Editor’s Note: Niladri Saha Saccha, a 21-year-old boy from Bangladesh, is a sophomore undergraduate student majoring in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute (UM-SJTU JI, JI hereafter). Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, he spent the first one and a half years in his home country taking online courses. He was thrilled to finally arrive at SJTU campus in March 2023 and experience the wonderful and peaceful campus life with high-security enclosed campuses, natural covers, lakes, eco-friendly class buildings, and green libraries, as he said in an interview with JI Communications Office. Saccha participated in many student activities on campus, including the recent dragon boat tryouts, to select new members for the SJTU International Student Dragon Boat Team.

In the below article contributed by Saccha, he expresses his love for the dragon boating experience, “Dragon boating is really exhilarating and one of the most exciting sport, requiring team spirit and the mental strength. The feeling of crossing the finish line together is truly unbeatable.”


On April 22, 2023, more than 50 international students from around the world participated in the Shanghai Jiao Tong University International Student  Dragon Boat Team Tryouts event. The students enjoyed two hours of training and dragon boating sessions, celebrating the rich Chinese culture and history.

Niladri Saha Saccha (man in blue T-shirt on the second row) takes a photo with teammates before the dragon boat race.

Students practise paddling on the ground before getting on the boat.

On a sunny spring noon, participants gathered at the Dragon Boat Dock near the Danshui River of the SJTU Minhang Campus for on-ground training drills before getting ready on the boat. Three teams were formed, each with 18 paddlers, one drummer, and one steersman, racing against each other for 200 meters in three rounds. The team with the most wins received certificates and wooden dragon boats. The atmosphere was vibrant and filled with excitement and enthusiasm as students with no prior experience cheered themselves to row faster than the other boats.

Dragon boat race on the Danshui River

Students celebrate upon reaching the finishing line.

The dragon boat race is an ever-going Chinese tradition of over 2000 years. Legend has it that it began in ancient times when the people of Chu mourned the loss of their wise minister Qu Yuan. To commemorate this event, dragon boats are rowed annually on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar. Dragon boats are used to disperse the fish in the river so that they do not harm Qu Yuan’s body. This custom was widely observed in the ancient kingdoms of Wu, Yue, and Chu. The dragon boat is more than just a vessel, it is an opportunity to strengthen your body and feel a sense of unity within a group. The paddlers have to row in unison to the rhythm of the drummer, who cheers and keeps the pace of each team. Meanwhile, the steersman stays at the back of the boat, steering the direction of the boat.

Niladri Saha Saccha (man in blue T-shirt on the second row) and his teammates receive certificates for winning the race

SJTU organizes dragon boat races every year to reinforce among the students the unity and firm belief that “We are One.” The selected team from the event will participate in the SJTU Dragon Boat Race 2023, which will be held in June.