Symington W. Smith, an MSc student at the Lau China Institute, has been recognised by prestigious organisations in the UK and USA for his work on social change, youth empowerment and promoting East Asia.
In May this year Symington, who is studying on the MSc China and Globalisation course, was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts for his contributions to social change and youth empowerment. This was in recognition of having co-founded China's first and largest plant-based festival to promote sustainable consumption choices and setting up The Winterflower Group, a non-profit based on the empowerment of youth.
He was also made a Life Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society – an honour given to only five individuals a year worldwide - for his services in promoting the study of East Asia. His contributions included empowering young Asian scholars, professionals and leaders through his non-profit organisation and representing the United States student community while he studied Chinese Language and Literature at Peking University.
Then in August this year it was announced that he had also been awarded the U.S. National Association of Asian-American Professionals Inspire Award as one of a cohort of leaders who have elevated the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community’s voice, vision, and impact. The Inspire Award given to Symington recognises leaders who have made a notable departure from their usual work to utilise their platform in affecting positive change in an unexpected way.
Speaking on his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Symington said: "I am honoured to have received this recognition. Now more than ever, we need science, reason, and education, but we also need inspiration and the belief that with action, young people can and do change the world".
We are very glad of Symington's success and the recognition conferred on him. It is a testament to his hard work and commitment, but also a symbol of the immense importance of engaging with, studying, and understanding Asia and Asian cultures generally. I hope that his example inspires many others to follow in his footsteps. – Professor Kerry Brown, Director of the Lau China Institute
On the NAAPI award, Dr Xin Sun, lecturer in Chinese and East Asian business at King’s, said: “The award is a recognition of his excellent work and successes in promoting environmental and social sustainability in China as well as the prominent leadership role he plays in inspiring activism and collaboration in a cross-cultural context. It also showcases the great efforts our students have been making to tackle important contemporary problems in China and the rest of the world.”
The RSA is a politically independent organisation which invites experts from a broad range of industries and fields to help tackle social challenges and fellowships recognise those who have made outstanding achievements for social progress and development.
The Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, was established in 1824, to further "the investigation of subjects connected with and for the encouragement of science, literature and the arts in relation to Asia."
The National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) is a leadership development organisation with a broad range of professional and educational services. Due to the coronavirus pandemic awards were announced at a recent virtual event.