“I believe that President Lula’s visit marked the strengthening of the strategic partnership between Brazil and China, and his remarks made it clear not only that Brazil is back in the international arena, but also that China is a valuable, reliable, and fundamental partner for the country and its interests.”
On April 13, Pedro Steenhagen, a Brazilian PhD candidate for the Doctoral Program in International Politics (DPIP) at Fudan’s School of International Relations and Public Affairs (SIRPA), was invited to participate as a guest at former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff ’s inauguration ceremony at the New Development Bank (NDB). This event was also graced with the presence of the incumbent Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva who highlighted the important role of NDB, particularly for BRICS and South-South cooperation.
It is not the first time Pedro was invited to such a high-level event. A few weeks ago, Pedro was at Yangzhou attending the BRICS Seminars on Governance and Cultural Exchange. As the name suggests, the seminars was an opportunity for BRICS countries' representatives to meet each other, exchange ideas, and strengthen the relationships between the BRICS countries.
“China has been an essential player within the BRICS platform that make the countries stick together in some way,” he said.
On top of giving a speech himself, Pedro also had some insightful takeaways from the event. One of the points he highlighted was how BRICS can act as an important platform in the international system by “strengthening the coordination among BRICS countries and promoting more representation”. He believes that by doing so, BRICS can truly reach its potential.
Pedro’s bond with China began at a very young age with Jackie Chan’s movies. “Jackie Chan has always been a big inspiration for me ever since I was a child. I love his movies.” The bond became even stronger when he visited China during his master’s study in 2018. In the end, Pedro decided to pursue his PhD with the School of International Relations and Public Affairs (SIRPA) at Fudan.
His background wasn’t always in international relations though. When Pedro was applying to universities, international relations in Brazil was a relatively new field of study and wasn’t as widespread as it is today. Therefore, he decided to pursue a degree in law. “I figured that law would amplify the scope of my possibilities to work (in the job market).” However, after completing his undergraduate studies at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, he realized that his true love is still international relations and decided to continue his Master’s in Analysis and Management of International Policy.
Pedro’s research at Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro mainly focused on Chinese investments in Brazil and Latin America and the diplomatic relationship between Brazil and China. He described it as the “first part of falling in love (with China)”. In 2018, Pedro received a full scholarship for the BRICS Summer School at Fudan. “That was my first physical contact with China, and it was falling in love part two. I decided that I really want to be here, live here, and do my PhD in China. Thankfully that dream came true.”
Of all the universities in China, Pedro chose Fudan to pursue his PhD because of his familiarity with the university and the prestigious program. “My professors and colleagues are absolutely outstanding. They’re renowned nationally and internationally. It's the kind of environment that stimulates and motivates you to do better and reach a better place in your career.” But, there’s more than just that. Fudan’s wide range of cultural activities and the diversity of students is another reason why Pedro chose to study here. “Here, I get to meet students from all over China and other international students as well.”
While studying at Fudan is a dream that has come true, it also comes with challenges. As an international student, the language barrier is probably the biggest challenge for Pedro. He is learning Chinese to deal with that obstacle and hopes to be fluent in Chinese by the end of his PhD study. Just like any other student studying away from home, being away from family and friends is another big challenge. However, he is turning all that into his motivation to study and focus on the exciting life at Fudan.
With a bit over two years left in his PhD program, Pedro looks forward to other chances to attend seminars like this, and work with amazing professors from Fudan. In his spare time, Pedro is keen on traditional Chinese sports. He is ready to participate in an upcoming Dragon Boat competition this year, and of course, to practice Kungfu (martial arts) to “complete a childhood dream of being like Jackie Chan.”
Presented by Fudan University Media Center
Writer: Liao En Tung
Editor: Wang Mengqi, Li Yijie
Designer: Jia Yingyue