Monday, May 21, 2018

Final Thoughts on my HNC Certificate/Johns Hopkins SAIS MA Experience

With graduation just around the corner for students in DC, Anna Woods, HNC Certificate/Johns Hopkins SAIS MA ’18, reflects back on her experience studying in Nanjing and DC.  

As I write this post, the clock is ticking down on my graduate school experience. It’s hard to believe that I’m nearing graduation already and that two years of challenging, enriching study are behind me (and that I’m about to get a master’s degree on my resume!)

For my last piece on the blog, I thought it would be nice to reflect back on what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown along the way during my time at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and the Johns Hopkins SAIS campus in DC.

On rising to the occasion…
I’ve been astonished to observe how quickly I have been able to rise to the occasion when called for. This definitely applies to the steep learning curve that we always talk about regarding taking graduate level classes in Chinese at the HNC, but it is also super applicable to my classes in DC. It felt so intimidating to contribute and answer questions, especially at the beginning before I knew my professors and fellow classmates. However, within weeks at the HNC and at SAIS, I grew in confidence and could offer my reflections and opinions no matter how complex the topic. (It helped when I realized that the other people in the room weren’t expecting perfection, but rather just good preparation and some intellectual curiosity.)

On once in a lifetime opportunities…
I’m so appreciative of all the situations that I could never have imagined I’d be placed in, which were entirely thanks to my being a student of the HNC and SAIS. Meeting US Ambassador to China Max Baucus, going to the Barnett-Oksenberg Lecture with former US Defense Secretary William Perry and Major General Yao Yunzhu in Shanghai, interviewing amazing people and getting to hear their insights for the SAIS Observer and this very blog, visiting top Canadian policymakers on a SAIS study trip, and much more all come to mind. And due to all those challenging classes, I was prepared and poised when I did end up in those situations, since I had context and knowledge to draw on.

On critical thinking skills...
Something that surprised me about graduate school initially was the much increased complexity of the material: so much information to wade through and many different scholarly points of view to balance. As an undergraduate, it often falls on you to master the entirety of the content to then be tested on in the final exam – every detail should be retained and it is all equally valid. At the HNC and SAIS, the emphasis was so much more on critical thinking, and we were not required or even expected to remember every bit of information. Rather, it was all about forming an understanding of the overall concept. This did call for a pretty big change in approach and way of thinking about what I was learning. Now that I’m at the end of the experience, it’s clear how developed my critical thinking skills have become, even in my second language of Chinese!

On the people…
Finally, the most valuable aspect of my whole experience has to be of the kindness and willingness to help I have encountered throughout my whole experience, from early days communicating with the admissions team to meeting my sweet HNC roommate on my first day there, to the HNC’s dear career counselor Robbie Shields, who was helpful and supportive of all my career hopes and applications, to the wonderful alumni who met with me over the phone and in real life, to my professors at both institutions who have been sources of guidance, mentorship and encouragement, and to my classmates who I now count among my closest friends. It’s clear why the HNC and SAIS alumni are renowned for being an incredibly tight-knit network. All those positive, supportive interactions yield a strong desire to give back, be that through mentoring a current student, reaching within the network to publicize a great job opening, or eventually donating to either institution. I know that I’ll be a very proud alumna of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and Johns Hopkins SAIS and I will be sure to carry on the tradition of helping others throughout my career.

Written by Anna Woods, Certificate '17/Johns Hopkins SAIS MA '18

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Student Life: The Xianlin Half-Marathon

Amanda Bogan, MAIS ’18, shares her experience participating in the Xianlin Half-Marathon held in Nanjing. She and a group of students represented the HNC and encouraged each other throughout the race. 
Last weekend a group of HNC students participated in the Xianlin Half-Marathon, a 21 kilometer run held in the scenic outskirts of Nanjing. The group was made up of 17 HNC students, both long-time running enthusiasts and first-time race participants alike. What’s more, all HNC participants enjoyed free registration for the race thanks to the organization efforts of the HNC’s own experienced marathon runner, the wonderful Anneliese Gegenheimer, HNC Certificate ‘18/SAIS MA ‘19.

Although I started running several years ago, this half-marathon was my first time participating in an official organized running event. As one of the less experienced runners in our group, I was particularly glad to be running my first real race with a group of my HNC classmates. Not only did I feel more motivated to get out and go running in the training weeks leading up to the big day, but when the day did arrive, there was a real sense of comradery that made it much easier to wake up at 6:00am on a Saturday and ride the subway for an hour to the site of the marathon.

Once we arrived at the location, after hydrating and snapping a few pre-race photos, we all lined up at our assigned positions and got ready to run. The Chinese national anthem was played over the speakers, and then the race began. I ran at a slow and steady pace for most of the race, and occasionally other HNC runners would pass me giving me a high-five or a thumbs up. Even other runners who I didn’t know would smile at me and call out “加油!” which helped to keep my spirits up.

Other HNC students who were not participating in the race still came out to cheer on the runners and take photos, while riding bikes alongside the course of the race. It was great to see familiar faces calling out our names along the sidelines and to have friends waiting for us at the finish line. When I finally did reach the finish line (at what I considered a respectable 2 hours 16 minutes) I crossed it together with another HNC classmate—it was the first time for both of us to run a race, and we were elated to have finished.

Although I’m not sure when I will have the chance to run my next official race, I definitely want to again sometime in the near future—either in China or back in the U.S. Until then I’ll have to content myself to runs around campus or out to Xuanwu Lake.

Congratulations again to everyone who participated in last week’s marathon and thanks to all the HNCer’s who came out to cheer us on!

Written by Amanda Bogan, MAIS ‘18
Photo by Mavis Hou

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Faculty Spotlight: Professor Wu Xiaokang

Anna Woods, Certificate ’17, MA ’18, had an opportunity to speak with Professor Wu Xiaokang, who teaches international economics at the HNC. Professor Wu is currently a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins SAIS in Washington, DC. This interview was conducted in Chinese and is presented here in translation. 

Wu Xiaokang is a Nanjing University professor who teaches international economics courses at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. He has spent the 2017-18 academic year at Johns Hopkins SAIS as a Visiting Nanjing Scholar, which enabled him to sit in on classes and focus on his own research. He recently published an article titled “Neighbors, Information Spillover and Firms' Import” with fellow HNC professor Han Jian in the Journal of Zhongnan University of Economics and Law. He was also my econometrics professor in the spring of 2017!

Do you have any comments on what it is like to teach at the HNC or the special nature of the institution?
The HNC is a bilingual institution. Different languages means different cultures. Through shared experiences, people end up understanding each other. I think we could do an analysis of this by surveying a group of Americans and Chinese [outside the HNC], and then surveying a group of HNC students, and comparing their views on the China-U.S. trade dispute. You would find that ordinary Chinese people would say yes, let’s get into a trade war with the U.S., let’s boycott their products. The impact on the U.S. is of no concern—that is their attitude towards the U.S. If you spoke with HNC students, however, both sides would support holding negotiations to solve the issue. I think that when students leave the HNC, they come out not just concerned with U.S. national interests or Chinese national interests. They care about what is good for China-U.S. relations. The biggest benefit of the HNC in my opinion is that it breaks down preconceived beliefs and ideology. I also really appreciate the fact that professors from different academic backgrounds all work there together. Usually in China different academic departments are all very independent from each other. This gives HNC students a superior advantage, as they can evaluate issues from multiple perspectives. This allows them to be more objective about an issue than if they are looking at it from the perspective of one academic discipline.

What opportunities have you been able to take advantage of while in residence in DC?
One of the most valuable things has actually been sitting in on economics classes at SAIS. Last semester, I attended an econometrics class and an international trade class, which have been valuable in seeing how the professors teach the material. I was a brand new economics professor when I began at the HNC, and the chance to attend Professor John Harrington’s econometrics class at SAIS, which he has been teaching for more than 20 years, is really valuable in seeing how he helps the students understand the concepts. Dr. Pravin Krishna, who taught the class on international trade, was also very impressive.

What research have you been working on here in DC?
I have been working on regional trade agreements (RTA). The first aspect I’m researching is the utilization rate. We want to see how trade increases after RTAs are established. If we look at the issue from a micro perspective, we see that firms will not necessarily use preferential trade policies because they involve costs, like the cost of certifying that their products were produced within a certain region.

This is especially complicated nowadays with the prevalence of global value chains. We run into the issue of an “information cemetery,” where the firm itself knows the amount of value added and what components are coming from abroad. However, the process of certifying it for government approval is arduous in terms of time and money. So, ultimately, the problem is such that the firm may qualify for the preferential tariff that lowers costs, but the process of qualifying for it also incurs costs. Then firms have to make a choice according to their cost benefit analysis. This research shows that, while countries tend to think about trade policy without understanding the micro decisions of individual firms, the question has to be whether these firms are going to actually use the preferential tariffs. The other aspect I research is what kinds of effects these RTAs bring about in terms of trade diversion versus trade creation.

Is this your first time living in the USA? How has it differed from your expectations?
It’s interesting, because growing up in China, we start learning English from a young age, compared with Western students who don’t start learning Chinese perhaps until college. To help with that, we watch American movies, listen to American music, and we feel like we know America, but in fact I think we actually have very little understanding of America. Moving here was very different from my expectations. Communicating and exchanging views in English was challenging for me at the beginning.

Interview by Anna Woods, HNC Certificate/Johns Hopkins SAIS MA ‘18

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The HNC Annual Photo Contest

For the last two years, the HNC has held an annual photo contest. Students submit their best photos from studying at the HNC, living in Nanjing, traveling during school breaks, or visiting home. Winning photos are selected from the following categories: Best Travel Photo, Most Thought-Provoking, Most Beautiful, Most Creative, Most “HNC”, and Best Overall. Check out the winning photos from this year below! 

Best Photo, Stephanie Gruetze, Certificate '18

 新年龙 New Year’s Dragon in 江西 

 Best Photo, Edmund Xu, MAIS '18
Hard work on a snowy day

 Most “HNC”, Joy Joy Yang, Certificate '18
 Music knows no boundaries. Nathan Hsu and Daniel Burke filling the HNC courtyard with the sound of music.

 Most Beautiful, Hou Congrui, Certificate '18
“仲春梅花山下的爱情/ Love of Plum Blossom Hill in Mid-Spring”,摄于中美中心集体前往梅花山观景途中

Most Thought-Provoking , Shubham Karmakar, Certificate '18
Street Art? No. As we say rules are meant to be broken. The four Chinese characters are jointly requesting not to park any vehicle there. And the rest is shown.  A public wall can become a painting – big black ideograms that stain the yellow face of a building. And a public bicycle on it can turn into an (unconscious) act of rebellion.
街头艺术? 不是。众所周知,规则是打算被打破的。 这四个汉字共同要求不要在那里停放任何车辆。并且,我们可以看到公共墙成为了一幅油画 - 大黑图,造成了建筑物的黄色表面上的斑斑。不过, 一辆公共自行车可能会变成一种无意识叛逆行为的代表。

Most Thought-Provoking, Caroline Yarber, MAIS '18 
Hiroshima A-Bomb Dome--73 years ago the first nuclear weapon used in war was detonated 600 meters above this building. With regional tensions at a high point, it's more important than ever to remember the catastrophic potential of nuclear war.
原爆圆顶馆。 73年前,第一枚核武器在该建筑物上方300米处引爆。 随着地区紧张局势的上升,记住核战争的灾难性潜力比以往任何时候都更加重要。

Best Travel Photo, Eli Tirk, MAIS '18
Taken from the halfway point to Roy's Peak near Wanaka. This was an excellent view of the bluest glacial lakes I have ever seen.

Most Creative, Joy Joy Yang, Certificate '18
Reading for 当代中国对外政策课 is important. But getting the HNC basketball jersey ready for the next game is just as important. Happy Laundry Hour!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Moot Court at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center

Student blogger Alexandra Hansen introduces the HNC moot court teams and reflects on her experience competing.

HNC students (left of center) pose with a competing team and a panel of judges after the first round of the Price Monroe Media Law Moot Court Competition.

This past semester, I had the privilege of taking part in the Price Monroe Media Law Moot Court Competition. Prior to coming to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center (HNC), I had never heard about moot court. However, after an informative lecture held by Professor Thomas Simon, I was excited to get involved in an activity that would challenge me to develop my critical thinking and public speaking skills.

Moot court is a popular activity here at the HNC. For those who are not familiar with its protocol, moot court is usually a law school activity and competition during which students participate in preparing and arguing international law cases in front of judges. Each moot court competition focuses on a different aspect of law and requires students to prepare a complete memo (with a legal foundation) as well as prepare for a verbal argument against an opposing team. At the beginning of the year, interested students interview for the various competitions, and teams are made of both Chinese and international students.

This year the HNC had three teams take part in moot court competitions including the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, Price Monroe Media Law Moot Court Competition, and Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court. These three moot court competitions focus on different aspects of international law. Jessup, the world’s largest moot court competition, focuses on a fictional dispute between countries before the International Court of Justice. Price focuses on international media law disputes, and Vis focuses on international commercial arbitration cases. The final rounds for each moot court team take place in three different countries, the United States (Washington D.C.), England (Oxford), and Austria (Vienna) respectively.

While none of the HNC moot court teams qualified to compete in the international rounds this year, students enjoyed the process. Emily Rivera (HNC Certificate ’18), a member of the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition explained that, “…my experience has been great! The topic is very interesting this year and highly relevant in the international public law arena.” Likewise, Deniz Cem Ozensoy (MAIS ’19) reflected positively on his involvement in the Price Monroe Media Law Moot Court and commented that the competition was “pretty fun, [and] the judges are really cool. I enjoyed the competition quite a lot, more so than preparing for it probably.” I also found the competition portion to be the most invigorating part of the moot court experience. As an oralist I enjoyed speaking in front of the judges and arguing my team’s side of the case.

I encourage any prospective students with interest in law (or developing public speaking or research skills) to get involved. Although taking part in moot court was incredibly time-consuming, and at many times challenging, it was a great experience. I left the competition in Beijing very proud of my team!

Written by Alexandra Hansen, HNC Certificate '18

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Faculty Spotlight: Professor Zhang Haiyan

Last week I sat down with one of my favorite professors here at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, Professor Zhang (张海燕). Professor Zhang teaches China’s Development & Environment, as well as a new course this semester called Environmental-Economic System Analysis, a class where students can quantitatively analyze environmental issues from the perspective of system analysis. We spoke about her background in environmental science, her experience working at the HNC, and the importance of studying the global environment.

 1) 首先请您介绍一下您在中美中心教什么课?
我现在在中美中心教两门课。第一门是在秋季学期的 “中国的发展与环境” (China’s Development and Environment)。这是一门给大家介绍中国在发展过程中面临的资源、能源和环境问题的课程,也是中国学课程的一门。这门课在介绍环境管理学基础理论、中国环境监管体系和基本环境政策的基础上,分八个专题深入讨论不同的环境问题,比如城镇化的环境影响、污染转移等。目前,我正在开的新课叫“环境经济系统分析” (Environmental-Economic System Analysis)。这是一门环境政策分析的基础方法课程,介绍大家可能会用到环境政策分析的方法。比如说生态足迹 (ecological footprint)、碳足迹 (carbon footprint)核算、环境影响的的驱动力分析和环境风险分析等等。我希望通过该课程的学习为学生提供系统分析环境问题的toolbox。

2) 接下来,您可以介绍个人研究背景,研究兴趣。您是如何来到中美中心?
我是南京大学本科毕业,学的是环境化学(Environmental Chemistry)。本科学习期间我觉得环境问题的解决更需要宏观层面上的环境管理。所以,我研究生期间在南京大学环境学院念的是环境规划与管理 (Environmental Planning & Management)。2007年,我去美国的 Rutgers University Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, 念公共政策的博士。2013年,我回到了南京大学环境学院工作。2014年,中美中心第一次开设ERE课程。当时,中美中心请环境学院的毕军教授指导设置中方ERE 方向的curriculum。所以,2014年秋季学期我和毕军教授一起来在中心教“中国的发展与环境”这门课。2016年,中美中心有一个ERE方向副教授的 job opening。因为我特别喜欢中心的教学和研究氛围,我就申请了这边的工作并很荣幸的成为了中心ERE方向的副教授.

3) 我也想问,作为老师,您最喜欢的是哪部分?是教学,研究等等?

其实,各有各自的乐趣。教学的时候,我特别喜欢中美中心的学生。中美中心学生的背景非常多元,他们来自不同的国家,学习不同的学科,所以他们在课堂上会有很多很有趣的互动跟讨论。中心的学生学习非常主动。我很喜欢中心的学生给我 ”assign reading“。我觉得这是一件很有趣,很有挑战的事情。研究也很有趣,科研可以 focus 在一个领域,针对感兴趣的现实问题寻找令人满意的答案的研究过程是一件很有乐趣的事情。所以,我最近在环境经济系统分析的课程上也给大家分享一些我正在做的研究,我正在通过环境经济系统分析的方法来研究中国居民饮食消费所面临的环境与健康双方面的挑战。

4) 教国际学生的过程中您觉得有没有什么特别的困难?

5) 研究领域为能源政策与环境政策分析以及环境社会治理的公众参与。为什么您觉得学生们应该学习全球环境(ERE)? 你认为更多学生愿意选择上这样的课吗?


6) 近年来,中国实行了很多关于环境政策,您认为中国在全球环境治理上可以作为领导者吗?

7) 那,您对准备来中美中心的学生有什么建议吗?

8) 您还有其他看法吗?
我觉得中美中心的学生都特别棒。上课的时候,学生会present很多不同的话题。比如共享单车和外卖点餐的环境影响、核电安全问题、中国“一带一路”政策对巴基斯坦的环境影响、妇女在应对气候变化中的作用等。不同的文化和学科背景使中心的学生对环境问题的分析都很独特、全面、深入。所以,在中美中心,你能从你的老师和你的同学那边学到很多东西。中心也为学生提供很多考察环境问题和中国环境管理现状的机会。去年秋天,中心的Raufer教授带领学生去北京、上海和深圳展开“Energy Tour”的考察。一些学生回来后对 blockchain对中国碳市场和能源系统的影响很感兴趣,就和Raufer教授开展了相关的研究。我觉得中美中心的学生真的很amazing。

Written by Emily Rivera, Certificate '18

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Summer Internship in DC

 Amanda Bogan, MAIS '18, shares her experience of interning in D.C. at the Congressional-Executive Commission on China during her summer between her first and second year in Nanjing.  

While studying for my Master’s degree at the HNC, I have access to a wide range of professional development and internship experiences. As a member of the HNC community, I am regularly learning about new work and internship opportunities through the Career Services Center, the HNC alumni network, and casual conversations with classmates about their own experiences. In this post, I’ll be sharing about my experience last summer interning in D.C. with the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), while also giving some advice about finding, applying to and making the most out of any internship opportunity.

I became interested in doing work for the CECC ever since first learning about it from a conversation with the HNC’s Career Counselor, Robbie Shields.  After doing some of my own research on the Commission’s work, I knew I wanted to apply for their summer internship program. As it so happened, a recent HNC alumni and former intern was currently working at the Commission as a research associate and manager of that year’s Annual Report production. I reached out to her by email, expressing my interest in the Commission, and asked about what her experience had been like as an intern for the Commission. From our communications I was able to get a better idea of what kind of responsibilities and assignments I would be given as an intern. This is also an important step in the job or internship application process. Reaching out to people who are either currently working or have previously worked at the position you’re applying to can give you an inside look at an organization’s work values and environment. This will also make you better informed and prepared, both for interviews and for when you (hopefully) begin working there.      

Having thoroughly researched this internship and submitted my application materials, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview by phone, and, eventually, receive an offer to serve as a summer intern. Making the adjustment from life in Nanjing to living in D.C. and working on Capitol Hill took a bit of time, but it helped that I was interning in an office of dedicated China experts who also had extensive experience living, working, and studying in China. When I first started my internship, I was given a personal introduction to each of the portfolios that different research associates are in charge of putting together. They would explain to me one-on-one the scope of their research, the current projects they were working on, and I could ask questions about their work. This was a great way to become more familiar with the work that was being conducted around the office, while also giving me the chance to express interest in helping with certain projects or volunteer for assignments. As an intern, I also had the chance to help with an official Commission hearing chaired by U.S. senators in the Capitol Building (which was especially exciting for me, since it was also my first time visiting our nation’s capitol).

In terms of working in the office, one of my main assignments for the summer was to update and provide new research for the Commission’s Tibet portfolio, which would eventually become a chapter in that year’s Annual Report. Because the research associate who usually oversaw the Tibet portfolio was working out of the office for the summer, I served as her stand-in and took over some of her responsibilities. I was in charge of keeping track of all Tibet-related legal and political developments as reported in U.S. and Chinese news sources and made sure all new information was recorded into the Commission’s database on a daily basis. I also attended events related to the Commission’s mandate in the D.C. area, including a panel of Tibetan scholars who presented their research findings on ongoing political and economic developments in Tibet.

My time spent researching this area for the Commission was particularly interesting as it also built of my background knowledge of Tibetan affairs from my coursework at the HNC. In fact, part of why I was assigned to work on this portfolio is because I had let my supervisor know I had recently wrote a research paper on the modern history of Tibet, and would be interested in contributing to the Commission’s research in this area. In any internship, it generally doesn’t hurt to let whoever is in charge of delegating assignments know what particular areas you’re interested in, what you’d like to learn more about, or if you have a background in a certain area that might be relevant to working on an assignment.

Internships are not only great opportunities to learn more about what kind of work you might want to go into after graduation, they’re also a unique chance to meet people with similar interests and goals. While everyone at the office took their work seriously, we also had time for fun things like interesting conversations during lunch, birthday celebrations in the conference room, and happy hour events after work. Since I was new to D.C., my coworkers would often recommend fun places to go during the weekend and they also quickly filled me in on where all of the decent Chinese restaurants are in the area. One of my favorite places in D.C., Eastern Market, I first discovered on an outing with a fellow research intern who I shared a work-space with and became good friends with. I am still in touch with several of the people I worked with today, and am looking forward to seeing them again if I find myself working in D.C. again this summer.

Written by Amanda Bogan, MAIS '18

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Hiking Xuanwu Lake

Student blogger Emily Rivera, HNC Certificate ’18, writes about her experience hiking around Xuanwu Lake with a local hiking group: 南京徒步爱好群.

Pictured with the hiking group: 南京徒步爱好群.
Before coming to Nanjing, I had an image in my head of what I thought the city might be like. I had studied the history of China and I knew where to find Nanjing on a map, but as the date of my arrival to Nanjing grew closer, I realized I knew very little of the city I would call home for the year. So, I took to the Internet to learn more about Nanjing. During my searches, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that by 2018, as part of a larger project to fight pollution in cities in China, construction on two skyscrapers called the Nanjing Green Towers will be complete.  (Read more about this here).
Another group photo right before breaking for lunch

Nanjing presents a unique opportunity to live in a city surrounded by natural beauty, such as the famous Purple Mountain and Xuanwu Lake. Several weekends ago, my friend found a Chinese hiking group called南京徒步爱好群 on China’s equivalent of a Meetup Group app and we decided to join them for a hike. We woke up at 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday and one hour later, found ourselves at Xuanwu Lake meeting the hiking group for the first time.

Conveniently, Xuanwu Lake is about a twenty-minute walk from the HNC campus. My friends and I have hiked around Xuanwu Lake before, for example, when we completed the Nanjing Walk Marathon earlier in the year and when various friends and relatives have come to visit. Located in the heart of Nanjing and partially surrounded by the City Wall of Nanjing, Xuanwu Lake is the perfect getaway to enjoy a peaceful afternoon of running, walking, riding a bike, or even taking a boat around the beautiful lake.

First-year HNC Certificate students, Kimya Nia (’18), Taylor Roth (’18), and Emily Rivera (’18), with new friends from the hiking group

The morning of our hike was especially beautiful. It was right around when the Fall weather started coming in, which meant the best hiking weather one could ask for – not too cold, not too hot. I’ve experienced Fall and the changing of the leaves before, but there was something particularly exciting about being surrounded by Xuanwu Lake, on our way to meet new hiking friends, all the while making our way to our final destination: the picturesque Purple Mountain.

First-year HNC Certificate student Taylor Roth (’18) takes a photo of the changing tree leaves around Xuanwu Lake

When we arrived, we were warmly greeted by the one leaders of the group, 静翕, who was excited to have us join her and the rest of the group on their hike of the week. That’s right, this group hikes around Nanjing every weekend! Although the majority of them grew up in Nanjing, they told us it’s important to them to get outside and enjoy the beautiful sights that Nanjing offers. While people drift both in and out of the hikes and the group, the two main leaders told us they make sure to hike every single weekend without fail.

Xuanwu Lake is an example of one hiking option in Nanjing, among others. Although HNC students are constantly busy with classes, papers, and presentations, we still find time to explore the beautiful city of Nanjing and enjoy the nice weather whenever possible!

Written by Emily Rivera, Certificate '18

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Reflections on “China and America: A Cross-Cultural Dialogue”

While the HNC offers a great selection of courses taught by stellar faculty, one class particularly stood out during the 2017 fall semester. Student blogger, Alexandra Hansen reflects on her experience in a piloted bilingual taught course, China and America: A Cross Cultural Dialogue (中国与美国:文化对话课).

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center is well known for being a one-of-a-kind graduate center for students pursuing international studies. In line with the HNC’s mission to train graduates in Sino-global relations, the HNC is inherently effective in creating a cross-cultural educational experience. The courses taught at the HNC are varied in discipline, but accomplish the same goal: they inform and guide students in their study of China, the United States, and global relations through target-language curriculum. While I have enjoyed many courses I have taken at the HNC, one in particular has stood out as my favorite: “China and America: A Cross-Cultural Dialogue (中国与美国:文化对话课).”

Part of a series of new experiments in innovative teaching pedagogies at the HNC, this course is one of a few special co-taught, bilingual and cross-cultural classes offered this year. This class covers a range of topics, but mostly circulates around China’s understanding of America, and America’s understanding of China from the mid-1800s to the present day. In order to develop a fully cross-cultural environment, the class was evenly made up of 15 Chinese students and 15 international students.

Two professors collaborated to produce a curriculum that was incredibly engaging and informative. American professor Joe Renouard and Chinese professor Liu Woyu split class time during the week in order to educate students on the changing perspectives between China and America over the last few centuries. Both professors stimulated thought-provoking debates and discussions in class, and encouraged students to seek answers to the questions: In the eyes of Chinese people, what is America and who are the American people?  And in the eyes of Americans, what is China and who are the Chinese people?
 Professor Joe Renouard and Professor Liu Woyu

While many classes offered at the HNC focus on policy, diplomacy and politics, this course focused on the relationship between the ordinary people who comprise the two nations including immigrants, missionaries, traders, tourists, students, and many others. To better understand their perspectives, students enrolled in the class read original sources including diary entries, pamphlets, newspaper articles, and books and watched various films and documentaries. In addition, the class took a field trip to Pearl Buck’s house which is located on Nanjing University’s campus. After reading sections of her Pulitzer Prize winning work, “The Good Earth” it was great to see where she grew up, especially as it was so close to our HNC campus!

By immersing myself in the curriculum, assigned materials, and class discussions, I ended my first semester feeling more equipped to analyze and explore the interpersonal relationships between Chinese and American people. I believe that this course embodies the goals of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. Having taken this bilingual course, which included complete immersion and cross-cultural analysis I finished off my fall semester feeling more confident in my understanding of the historical and current state of US-China relations.

Written by Alexandra Hansen, Certificate '18

Friday, March 23, 2018

Coursework at the HNC

Emily Rivera (Certificate ’18) shares her experience choosing classes at the HNC and tips on overcoming the learning curve.

During orientation week at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, students gathered in the auditorium to listen to the international and Chinese faculty present on the courses they would teach that semester. As an HNC Certificate student, students are required to take a minimum of three courses per semester in their target language. Students also have the option to take an additional fourth course in their non-target language.

At my undergraduate university, I was a Government and Chinese double major. At the beginning of orientation, I naturally gravitated towards government and politics courses. However, after much thought, I decided I wanted to take courses that I would only be able to take in China and particularly, courses unique to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. I decided that I wanted to explore other areas of China studies and really challenge myself by expanding my vocabulary beyond my comfortable 政治生词。With this in mind, I chose the following Chinese courses for the Fall semester: Anthropology and Chinese Studies, China’s Development and Environment, and Contemporary Chinese Foreign Policy. I also opted to take an additional English course and chose History and Philosophy of Law in the West.

Presenting on China’s foreign policy in Southeast Asia for Contemporary Chinese Foreign Policy (当代中国对外政策).

That first Sunday before class, it felt like every student at the HNC was in the library preparing for our very first class. I remember printing out my readings for Foreign Policy – the class I thought I would feel most comfortable in – and staring back at me was a very small font 60-page reading on Chinese culture and its influence on diplomatic decision making. I won’t lie – it was completely nerve-racking! I remember feeling nervous, thinking, is anyone else just a little bit worried? And, is this going to get easier? The answer is yes and yes. After the first couple weeks of class, that nervous feeling before class went away. Students became more confident and more comfortable raising their hands and participating in class. The readings also became easier to get through and more and more recurring 生词 started to become consistent in everyday vocabulary. Here are some tips to consider when preparing for your classes in that first semester:

1) Talk to your professors! (I cannot stress this enough). The first day sitting in my China’s Development and Environment class was very, very, very intimidating to say the least. I had never taken an environmental studies course in English, let alone at a graduate level and in Mandarin. I remember after about two weeks of class, after taking in all new vocabulary and doing outside reading on my own, I excitedly ran to my professor’s office and told her, “I don’t always understand every single word you are saying, but I love your class and I think it is all so interesting.” My Professor helped me better understand the broader concepts we were learning in class and gave me tips on how to prepare for her class. Even more, she helped me feel confident and told me she was so proud of all of the international students in her class – she knew it wasn’t easy and she was impressed by our willingness to think critically about the most pressing environmental issues that China faces. Professors at the HNC care about their students and are more than happy to chat about anything – whether it be on a required reading for class or on independent reading students complete outside of class.

2) Explore and push your boundaries. The HNC has a very unique curriculum that gives students the option to take courses particularly unique to the HNC. Students can choose from classes in international politics, international economics, and energy, environment, and resources (ERE), a new concentration offered since 2014, among others. My favorite Chinese course I took in the Fall semester was my China’s Development and Environment class. This class challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone and it ended up being one of the best decisions I could have made! I learned about electronic waste, water resource management, and outsourcing CO2 within China, topics I never thought I would learn about in China and in Chinese. This semester, I decided to take another ERE course called Global Environment Fundamentals and I have a feeling my pursuit of ERE studies will not stop there!

3) Ask second-year MAIS students for advice. Second-year students are returning to finish their last year at the HNC and to earn their master’s degree. That means, they have likely taken the classes you have questions about. They are not only experienced, but also have great advice. That first week (and even beyond that) the second-year students graciously offered advice on preparing and reading for class. Also, become friends with them too! While they may be busy preparing for their thesis, they are very friendly and want to get to know you too.

4) Make a vocabulary list (and only write down those really important words). While reading for class, you may feel as though you want to constantly stop and write down every single unknown word in an 80-page reading. While this may be doable for some people, I found the best study method for me personally was to really understand what I felt were the most important, most frequently used words so that I could actively participate in class. For me, this set realistic expectations, helped me get through the readings quicker, and further, I never felt as though I was drowning in learning 150+ characters per reading.

5) Find a study method that works for you and be patient with yourself.
Everyone both learns and studies differently. Some students like to use their laptops in class to jot down notes and instantly look up words they might not know, while other students focus better by physically writing down characters in a notebook to look up after class. Some students enjoy using apps like Pleco for learning unfamiliar words, while others prefer good old-fashioned flashcards. Don’t get frustrated with yourself if you switch study methods after the first few weeks – this is normal, just find what works for you!

6) Also find a study spot that works for you. Some students (cough, me) enjoy studying alone in quiet spaces like the library cubicles. Other students prefer being surrounded by their friends and perhaps work better with a little noise in the background. Accordingly, this student may opt to study in shared work spaces. Choose wherever you feel most productive and better yet, feel free to switch it up! There are also several study spots outside of the HNC at coffee shops and public libraries.

7) Ask your Chinese roommate for recommendations on the most popular TV shows/movies at the moment. Reading articles in Chinese on water resource management and arbitration proceedings on the South China Sea dispute can surely get tiring. Take a break and watch a Chinese TV show or movie for fun. You are still learning and taking in new information, while simultaneously taking a break from dense class readings.

Emily Rivera (Certificate ’18) and 凌梓钦 (Certificate ’18) presenting oral arguments in History and Philosophy of Law in the West.

8) Take that optional fourth class in English if your schedule allows for it. Although not necessary, I took an English course and absolutely loved it! I enjoyed being in a class where the majority of the students were Chinese (about 15) and the international students were in the minority (only 3 of us). History and Philosophy of Law in the West was one of my favorite classes, partially for this reason. Throughout the semester, me and my Chinese classmates had such interesting discussions on topics ranging from human nature to the relationship between law and morality. This gave me the chance to not only understand the differences between America’s criminal law system and China’s criminal law system, but also the opportunity to hear the perspectives of my fellow Chinese classmates on different areas within criminal law.

Written by Emily Rivera, Certificate '18