A Transformative Journey: Reflections on Li Yan’s University of Baguio Experience

“My three years of study at the University of Baguio have expanded my intellectual horizons and enhanced my scientific research methods. I have greatly appreciated the friendly, rigorous, and fair teaching approach of the professors at the university. Throughout the process of writing and revising my dissertation, the professors’ guidance has emphasized problem-solving through logical thinking, reasoning, and analysis to attain objective and accurate knowledge. Their commitment to rationality and logic has left a lasting impression on me. 

During the dissertation defense, the professors treated our work with fairness and seriousness. Their questions aimed at correcting errors in our research methodology and content, demonstrating their dedication to our academic development. I also had the opportunity to participate in the University of Baguio International Students Day, where I showcased the art of Beijing sugar painting. The enthusiastic interest shown by students and teachers from the University of Baguio, as well as students from various countries, in Chinese traditional culture has inspired me to further appreciate and promote Chinese intangible cultural heritage skills.”

The excerpt above is from Li Yan, an educator, cultural heritage advocate, and award-winning artist of Beijing China. Bruce Lee also known by his English name, is a graduate school student pursuing a Doctor of Education degree at the University of Baguio. He recently defended his paper titled “Development of Shadow Play Art in Beijing Universities’ Liberal Arts Programs.”

Mr Bruce Lee during the International Students Day last March 1, 2023 at UB Gymnasium

He is a lecturer at China Women’s University specializing in Higher Education, holding a Master of Fine Arts from Southeast University’s College. With nearly two decades of experience, Li Yan has been teaching digital media art, focusing on Interaction Design, Animation Design, and WEB Front-end Design. He is an outstanding instructor in the China University Student Computer Design Competition and has received several teaching awards, including recognition for excellence in teaching, ethics, and employment.

Beyond his teaching, Li Yan has dedicated himself to preserving and promoting intangible cultural heritage for 20 years. He is a member of the China Folk Literature and Artists Association and serves as the representative inheritor of the intangible cultural heritage “Beijing Sugar Painting.” Additionally, he is the Deputy Director of the Chinese Women’s Cultural Heritage Research Centre at China Women’s University. Li Yan has studied Beijing Opera face painting for nearly seven years under a representative inheritor of the colorful Beijing Opera style and shadow play production and performance for almost eight years under a representative inheritor of Beijing shadow play.

Mr Bruce Lee showcasing sugar painting methods at Session Rd., Baguio City during the celebration of Chinese New Year

From July 2013 to July 2020, Li Yan guided his students in the China University Student Computer Design Competition, producing works based on the theme of Chinese excellent traditional culture. His students achieved remarkable success, winning the first prize at the national level three times, the second prize 13 times, and the third prize 18 times. Li Yan’s contributions have been recognized with the China Design Red Star Award and through his participation in various cultural exchange activities and festivals worldwide, where he has showcased Beijing shadow puppetry and other traditional arts.

In December 2017, Li Yan received the prestigious China Design Red Star Award, marking a significant recognition of his artistic achievements. Subsequently, in February 2018, he actively contributed to the Joyful Spring Festival cultural exchange programs in Greece and Denmark, showcasing the rich tapestry of Chinese culture. Expanding his international presence, Li Yan captivated audiences at the Avignon Theatre Festival in France in July 2018, where he skillfully presented the traditional Beijing shadow puppetry art form. Demonstrating the global appeal of his craft, he exhibited Beijing shadow puppetry at the 22nd Puppet Theatre Festival in Berlin in December 2018.

Continuing his cultural diplomacy, Li Yan participated in the Cultural Week of Chinese Art Brilliant Night at the United Nations in January 2019, further promoting the beauty of Chinese artistic traditions on the global stage. In February 2019, he mesmerized audiences in Finland and Estonia with captivating performances of Beijing shadow theatre. Beyond performances, Li Yan showcased his artistic versatility by designing the shadow-style mascot for Grupo Jorge in Spain in March 2019. 

His commitment to cultural exchange persisted in March 2020, as he actively engaged in the Joyful Spring Festival activities in Ireland. In February 2021, Li Yan’s involvement in the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism’s Non-Heritage Accompanying You for the Chinese New Year online celebration highlighted his dedication to sharing Chinese cultural heritage in innovative ways. Recently, in January 2023 and February 2024, Li Yan continued his global cultural outreach by participating in exchange activities celebrating Chinese New Year in Little Chinatown, Baguio City, Philippines, further solidifying his role as a cultural ambassador and advocate for the rich traditions of Beijing shadow puppetry.

Written by Vilma Deponio and Jessa Bustillo

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