For most students, going to University will mean a move away from home, a change in lifestyle and adapting to new surroundings, however for one of the University of Worcester's graduates, the move was more dramatic than most.
29 year-old MA Sustainable Development Advocacy graduate Peng Li had never left his homeland, China, before coming to study in Worcester. However, during his stay in the city, he has become an integral part of the University’s international community, and has secured a job at the Students’ Union, working on a project which could benefit residents throughout Worcester.
Of his decision to leave China in order to pursue his studies, Peng explains: “It was a big decision for my parents and me. For them, it was tough to let me go and live in a place that is 10,000 miles away, and has a time difference of around eight hours, especially as I had never left the country or stayed away from them.
“For me though, it was an opportunity that was both exciting and challenging. I was always keen to travel and live in a different place, learn a different lifestyle and culture, use a different language and live in a place that I had very little idea about.”
Now, in near-perfect English, Peng explains that he has come to regard Worcester as a second home, thanks in part to the work of the University’s International Centre, which aids and advise hundreds of students from across the world each year.
“The staff from the International Centre have been really kind to me,” says Peng. “They have made me feel really welcome, have looked after me during my studies and most importantly, have offered many international students such as myself the chance to work with them to help other students settle in.
“As a result of this, most international students are able to settle in very quickly and feel connected with the University as soon as they arrive.”
He continues: “Coming over from China, I found Worcester to be a very interesting city. It has a very long history, but is also energetic and vibrant, thanks to the large student population – I have enjoyed my time here.”
Despite today’s ceremony marking the end of Peng’s time as a student in Worcester, his association with the city will go on, as he continues to manage the Students’ Union’s ‘Energize Worcester’ project.
The initiative aims to raise awareness of the importance of living in thermal efficient homes, and making students and residents aware of how changing habits will save energy and improve their financial situation.
Peng explains: “Our preliminary study found that the majority of students living in shared, private houses are suffering from fuel poverty as a result of insufficient knowledge of energy efficiency. We aim to raise awareness and change habits, so students continue a more efficient lifestyle after they leave University.”
The project is initially set to run for two years, but Peng is keen to continue his stay in the city far beyond that time frame.
“I’m committed to Energize Worcester for the next couple of years,” he says. “But in the future, if I could, I’d love to stay in Worcester – I feel deeply attached to the city and the community in which I live.”