership potential, entrepreneurial spirit, academic strength and intellectual curiosity following a rigorous seven-month selection process that culminated in final-round interviews in Montreal.

The scholarships are the result of a landmark C$200 million gift (about RMB 1 billion) in 2019 by John and Marcy McCall MacBain, the second-largest single donation in Canadian history.

This year is the first time the scholarship has admitted students from outside Canada. Of the inaugural group of 10 non-Canadian recipients, Wang is one of two from China.

Majoring in global cultural studies (world literature), Wang has achieved remarkable success as a young scholar, writer, translator, activist and stand-up comedian.

The author of “Too Fond of Poetry: In The World”, she has also published four book-length works as an English-to-Chinese translator, including Gertrude Stein’s “Paris France”. More recently, she was invited to translate a best-selling National Geographic title.

Wang presenting a talent show, and pictured with classmates and humanities professor Caio Yurgel

Her impressive haul of accolades include the Thirteen Villains Literature Award (2021) for her short story “Please Don’t Be Too Astonished” and she was twice shortlisted for the Millennium Bilingual Poetry Awards (2020, 2021). Last year, she won a literature comedy contest.

She has also co-led a team of six providing teaching materials for elementary schools in remote regions.

Wang’s main areas of interest are world literature, culture in modern China and the representation of Asian minority groups around the world.

Wang said being awarded the scholarship is a responsibility as well as an achievement.

“We have the obligation to serve as a scholar to make the world a better place,” she said. “I know that’s a big phrase but there are lots of opportunities to do this.

“The scholars are already doing really great things — establishing NGOs to help regions access fresh water, helping to give life to dying indigenous languages — and when we are united I hope we can do much more as a group.

“There is pressure with this shiny title but I feel energized by it.”

Wang said Duke Kunshan and its diversity helped her to gain a better understanding of different global viewpoints.

“I now feel comfortable talking to people with diverse backgrounds. That gives us a very broad perspective about how the world works so we won’t be constrained by our own perspective and we have the ability to see from other people’s point of view.”

Filming in Suzhou as part of the BOND International Virtual Live Performance Festival in 2020

Praising Duke Kunshan’s faculty, she added, “They are extraordinary scholars and have been helping me so much, not only as professors and instructors but as friends.

“All of the professors help us to cultivate interest in research and connect us with real society through sharing internships, conferences and other opportunities.

“They work really hard to support us to find our place in the world, as well as teaching great classes.”

One of her mentors is Dr. Paul Stanley, associate professor of the practice and senior lecturer in physics at DKU, who described her enthusiasm for life and learning as inspiring to others.

“Eldar speaks so well, with such honest, personal passion, about many things, and is committed to raising social awareness through various paths,” he said.

Dean of the McCall MacBain Scholarships Natasha Sawh said the group of 280-plus volunteers supporting the selection process, who included industry and societal leaders, saw something special in Wang.

“Eldar’s selection is a tribute to the time and energy she has put into improving the lives of others,” she said.

“Our volunteers looked not only for academic strength, but for leadership qualities like integrity, kindness, grit, and an ability to motivate a team to address tough challenges.”

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Media Contact

Senior Editor/Writer

Gareth McPherson

Email: gareth.mcpherson@dukekunshan.edu.cn

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