Thursday, December 14, 2017

Public Affairs in China: A Practical Approach, Mini-Course taught by Beth Keck

On December 1-3, the Hopkins-Nanjing Center (HNC) offered an exciting mini-course, Public Affairs in China: A Practical Approach, taught by Johns Hopkins SAIS’s own Practitioner-in-Residence for China Studies, Beth Keck, SAIS ‘85. The course, taught over three days, covered topics ranging from the history of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to identifying stakeholders and partners in business, the practice of Government Relations (GR), and crisis management. Professor Keck took an active approach by having students work through complex case studies based on actual events.

SAIS Practitioner-in-Residence Beth Keck at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center
In her role as SAIS Practitioner-in-Residence, Beth Keck brings vast experience in international business, global public affairs, and corporate social responsibility. She implemented Walmart’s Women’s Economic Empowerment initiative to train one million women and the company’s environmental sustainability initiative. She is also the vice chair of Agribusiness Systems International Board of Directors and a board member of ACDI/VOCA, nonprofit organizations providing development expertise in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Professor Keck enjoys teaching at Johns Hopkins SAIS and sees it as a good way to transition from her tenure in Walmart as well as to utilize the knowledge and the contacts that she has made throughout her career. This is Keck’s second visit to the HNC and she admires the HNC students’ ability to do graduate work in their target language of Chinese or English and their level of academic rigor. She believes that a SAIS education is directly relevant to government relations work, where understanding a particular country is critical for communicating with a foreign government and working with different systems of governance.

The course started with an overview of public affairs and government relations. We covered topics such as the role of a company in society as well as some basic communications theory and principles. Professor Keck was always ready to engage with students and have us think through the answers ourselves. As a class we had a chance to see how government can play a huge role in the way companies do business, illustrated through case studies involving Walmart and other companies. The case demonstrated how government priorities and the values of a given business may be at odds and that businesses need to understand how to navigate such a complex policy environment. On day one, I already felt I was learning something important for my future work.

Students engaged in a group activity
On the second day, we learned about the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility and how it fits in the business ecosystem. There are many different types of corporate outreach ranging from philanthropy to creating shared value. As a class we worked through case studies to analyze potential outreach strategies for medium to large companies with a variety of constraints and resources. This part of the course really taught us how different companies can make a positive impact on the countries they do business in.

On the final day of the course, we worked on crisis management and examined cross cultural contexts as well as the wide range of actors that one must contend with when it comes to corporate crisis management. We worked through a business case about a pork mislabeling scandal involving Walmart. We were divided into several “expert” teams to specifically identify plans of action for addressing different stake-holders. We were then further divided to come up with pre-crisis, crisis, and post-crisis recovery strategies. Finishing up the course, my team and I really felt a sense of accomplishment and I was amazed at how much I had learned in such a short time.

Written by Benjamin Miles, MAIS '19

Monday, December 11, 2017

HNC Alumni Profile: Sean Leow

Sean Leow is the Director of International for Kickstarter. He was a founding member of Neocha, a creative agency and bilingual magazine which celebrates and empowers creatives in China and is still an active board member. He graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor of Arts in 2003, received his HNC Certificate in 2005 and graduated with an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management in 2012. He worked at Facebook prior to his position at Kickstarter.

What was your background before coming to study at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center?
I went to Duke University and I was interested in China because my father is Chinese, so I grew up, spent a couple years in Singapore, but really never got to know China because my dad is from Malaysia, of Hakka descent. So I applied to study abroad in Beijing while I was at Duke and had a really great time, and I met David [Davies, current American Co-Director] there where he was leading the program. He told me as well as other classmates about the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and how he had a really positive impression of it, and really encouraged us to apply. As I was thinking about options for post-graduation, the Hopkins-Nanjing Center was the top option.

I applied for it and was lucky enough to get in. At that time in your life you don’t really know what you want to do, so going to the HNC made a lot of sense for me to kind of solidify fluency in Chinese, go deeper in terms of understanding the culture better and also really building the network of people that would help me with my future career, whether that was in business or in the public sector, since I didn’t really know before I went there.

Would you like to share any experiences from the HNC?
I still remember a lot of my classes fondly, ten years plus on, my memories are of working hard to get through a textbook or these assignments when my Chinese was still in a state of learning. All of that made me a lot stronger for everything else that I took on post-HNC.

I took one or two classes from the American professors while I was there, because when you’re taking the classes in Chinese, a lot of your focus is just trying to get through the material. It’s nice to take classes in your native language and be able to flex other muscles that you aren’t otherwise able to. I developed good relationships with those professors that I still keep in touch with.

How did your time at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center set you up for the next steps?
While I was there I had a fantastic Economics lecturer, so I was considering going back and doing a PhD in Economics. At the same time I was connecting with some of the companies that came on campus to recruit, and that’s actually where I ended up going. A small market entry consulting company named Alaris, founded by an HNC alum [Francis Bassolino, HNC Certificate '93], came to the center to recruit and I ended up taking a job with them. So it was through the program that I got my first job there.

So I finished up at the HNC, moved to Shanghai and I worked for two years at Alaris. I was able to cut my teeth in terms of doing business in China - I would be sent to these factories in the middle of China negotiating deals between US companies and their Chinese counterparts, a really intense but really great experience. Through that I was developing an entrepreneurial streak and I started this company called Neocha which has been around for ten years now.

I’d been going deep in the China direction and then for personal and professional reasons, I was interested in not being too pigeonholed into being a China expert. So I came back to the US, I used my MBA at MIT as a transition period to explore some new things, and go in the direction of technology which I was interested in. That’s how I made that pivot back to the US in some sense. But I’ve always kept that connection with China, through this company that I started named Neocha.

Tell us more about the birth of Neocha.
Neocha started as a social networking site just for Chinese artists and musicians. We built a whole social networking site in Chinese, it was me and a couple of friends in Shanghai. We’d basically been noticing a lot of interesting musicians, illustrators, street artists throughout China but none of them knew about each other. Mainstream media also wasn’t talking about that kind of stuff. So this was 2007, it was a while ago, we thought the internet is a good way to connect these people, so we built this website. A lot of people started using it, we got it up to 40,000 users all across China, they were able to share what they were up to, and so it was very focused on China at the time.

We evolved the company for a couple reasons: first, we needed to make money and we also realized that we had aggregated all the best independent creative talent in China in one place and the best way to help them was to be able to provide freelance opportunities for them to work with different brands like Nike and Coke, who wanted really interesting, edgy, creative content for their marketing campaigns in China. So that’s how we pivoted from a social networking site into a creative agency, which is the core of the business now.

We’re fighting a similar battle that we have for a long time, which is the perception of Asia and China in terms of creativity. People dismiss it. I think we still need to tell that story of creativity continually.

How has your Chinese proficiency and your background in China influenced your career in the tech industry?
I think just from a high level it gave me a new perspective to look at any challenge. After I finished my MBA I went and worked at Facebook for about four years and then have been at Kickstarter for two years, and for both companies, dealing with other countries and users in countries around the world has always been a part of my job. With China being such a massive influence and potential opportunity I’ve had to think of how China fits in. Even if we haven’t been able to go into China, it’s given me a new perspective in terms of how would a new user base look at a product like this, how do we keep international considerations in mind, how do we think about how language and culture, and not just take a purely American perspective on how we roll things out.

People respect various backgrounds even if it is not totally applicable to what they’re doing, because it’s just proven that having diverse backgrounds in the same room leads to better outcomes, so if you’re working on a problem that is not related to China, and someone brings some experience or perspective from China, that actually could be the answer to a hard challenge. I try to keep that in mind when I’m working on a problem, when I’m trying to hire somebody, and they have a totally different experience, I think keeping an open mind is the best way to proceed.

With China stating its plans to become a world leader in AI and other technology, what do you think it means for people looking to have a career in technology or related to China?
That’s a big question. When I think of the past 15 years or so that I’ve been watching or working in China, there’s constantly, every other month, someone saying that China’s going to be the future, people will say China’s going to totally dissolve and collapse, there’s always people making predictions. What I think is that betting against China is a really bad idea.

In terms of job prospects, I think that the sky’s the limit, especially for people coming out of the HNC, being able to bridge the gap specifically with Chinese companies that are looking to have a bigger mark outside of China. You see that with companies like Tencent, Wechat, they have bigger ambitions to go outside in the same way the other companies do, like Alibaba, really trying to become global powers, not only domestic ones.

Interviewed by Anna Woods, HNC Certificate/SAIS MA '18

Monday, December 4, 2017

Writing Your Hopkins-Nanjing Center Personal Statement

It's hard to overstate the importance of your personal statement as part of your application to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. This is a valuable opportunity to let the Admissions Committee get to know you as more than test scores, transcripts, and a resume. Applicants to all of our programs (Certificate, MAIS, and the HNC Certificate/SAIS MA) are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application:

How do you expect Sino-global relations to impact your future, and how do you believe your time at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center will assist you in achieving your long-term career objectives?

Here are few tips to keep in mind as you write your personal statement.

1) Answer the prompt. It may seem obvious, but some students submit personal statements that don’t fully answer the personal statement prompt. Review your essay and make sure that your essay clearly answers all parts of the prompt. It’s okay if you don’t have a five-year career plan! The Admissions Committee is looking to see that you have thought out how you see the HNC as an essential piece of your future plans.

2) Offer clarifications. The personal statement is an opportunity to address any irregularities or other points of clarification on your application - whether it’s lower grades during your freshman year, a gap year you took after high school, if you are planning to improve your Chinese over the summer, if your major is outside of the Asian Studies/China studies field, or anything else that the Admissions Committee should be aware of when reviewing your application. Students can be hesitant to bring attention to these areas, but keep in mind that the Admissions Committee will take note of it. It’s better to address it upfront and provide the Admissions Committee with more information when reviewing your application.

3) Be specific.  Applicants with the best essays give concrete examples of what motivated them to continue studying China and Chinese and why they want to study at the HNC. The HNC is a unique program, so we are interested in learning specifically why you are applying to the HNC and how it will benefit your future career goals. Vague generalizations will not help you stand apart from other applicants. Don’t just tell us why you want to attend graduate school, but instead tailor your essay to highlight why you want to attend the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.

4) Be memorable.  Tell us about your experiences in a creative way, rather than just rewriting your resume in paragraph form.  For example, one past applicant wrote about lessons he learned by playing ping-pong with a Chinese classmate. Another explained her interest in public health through her interactions with Chinese citizens at a rural clinic. Other students highlight how their work or internship experiences exposed them to a certain issue that they want to learn more about at the HNC. Not everything is learned in the classroom!

5) Avoid clichés. For example, one of the most common clichés we encounter every single year involves applicants writing that they hope to attend the HNC so they can become a "bridge" between China and the US. It may be true and it's a noble cause, but this statement doesn’t let the Admissions Committee know specifically why you want to study at the HNC. Get specific and write from your own experiences.

In addition to this personal statement, MAIS applicants are required to write a concentration essay. For this essay, we ask that you choose one of the five concentrations offered in Nanjing: International Economics, International Politics, Comparative and International Law, Chinese Studies, or Energy, Resources, and Environment.  You then will be prompted to write about your thesis idea(s).  Don't worry though! You will not be locked into this topic so it is completely fine if you arrive in Nanjing and decide on a new one. This is more an opportunity for the Admissions Committee to see that you have a particular area of interest related to China and that you have put thought into potential research topics. While you are free to write about more than one topic in this essay, please keep in mind that it is a short essay at only 500 words. Listing off a multitude of different research ideas can show a lack of focus to the Admissions Committee, so it’s often better to limit yourself to one or two topics max.

Last but not least, HNC Certificate/SAIS MA applicants should submit three essays total: the HNC Personal Statement, the DC Statement of Purpose, and the DC Analytical Essay.  We often receive questions about the amount of overlap between the HNC Personal Statement and the DC Statement of Purpose. You should assume that the admissions committees of each campus have access to all three essays but still include any relevant information in each, even if it does mean a bit of overlap. While the analytical essay should be related to international relations or economics, it doesn’t need to be related to China if that’s not your intended concentration area at SAIS.

We look forward to reading your essays!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Five things I wish I’d known about the HNC application process

I’m student blogger Anna Woods, currently studying at SAIS DC in the SAIS MA part of the HNC Certificate/SAIS MA program. Some of the following points apply to all HNC applicants, while others are specifically to do with the HNC Certificate/SAIS MA application process. I hope they can be of use to prospective applicants!


1. There may be more outside funding than you might think.

It pays to look beyond HNC fellowships when funding your time at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. China’s growing importance is something that organisations and governments around the world are increasingly recognising in the funding they give out. Hence, it’s a great idea to do some individual research for opportunities you might be eligible for. Terms for different fellowships vary, but it may be the case that master’s fellowships will fund the MAIS or HNC Certificate/SAIS MA programs, or study abroad scholarships will fund the HNC Certificate. I received a New Zealand Government Prime Minister’s Scholarship to Asia that provided funding for the HNC Certificate, which was extremely helpful in enabling me to come to the HNC.

Another useful avenue for funding can be to request information from your undergraduate university. Sometimes funding may be poorly publicised, and so speaking to someone in the know can shed light on various opportunities that you can apply for.

Another source of funding can be through local institutions. Thanks to a family friend who alerted me, I successfully applied for a youth funding grant from my local Community Development Board. This wasn’t something specifically targeted at studying abroad or China, but I was able to successfully demonstrate the positive impact my study would have on my local community after I returned, having gained a deep understanding of the Chinese language, people, and culture.

2. A summer Chinese program is worth considering.

I worked in between graduating and coming to the HNC so a language program was never something I had put any thought to. However, after arriving at the HNC, I slightly envied my classmates who had participated in CET program or the like – several had made friends with each other while in the program together, which made the transition to the HNC that bit easier since they came in knowing people. Additionally, the time they had spent practising and polishing their Chinese in the preceding months made for a smoother adjustment to listening and contributing in our graduate level classes. Hence, while Chinese language programmes may be a requirement for students whose STAMP test scores are below the recommended level, it can be a good idea for students who have met the language requirement to also consider coming to China early for a language program.


3. The difference between the HNC Personal Statement and the SAIS MA Statement of Purpose


All students write the HNC personal statement as part of their HNC application. If you are applying for the HNC Certificate/SAIS MA program like I was, you also need to write a SAIS MA Statement of Purpose, and an analytical essay.

In regards to the difference between the HNC personal statement and the SAIS MA personal statement, at first glance they seemed almost identical, both requiring you to explain your background, experiences and future goals. It took me a while to understand that they were not the same essay, and that I better not recycle sections (a big no-no!)

The SAIS MA statement of purpose is something all SAIS DC MA students have to write, so there is much less of a focus on China, instead you should focus on previous work experience, undergraduate qualifications and economics expertise. This contrasts with the HNC Personal Statement which needs to demonstrate why you’re interested in China and how studying at the HNC will further your career goals. When I wrote my HNC statement, I discussed the signing of the China-NZ FTA (the first free trade agreement China signed with a developed country) as being a motivating factor in my decision to study Chinese.

As for the analytical essay, while it is not restricted to a certain type of topic, it ought to have relevance to international relations or economics, and helps to be related to your intended concentration. Again, no need to be related to China if that’s not your intended concentration – this is for the SAIS MA portion of the application, and will not be directly affecting your admission to the HNC.

4. You don’t HAVE to choose China Studies as your SAIS MA concentration


(Though I did.) But I think this is something important to highlight as I think it can be confusing when applying, as to how central China Studies needs to be to your degree. In fact, while you will obviously be speaking and learning in Chinese at the HNC, there is the opportunity to pick up requirements in other concentrations via the English classes on offer. Then, once you arrive at SAIS, all 19 concentrations are on offer. This has meant that some of my classmates, who had originally declared their concentration as China Studies when applying, ended up switching to a concentration such as ERE (Energy, Resources and the Environment) or IPE (International Political Economy). For me, I was happy to stick with China Studies as it fits my future goals well, but for people who may want to go into energy, security or other such fields after graduation, choosing a concentration which will train you in these areas may be the right choice.

5. The Admissions team is your most valuable resource

Not to blow our own trumpet, but if you’re like I was and find yourself getting stumped in the minutiae of requirements and steps of the application process (it’s a lot), and just can’t find the answer on the HNC website or this blog, emailing or contacting the HNC Washington Office is probably your best bet to clarify. Graduate school applications can be stress-inducing and rather than stew and agonise, it’s best to simply reach out to ask about the thing that’s got you muddled. I ended up emailing extensively with the Admissions team and they definitely eased my application process anxieties and helped me understand what certain requirements entailed. They can also help with letters and documentation, for example, I needed proof of my enrolment in order to put undergraduate student loan repayments on hold while I was studying overseas. This was something that a quick email was able to quickly solve.



Written by Anna Woods, HNC Certificate/SAIS MA '18

Monday, November 27, 2017

Day in the Life of an HNC Student - Emily Rivera

 7:45 a.m –  I wake up and scurry over to Skyways to grab a morning coffee. If you purchase a coffee before noon, your purchase includes a free baked good (croissants, muffins, and even gluten free options are available!)

Skyways Bakery 云中食品店

8:15 a.m. – I settle into the library and finish legal research for a Moot Court meeting I have later this afternoon.

9:50 a.m. – On Fridays, my only class is History and Philosophy of Law in the West: Critical Thinking and Legal Reasoning, my only English course this semester. Professor Simon hands back our papers on human nature and finishes his lecture on the topic of the week: Constructivism.

Walking to the West Building to meet up with my roommate & language partner

11:30 a.m. – I leave class and walk to the West Building to meet my roommate and my language partner. We go to a nearby noodles restaurant that is popular among HNC students. I order 羊肉拉面. During our conversation, I try my best to stick with Chinese and they do the same in English.

12:30 p.m. – Meeting with the Jessup Moot Court Team. I assist with legal research on international law. The legal issue of this year is very interesting and highly relevant to current events.

Mini-course lecture

3:30 p.m. – I sit down for my last class of the day. Technically, I don’t usually have another class on Fridays, but I signed up for a mini-course this weekend called Creating Good: Entrepreneurs for the Environment. Mini-courses are a unique aspect of the HNC. Mini-courses are short courses taught by outside expert scholars and are intended to provide HNC students with an enrichment experience outside the normal curriculum.

Left: 红烧牛肉面 at靖 Right: 鸡腿现烤 at 靖

6:30 p.m. – Class is over so I head to 靖 for dinner. This is my favorite close-by Chinese restaurant and only a 1 minute walk away. Every dish is fresh and tastes like a home-cooked meal. My favorite dish is their 鸡腿现烤.

8:00 p.m. – I catch up on e-mails, FaceTime my parents, and research law schools.

11:30 p.m. – I’m mysteriously hungry again so I convince some friends to order “外卖” (take-out). We decide on a restaurant called “Spicy Joint.” We talk about our weekend plans and set aside a time next week to watch a Chinese movie: 宋家皇朝.

Written by Emily Rivera, Certificate '18

Friday, November 17, 2017

Exploring China During Fall Break

Through the academic year, HNC students take advantage of mid-autumn, fall and winter breaks to travel around China, intern in China and abroad; and others vacation elsewhere in Asia or return to their home countries to visit family and friends. Emily Rivera, Certificate '18, shares with us her travels to Shanghai over the Mid-Autumn Festival and Chinese National Day earlier this year.

A frequently question asked is: Are there opportunities to travel to nearby cities while studying in Nanjing? Although our main focus at the HNC is of course, our studies, official school breaks do give students ample free time, and some students use this time to explore China. In fact, traveling around China is becoming increasingly more convenient. To travel, you can choose from several modes of transportation including the 高铁 (fast train), which is the quickest option. During the break, some students stayed at the HNC, while others traveled to neighboring cities.

Our travel group at a delicious spicy-food / hot pot restaurant

I went with a group of friends to Shanghai, which seemed to be a popular destination this year. While we were there, we met up with other HNC students. As soon we got to Shanghai, we began to explore the city.

中山公园 is located in Shanghai’s Changning District

One of our first stops was 中山公园, a beautiful, scenic park that had a Central Park feel to it –although there was a small shop selling 手抓饼, so it was even better. Families gathered at the park to enjoy the beautiful weather. We ended up making new friends with 3 young boys and began a friendly game of soccer.

Our group pictured with our 小朋友’s after our soccer gam

Other stops included 田子坊, the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre, the Bund, the French Concession, and more. We even had a chance to sneak in Chinese massages (中医按摩).

Because we are students, admission to the Museum was free!

My favorite museum of the trip was the Shanghai World Expo Museum. Before this trip, I did not know the entire history of World Expos. What was so great about this museum in particular was that the entire museum was focused on the history of World Expos since 1851, when they began in London, until the latest one in 2010 in Shanghai.

Jing’an Temple at night

Jing’an Temple, literally “Temple of Peace and Tranquility” is a well-known Buddhist temple in Shanghai that was originally built in 247 AD. The temple was our last visit of the trip. We were lucky to be able to see Jing’an both during the day and at night.

After several days, we headed back to the HNC on the 高铁. Relaxed, rejuvenated, and grateful for some time off, we felt ready to dive back into our studies. It was nice to have time to explore other cities.




Written by Emily Rivera, Certificate '18

Monday, November 13, 2017

From Nanjing to DC, The HNC Connection Continues

As if the HNC wasn’t already special enough, another of the unique characteristics of your time in Nanjing is that almost every student rooms with another of the different culture. In this blog post, I wanted to write about my personal experience of living with my roommate Ning Xinyuan 宁心源. While our experience can’t count for everyone’s (people are different, and we all have varying dynamics) I thought it would be helpful to provide an example of what this was really like in practice.
A photo of our room from the very first week

The first step in my roommate journey was the online form I filled out in May of 2016, a couple of months after finding out I had been accepted to the HNC. There are questions about your habits and personality and sections to describe your sleeping schedule and to mention if you mind having a roommate who snores (!) (I don’t remember what I picked, but luckily for me Xinyuan did not snore, haha).

The thing that amazed us both on the very first day we met was how tailor made we were for each other – it was like we had magicked each other up out of our descriptions. Xinyuan fit all of mine and more that I wouldn’t have thought to ask for: she was an economics major which thrilled this econ nerd, and was the oldest of three kids, just like me. It’s sweet to look back at my hopes for what activities I would do with my roommate, since I can confirm now that we did indeed do all of these things.

At the beginning, it was great to have Xinyuan helping me set up things like my bank account and phone plan, as well as going to meals and orientation activities together. We hung out with our neighbors on the first floor of the dorm and had fun exploring Nanjing and going to yummy restaurants. I tried to focus my friend making energies on Xinyuan and our Chinese neighbors at the start, because I knew I would end up making lovely international friends just through virtue of living in the same place and having classes together. Hence, I wanted to be sure I was getting to know my Chinese classmates really well and building a good relationship with my roommate.

Eating dinner at our favorite Sichuan noodle joint
Some traditions we created over the year were leaving each other little treats on our desks, having sweet chats while lying on our beds during an afternoon rest or before falling asleep, and having a fairly regular Friday night dinner date at a Sichuan noodle shop (where we always ordered spicy vegetarian mixian and langya tudou, delicious cold slices of potato in a spicy mala dressing).

Improving in our target language was a big priority for the both of us, so we tried to talk in both and help the other with grammar and vocabulary. We practiced presentations and corrected pronunciation: for example, when Xinyuan was asked to deliver an introduction in English for a visiting speaker, she got me to read out the introduction to her as if I was the one presenting, so she could hear what words to stress so as to make it sound the most natural and polished possible. Likewise, when I was working on my presentation for my econometrics class, it was to Xinyuan I turned to ensure the Chinese words I had found matched up with the specific terminology I was referring to.

Xinyuan writing calligraphy
Of course, you can’t be serious all the time, certainly not these two bouncy, giggly girls, and so we had great fun playing with language too. I giggled as I listened to her speaking in her dialect with her family back in Shanxi on the phone, so growly and wild sounding compared with the precise standard Mandarin she spoke at the HNC. She was entertained by my sassy conversations with my sister, and was initially surprised by my habit of ending phone calls with “love you!” thinking it was overly demonstrative. When I used my New Zealand slang, she would try to adopt it. However, as much as I loved the thought of her spouting about jandals, lollies and paddocks, I had to caution her that the majority of English speakers she would be talking to would not understand her meaning! I did have fun though telling her pop culture English, and it always gave me such a thrill to hear her say it in the right context. For example, the line “started from the bottom now we’re here” from Drake’s song. I explained the meaning to her, and months later, after we got some good grades back in the second semester, Xinyuan proudly announced it. It was perfect.


At our commencement ceremony, a true “started from the bottom now we’re here” moment

When we left Nanjing, we each gave the other a present of calligraphy: mine in English, hers in Chinese. It was a common hobby of ours that we loved to do as a break from classes. Xinyuan’s calligraphy scroll is currently hanging on display on the wall in my bedroom in DC, and she has informed me mine is on display on her desk in her Beijing dorm. It’s a special way we can continue to have the other’s presence in our room, even as we live in different countries and time zones. I don’t know the next time we will see each other, but I know we’ll always be in touch some way or another, thanks to the profound influence we had on each other’s lives during that special year in Nanjing.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

“Creating Good: Entrepreneurs for the Environment” Mini-Course at the HNC

If you’ve never thought about soda cans sitting on the ocean floor, or how the fish you may have eaten yesterday used to feed on small, toxic plastic pieces that float throughout oceanic water columns, neither did most of us attending Doug Woodring’s three-day ERE mini-course at Hopkins-Nanjing Center, “Creating Good: Entrepreneurs for the Environment”. A SAIS/Wharton graduate and a resident of Hong Kong for the last 20 years, Doug shared with us his past successes, present endeavors, and future aspirations regarding the monumental task of reducing global plastic pollution -- and how we, as potential entrepreneurs, could do the same.

 Director and Co-Founder of the Ocean Recovery Alliance, Mr. Woodring inspired us to think about how plastic products and related services can be changed to reduce plastic footprints through design alterations and publicity, and how by imagining areas of constructive conflict between brands and creatively challenging businesses to embrace social responsibility, we can realize positive change. Some of the current projects that he and the Ocean Recovery Alliance have partnered with, such as the My Little Plastic Footprint app (beta now available) and the Plastic Soup Foundation (see thought-provoking video) served as tangible and provocative examples of how to stimulate action and awareness regarding the plastic problem we all are facing.

Despite the severity of the pollution tragedy that is unfolding upon our land, rivers, and seas, Mr. Woodring’s mini-course drove home the optimistic idea that there is still much work that must and can be done to expand human economic activity into the realms of environmental rehabilitation and recovery. Though there were only three days to explore the problems and solutions surrounding plastic, the weekend was one of productive engagement and reflection that informed the environmentalist and business-minded alike, even breaking down the barrier between the two and showing how both outlooks are essential for a healthy ecology of future entrepreneurship.

Written by Nick Manthey, MAIS '19

Friday, November 3, 2017

2017 HNC Halloween Party

Last week, the HNC held its annual Halloween party (万圣节派对). A yearly tradition, the party gives students the opportunity to spend time with their peers and faculty members, as well as the opportunity to meet students studying at other universities in Nanjing. HNC’s student-elected banwei (班委) traditionally coordinates the party. Made up of two international students and two Chinese students, the banwei act as the student representatives of the HNC student body. Besides working as the student-faculty liaison, the banwei also has the fun job of planning parties and events throughout the year, including the Halloween party, Christmas party, and end of the year BBQ!

The banquet hall before the festivities began!

My favorite part of the party was the fact that this was many of the Chinese students’ first time celebrating Halloween and attending a Halloween party! Here is what some of the Chinese students had to say about their Halloween experiences:

"The Chinese students were really excited to attend the party and do a lot of preparation, such as carefully choosing and buying the costumes and spending a lot of time doing their make-up!" – 陈娟玲

"特别开心第一次参加万圣节party,是一个从未有过的新鲜体验。我想以后我会十分怀念中心,怀念那年和你们一起度过的第一个万圣节” –  刘松月

"I loved the party, the decorations were great!"– 肖玲


Left: 杨荣骞 &毛婷婷dress up for their first Halloween! Photo courtesy of 黄葵. 胡天on the right as Superman
Pawel Chrzanowski, a first-year HNC Certificate student, joined the volunteer decorating committee formed by banwei. Four students – two international students and two Chinese students – volunteered to help plan and put up the decorations for the party. It took a lot of planning, but after speaking with Pawel, it was clear it was definitely worth it.

Why did you decide to volunteer for the decorating committee? What was your favorite part of the entire process?

Pawel: That’s easy, I’ve always enjoyed setting up parties. I love visualizing the space for a party, coming up with a plan, executing it, and then seeing the happy celebratory reactions. My favorite part, and what I’m most proud of, is that we tripled the funds that were given to last year’s decorating committee. The banwei gave us an initial budget, but after very kind donations from the students themselves, we were able to triple our budget. It showed the type of community that we have at the HNC, where everyone tries to contribute. I also really enjoyed working with the Chinese students. Our collaboration was awesome and we were so much more efficient with their help, for example they facilitated the transactions with sellers on Taobao.

 Pictured from left to right: 陈娟玲, Kimya Nia, 代攀红, 杨训琪 and Emily Rivera
The HNC Band – Savage Cabbages – was one of the highlights of the night. I had a chance to speak to three band members who shared their Savage Cabbages experience. Margie Tanner, one of the singers and a second year MAIS student, said this was her second year participating in the band. Margie explained that this year the band decided on a “haunted” theme when choosing which songs to play. These included: Haunted, Don’t Fear the Reaper, Toxic, Thriller, Uptown Funk, and 当然, and the Monster Mash. Here is what Margie, Daniel Burke, first year Certificate student and guitarist in the band, and 苏梦菲, second year Chinese MAIS student and bassist in the band, had to say about the Halloween party and their performance.

What did you think of the party? Did you have a favorite part of the performance?

Margie: This year, we had a lot of internal organization within the band so we were very organized, which was really cool. I’m glad we were able to continue the band this year, as the band is also an HNC tradition. It’s great - it makes me feel really good when I’m able to sing and everyone in the band loves making music, so it’s fun to get together and just jam. There’s a lot of diversity this year, in people and in instruments, which is also great.

Margie Tanner pictured on stage with the HNC band playing for the crowd. Photo by丁子倩
苏梦菲 (Maya): I learned to play the bass guitar right before the HNC Halloween party last year and it was the first musical instrument that I’ve ever learned to play. I felt pretty nervous this year before I stood on stage even though it has been the third time that I perform in front of a large group of people. But after I tuned my bass, everything seemed all right to me because I really enjoy playing bass and it was my last Halloween here at the center. The audience seemed to enjoy the songs, which made me so happy!

Daniel: The performance was so much fun! As we were playing, I remember looking up and thinking it was awesome to see my friends in the audience jamming out to our songs. Plus, everyone in the audience was dancing along. We couldn’t have asked for a better audience.

After speaking with several students and faculty, one thing was clear: The annual HNC Halloween party tradition must go on!

Written by Emily Rivera, Certificate '18