China’s First International Students

Realising the world was changing around them, the Qing government began sending students abroad.

China’s first group of government-sponsored overseas students, by Milton Miller, 1872. Courtesy Loewentheil China Photography Collection / 洛文希尔中国摄影收藏.

On 11 August 1872 China’s first batch of government-sponsored overseas students set out from Shanghai. Crossing North America by train, they arrived in New England to start their life of study abroad. According to the memoirs written in 1922 by one of the students, Lee Yan Phou, they looked forward to the experience, but were fraught with anxiety at the same time. 

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