NUS student named Rhodes (China) scholar

Xiaorui performing with the NUS Chinese Orchestra

NUS-Sciences Po Double Degree Programme final-year student Zhou Xiaorui has been chosen as a 2020 Rhodes (China) scholar.

One of only four Rhodes (China) scholars selected, Xiaorui will read two Master programmes while in Oxford — a Master in Science in Contemporary Chinese Studies and a Master of Studies in Women’s Studies.

“I wish to explore the complicated past of modern China, bearing the aim of putting ordinary people’s accounts at the centre of a historian’s narrative, and hope to dive further into gender studies, a relatively young and tremendously exciting discipline that is both a product of and a driver for our modernity,” she shared.

International study

Xiaorui came to Singapore from Yueyang City in Hunan Province in October 2011 and completed both her GCE ‘O’ and ‘A’ Levels in Singapore. She was admitted into the NUS-Sciences Po Double Degree Programme in 2016 where she is currently studying History and Middle Eastern Studies. Under the programme, she travelled to Menton, France to study at the Institut D'Etudes Politiques de Paris for two years before returning to NUS in 2018 to complete her degree.

Over her four years of study, Xiaorui has won many accolades, including the NTUC gold medal for top student in NUS Arts and Social Sciences and the George E. Bogaars Memorial Prize for top student in history.

“I am incredibly honoured and humbled to be named one of the four Rhodes scholars for China for 2020. While the two degrees will teach me how to play my academic ‘instruments’, joining the Rhodes community promises an orchestral experience on a global stage,” said Xiaorui, who is also in the NUS University Scholars Programme.

“With this, I hope to hone my research and writing skills in order to translate the multitudes of experiences into words and to better serve my community — both in China and in Singapore — as a historian-educator,” she added.

Power of the humanities

Xiaorui believes in the humanising power of a humanities education, and to that end, she co-founded Project Initium, a free liberal arts initiative for high school graduates from rural counties in China’s Hunan — her home province.

Through this programme, she leads seminars on history and gender. She is also a volunteer and fundraising ambassador for Peer Experience Exchange Rostrum (PEER), an educational Chinese non-government organisation.

An avid musician, Xiaorui has played the Yangqin (Chinese Dulcimer) since the age of 4 and has been a dedicated member of the NUS Chinese Orchestra.

She also enjoys exploring the world through the lens of photography and has played the role of an event photographer in many school activities. While studying in Paris, she also co-launched a photojournalism project titled “World Views” to present the kaleidoscopic world views on a culturally-diverse campus.

The Rhodes Scholarships for China were launched in March 2015, and are supported by the Li Ka Shing Foundation and other benefactors. At least one Rhodes Scholar from China is selected each year on the basis of intellect, character, leadership and commitment to service, to join other Rhodes Scholars from around the world.