News & Events

07 Apr 2024

Arts & Sports

How did this amateur botanist celebrate China-France friendship?


April has put a spirit of youth in everything and here on campus flora and foliage again flourish. 

Thomas Mattei(3rd from the right, 1st row) sharing maple seedlings

Days ago, many students of diverse nationalities and majors at Fudan received a maple seedling grown by Thomas Mattei, an international master student now studying international public policy at Fudan University. Last semester, he collected the seeds from maples all over Fudan campus and cultivated them out of his love for maples on campus. Now he has giving them out as a symbol of deep connection and friendship between him and the land. 

A Chinese student receiving a sapling at the event, with her wish on the card saying “Be happy every day.”

Thomas has always had a deep fondness for trees, especially maples. He had a north American maple in his garden back in France. “In my hometown, I was more used to see the north American type of maple and very rarely the Asian type. So when I arrived in Fudan and saw so many of the Asian type in variety and quantity, I was indeed impressed and super excited,” said Thomas, “their large and thin, long and short, feather-like and spear-like, green, slightly pink and red leaves, the twist of their apex and branches make this kind of tree truly special and surely enjoyable to observe,” said Thomas. During the autumn semester, as he strolled past the maple trees beside Wenke Building after class, their unique beauty captivated him, so that he decided to collect maple seeds from various spots across the campus. 

Thomas Mattei’s thriving maple seedlings

“I collected the seeds all around the campus, from the hilly garden near the main gate to the area in front of the science building, from the pool by the Centre for American Studies to the gazebo on the far northern side, for I appreciate their variety, and also practically, I was not sure which kind was able to survive and sprout.” 

The winged shape seeds of maple

Yet it is not only their aesthetic appeal that draws this nature guy to these trees; it is also their pliancy, the perfect blend into the surroundings that was fascinating. “When you see the spreading branches and sprawling leaves and the way breeze weaves through them rustling and whispering, you understand the harmony graced upon the interaction between these trees and their environment,” said he. “The woods silently stand and watch us students come and go year after year.” 

A maple seedling transplanted into a pot

With profound appreciation toward the maples, the international student can often be found strolling through the campus, observing these plants and immersing himself in the environment which he feels a strong affinity with. 

Maples in different seasons on Fudan campus

Upon his initial impression of Fudan University, Thomas was stroked by how expansive the campus is. He found Chinese universities to resemble small cities or parks, with a full array of buildings, facilities, and green spaces. Before Thomas started his graduate study at Fudan, he has had a year experience as an exchange student in Shanghai, a city that he likes for its vibe of liberty. 

Maples of different colors and shapes on Fudan campus

Thomas already has a master degree in international public law, and now he studies international relations and public policy, for the significance of “seeing things in a bigger picture”. Fortunately, Fudan provides him with abundant resources to do so. 

In his second and also the last year as a master student at Fudan University, Thomas aspires to pursue a career in the field of public policy equipped with what he has learnt through the two years and stay here in China after graduation. 

During his time spent in China, he travelled around the country a lot. The cities he has been to includes Beijing, Hangzhou, Jiaxing, Nanjing, Suzhou, Suizhou (hometown of his wife), Xi’an, Zhangjiajie, Tongren, Guangzhou, Zhuhai and Hong Kong. “My favorite is Xi’an by far.” Thomas capped his experience with candor, “I truly loved the urbanism there, it is very spacey, and they were able to perfectly mix the ancient to the new, I found that really amazing and fascinating.”

Thriving seedlings at Thomas Mattei’s apartment

In the midst of this fair spring, Thomas gave out the seedlings he grew and prepared for each recipient detailed instructions. It was a little gift to celebrate France-China friendship and the shared memory of our beloved Fudan campus. It also witnessed how a French student grew and connected to this land like a seedling, pliant yet steady.



Presented by Fudan University Media Center

Writer: YANG Yunya

Editor: WANG Mengqi, LI Yijie