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Astronomy bachelor´s students join Huawei programme in China

2 October 2017

In the Summer of 2017, Astronomy bachelor´s students Matthijs Mars and Joost Wardenier went to China with thirteen other Dutch bachelor´s students for the Huawei Seeds for the Future Programme. Read all about their adventure abroad.

By Joost Wardenier and Matthijs Mars

Huawei Seeds for the Future Programme

Chinese technology company Huawei has developed their Huawei Seeds for the Future Programme for students to get to know Chinese customs, corporate life and recent developments in telecommunications. The programme consists of two parts. In the first week we got a crash course in Chinese language and culture at the Language & Culture University in Beijing. After that we went to Shenzhen for a technical training at Huawei headquarters.

Chinese courses

Taking courses at the Language & Culture University was an unforgettable experience. A Chinese university is practically a village on its own. It has massive canteens, parks, sport facilities and dormitory buildings housing thousands of students. The Chinese courses were very interesting as well. After four days we could introduce ourselves in Chinese, order food, have a simple conversation and even sing a song. On top of that I now have a beautiful Chinese watercolor painting and calligraphy scroll above my bed.

Cultural tour

We also had plenty of time to explore Beijing’s many historical sites. Our enthusiastic guide took us to the Summer Palace, the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. By ourselves we also went to Tian’anmen square, the Olympic parc and – believe it or not – a karaoke bar. To learn some more about the connections between China and the Netherlands we visited the Dutch Embassy. Altogether, a very packed and diverse programme!

Beijing Normal University

In addition to the Huawei programme, Leiden University organised a visit for us to Beijing Normal University. We had an entire evening to share experiences with three Chinese astronomy students. It was very entertaining to talk about cultural and academic differences, but also about our shared interests as astronomers.

Astronomy bachelor´s student Joost Wardenier with Chinese school children on the Great Wall in China.

Shenzhen: Chinese Silicon Valley

For the second part of the programme we moved to Shenzhen, a city in the south of China. This city is known as the Silicon Valley of the country, because many high-tech companies are located here. In Shenzhen we met students from Algiers and Malawi, who were also participating in the Seeds for the Future Programme. Together we had a training programme at the Huawei Campus. We learned about 4G, 5G, smart cities, cloud computing and broadband traffic. After two days of theory we configured our own 4G base station. It was very satisfying when we could finally make a voice call using our own network.


Furthermore, as part of the programme, we visited Splendid China (a Chinese Madurodam and more), Shenzhen Civic Centre (with a museum about the history of Shenzhen) and BYD (a manufacturer of electric cars, monorails and more).

Seeds for the Future certificate

During our two weeks in China Huawei was the perfect host. We slept in fantastic hotels with amazing breakfast buffets. Every evening we ate at restaurants, offering wonderful dishes, ranging from dumplings to dimsum and from Beijing duck to noodle soup. On the final day of our stay in Shenzhen we joined the formal closing ceremony, in the presence of a representative of the Dutch Consulate-General in Guangzhou. She handed out our well-deserved Seeds for the Future Certificate, the award on two very fun and educational weeks.

Unique opportunity

This trip to China was a unique opportunity for Matthijs and myself. Nothing is more fun than to go on a great adventure with fifteen likeminded students. We were introduced to the overwhelming gastronomy, language and culture of a remarkable country. At the same time we got unique behind-the-scenes insights into one of the world’s largest technology companies. The Huawei Seeds for the Future Programme was a great addition to our Astronomy bachelor's programme. We would recommend anyone to look beyond the boundaries of your studies and country!

The Huawei Seeds for the Future group of bachelor´s students at the Huawei Campus in Shenzhen, China.
The Huawei Seeds for the Future group of bachelor´s students at the Huawei Campus in Shenzhen, China.


Participation in the Huawei Seeds for the Future Programme is an extracurricular activity for Astronomy students. This means that the programme does not result in any EC that count for your Astronomy education programme. If you are inspired by the story of Joost and  Matthijs, please make sure to read all details on studying abroad during your Astronomy bachelor's programme.

Studying abroad during your Astronomy bachelor's

Share your experience

Are you an Astronomy bachelor's student and do you want to share your experience abroad? Contact the Astronomy PR Coordinator at pr-education@strw.leidenuniv.nl. In your message, shortly describe the relation of your experience abroad with the Astronomy bachelor's programme.


Students get crash course in IT in Chinese Silicon Valley (2016)

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