• Your current position:
  • News >
  • Detail

Print this Page. Send this Page.

Portrait of Ronald Chung-Yam Po

Dec 13, 2013

Ronald Chung-Yam Po comes from Hong Kong and pursued his PhD at the Cluster "Asia and Europe" from 2010 to 2013. He participated in various exchange programmes and researched at the Universities of Cambridge (UK), Kyoto (Japan), and Chicago (USA). His research deals with maritime history focusing on the history of Late Imperial China.

A Transcultural Journey

Ronald during the interview

Ronald arrived in Heidelberg in 2010. His eyes shine when he talks about this city: “It seems to me that students in Heidelberg come from everywhere - the campus is truly international.” As he likes to explore other cultures, traditions, and customs in “this tiny yet vibrant university town”, he looks at another contact zone in his research: the open sea. He wrote his doctoral thesis about maritime history at Heidelberg University. Supervised by Prof. Harald Fuess (Chair of Cultural Economic History) and Prof. Joachim Kurtz (Chair of Intellectual History), Ronald received academic guidance and encouragement to go abroad – which he did extensively.

In 2011 he crossed the sea to Great Britain and spent two semesters at the University of Cambridge as an ERASMUS exchange student. The following summer he was at the University of Kyoto in Japan. His final PhD year led him again overseas to teach at the University of Chicago in the US. His next stop from September 2013 onwards was Canada, where he took up a postdoctoral position at McGill University in Montreal.

Both his travels and his research cross national boundaries. He analyses the historical circumstances at sea and the cultural and social environment of people living by the sea. His project focuses on Late Imperial China and the Asian Sea. While he speaks, his hands move constantly, “the sea is a wonderful and suitable platform to study transculturality since we can find out a lot of cultural exchanges across the sea space.” Again he smiles, his eyes blink: “And transculturality is fun”.

The travel destinations of Ronald around the world (picture by Google Maps)

As an ‘academic globetrotter’, Ronald arrived in Germany after completing his M.Phil. degree in history. His journey began in Hong Kong, a Chinese city, which was once colonised by the British. Despite the general attitude of “making money effectively” that surrounded him, he chose Chinese history in secondary school and has kept studying history ever since – without any doubt: “I love history. I believe that we can learn from history and make use of the past to reflect the present. It also helps me to think critically and analytically”.

Every city he lived in has a specific atmosphere – and of course some kind of water nearby. There was crowded Hong Kong, peaceful Heidelberg, traditional Cambridge, historical Kyoto, and cosmopolitan Chicago. In the US he taught a University course on maritime China for the first time: “Students keep asking questions so that you have to be well prepared for every single class. Meanwhile, you learn a lot from them – and I think the capability of pursuing knowledge is one of the most important freedoms we have nowadays.”

Ronald crossed three seas and travelled to six countries in three years. Where does he feel home? He adjusts his glasses: “There is a Chinese proverb saying that it is better to walk 1000 miles than to read 1000 books.’” He understands the world is now globally connected. “We can meet everywhere; there is no need for boundaries anymore”. He smiles. In 2013, Ronald arrived in Montreal.

Ronald Chung-Yam Po in Heidelberg

Support to study abroad

Master and PhD students can receive support to finance and organise their research stays abroad. The following exchange programmes are suitable for students of the Cluster "Asia and Europe":

ERASMUS programme at Heidelberg University

The ERASMUS programme supports students to study abroad in one country of the European Union. An overview on the partner institutions of Heidelberg University arranged according to the area of studies is available on this website.

Heidelberg Prize Lectureship at University of Chicago

Two student lectureships are awarded each year by the University of Chicago in cooperation with the Cluster “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”. The lectureships enable advanced graduate students to acquire teaching experience in a field broadly related to the discipline of history at the University of Chicago, USA.

Baden-Württemberg Stipendium

The Baden-Württemberg Stiftung enables students from all over the world to study in a foreign country for a period of three to eleven months. The scholarships are divided equally between applicants from Baden-Württemberg and from abroad.

More information

Students at the Cluster "Asia and Europe" can get more information by contacting the Graduate/Master Programme Coordinators.

Furthermore the International Relations Office of Heidelberg University coordinates a number of exchange programmes.


Profile page of Ronald Chung-Yam Po
Chair of Cultural Economic History, Prof. Dr. Harald Fuess
Chair of Intellectual History, Prof. Dr. Joachim Kurtz

Text and pictures by Verena Voeckel


RSS Feeds

RSS FeedNews Feed