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Before we begin, for all the unworldly, non-Sinophiles who found their way here, Xiaoyu is pronounced in English: “shih-ow-you.” “L,” likewise, is pronounced in English: “el.” 

Say that back to yourself a couple times, because she’s not bowing to the luxury so many non-Asian languages speakers are privileged. No, sir, not handing us a convenient alternative American name to make up for the lack of proper tongue positioning training. She holds us in higher regard than that. 

Like many of our students, Xiaoyu’s favorite part of the Summit was our second day’s symposium (it seemed to bring out the social butterfly in everyone), and she loved learning about space exploration. In her own words, there’s just something more fantastical about it. And we thought the romance of human nomadicity had died with Laika the dog. 

She loves Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, and Mahler (are those, like, Eastern European biscuit brands?) and, given the resources and brain power to invent anything, she’d engineer AI pet cats that could keep elderly people company. No litter box: they take a transmitter box. And cleanup is a breeze! See, you just bang on it a couple times.

Give Xiaoyu (refresher: “shih-ow-you”) a big round of applause for her performance at Model G20’s 2021 July Summit, A Healthier Earth and Beyond, and lend your eyes to her interview!

Justine Hudock: What’s your name, where are you from, what year are you in school, and what’s a silly, fun fact about you?

Xiaoyu L.: I’m Xiaoyu from China. I’m going to be a Senior 2 next semester. Fun fact: my Internet connection was extremely weak, and it froze many times during the summit, which usually made other people think I wasn’t there!

JH: What was your title and country in the Summit? What did you find most interesting about designing for your country’s particular needs?

XL: Minister of Energy and Sustainability. Australia. I found it interesting that it wasn’t until 2018 that Australia formed its own Space Agency, although Australia actually had already attended numerous space-related activities. 

JH: What did you come to the Summit more interested in: global health, or space exploration? Are you leaving the Summit still more interested in that, or did you flip?

XL: Space exploration. And I’m still more interested in it because it seems more fictional, fantastical, if that makes sense, than global health. But it’s also very cool to know all kinds of vaccines as my teammates on the global health track do! 

JH: To what extent does your interest in either Summit topic (or both) inform your path — perhaps toward a future career, or simply in how you consume and behave in everyday life?

XL: I got to know more about nuclear energy and my bias against nuclear reactors was corrected after learning about the facts. 

JH: What advice do you have for other students who may be interested in following a similar path toward worldly mindfulness — being aware of life on a global and time-transcendent scale? 

XL: Always try to be tolerant and understanding and do your best to be a life-long learner. People from different cultural backgrounds might hold diverse opinions, it’s really interesting to understand their situations and learn something new from them. 

JH: What was your favorite part about the Summit? 

XL: The symposium. People could talk about whatever they were interested in and I heard a lot of creative conversations about space technologies, which inspired me a lot while making policies. 

JH: What else do you do outside of school that you really enjoy? Hobbies, academic extracurriculars?

XL: I’m very interested in classical music (I have quite nerdy hobbies) and I’m a big fan of Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Mahler. My favourite piece is Prokofiev’s second piano concerto. 

JH: If you could invent one thing that would make life easier for people (perhaps related to global health or space exploration), what would you invent? (Pst… your idea doesn’t have to be totally feasible!)

XL: I would like to invent AI pet cats that can accompany elderly people. As the world is facing a severe aging problem, these kinds of low-price robots might help humans a lot. Their appearances and sounds will be very similar to real cats, but they won’t require the elderly to take much care of them and at the same time, more functions can be added to them to help the elderly improve their lives. 

JH: What is one goal, personal or professional, you would love to achieve in the next five years? (Be creative! Tell us your wildest dream!)

XL: I want to get into an ideal university and study my ideal major!

JH: What is your perspective on good leadership? What does it mean to evolve as a leader?

XL: Good leadership requires the ability to compare and decide. He/she needs to find the right path for all his/her group members after weighing up the potential pros and cons, which is very complicated to do well. 

JH: Any college plans laid down yet? Do you have an intended major or minor? Dream school?

XL: I would like to study comparative literature as my major if possible. Also, I’m interested in philosophy and maybe that can be my future minor. I haven’t thought of any dream schools yet, that’ll depend on my future grades…

JH: What might people be surprised to learn about you?

XL: I’m a very introverted person but, actually, really funny! Though, most of the jokes I tell are connected with some specific boring areas that no one else understands. 

Favorite Five

Class at school?

Chemistry. Because chemistry is an accurate and lively science and to some extent it is like assembling Legos (I mean some part of the basic organic chemistry). 

Book — title and author?

Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre. It is my favourite novel by Sartre. The main reason I like it is that the language is very characteristic. You can see how the philosopher twists his surrounding environment to an abstract level using his wild imagination. 

Food?

Mashed potatoes!

Color?

Blue. I don’t know why. I discovered the fact after unconsciously making all my wallpaper blue. 

Quote?

“To regret the past, to hope in the future, and never to be satisfied with the present: that is what I spend my whole life doing.” – Pyotr Tchaikovsky

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