Wednesday, February 21, 2018

HNC Alumni Profile: Ellis Gyöngyös

Ellis Gyöngyös, Certificate ’14, is the founder and CEO of Know Your Token, an ICO and cryptocurrency due diligence provider and advisory firm.

Let’s start by having you talk a bit about yourself.
I went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and majored in Chinese and International Economics and immediately went to the HNC after graduating. After completing a certificate at the center, I attended a career trek arranged by Robbie Shields, HNC’s Career Advisor. Afterwards, I applied to several positions and got my first job in Hong Kong at Kroll. I worked as an analyst there for over 3 years conducting compliance and regulatory due diligence with a focus on IPO projects. My position called for a lot of Chinese research, a skill I strengthened at the HNC. Recently, I left Kroll to start my own company providing due diligence on ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) and I’ll be doing deep dive due diligence on crypto companies. This is a hot new field and I’m really excited!

Can you talk a little about your current role? How much would you say HNC prepared you for this role?
Conducting due diligence has a lot to do with research skills. I honed those skills at the HNC and I found that I did a lot more reading in Chinese at Kroll than I ever did at the HNC (if you had told me that I would someday read even more Chinese while I was at the HNC, I never would have believed you!) For some people the amount of reading at the HNC is unbelievable. I remember having to read 120 pages one night. At the Center, you develop the skill of extracting content without reading every single word in a passage. You must make sure that you can glean content from paragraphs or whole papers in a short amount of time. Thankfully I learned that at the HNC and brought those skills to into my career in due diligence where there is just a lot of content.

I also learned how to connect the dots. You can gather tons of data on urban migration in China but, to really understand what’s going on, you need to know about the factors behind it. Why are these people migrating and what effect does it have? Being able to look at something critically instead of simply recounting facts is very valuable in a job.

What courses did you take during the year?
I took a variety of classes but Adam Webb’s Rural Development class really stood out to me. One of my favorite classes, perhaps the most useful class for my first job was on Game Theory. In that class I wrote a report about salary negotiations through which I learned that it’s better to negotiate for higher pay during an interview. Most companies actually have more money to offer but they pitch low on initial offers because they want to save money. Most of the time, if you present a good case for why you need/deserve money you’ll get more. I tried it at my first job and it worked.

Another course I took was an introduction to economics course, Economic Principles. I also took a couple of anthropology courses with Hua Tao who is an amazing teacher. I took mostly Chinese courses since that is a requirement of the curriculum.

What would you say is your best memory from your time at the HNC?
During the fall break a group of friends and I went to Chengdu. We flew there and stayed in a hostel and I remember lots of fun and good food. That short trip was a great way to foster strong friendships. I also remember having good conversations at night at the Center with friends, we would walk around and talk all the time.

What was the biggest thing you learned outside the classroom?
I would say I really learned how to appreciate people no matter what their background is. There was a lot of variety between international and Chinese students, some were straight out of undergrad while others had years of full-time work experience. Additionally, not all of the international students were from the US. Some of the Chinese students were more outgoing while some wanted to study more. I learned to try and find common ground with everyone.

What would you say is the best resource available to HNC students?
The HNC provides you with a community of people that all care about bettering themselves. They want to learn, or they want to go to the gym, or they want to advance in their career - everyone wants to better themselves in some way. I think that this is a really healthy mindset and a good thing to promote and it is great to immerse yourself in that type of community.

What piece of advice would you give current and prospective HNC students?
Take a day or two to completely explore the Center. There are lots of nooks and crannies that I found throughout the year like the study room on the fifth floor with the 阳台. I didn’t know about that initially, so I usually studied in the library but having more options means that when one of them is full you still have other places to go. You should also take a day or two to explore around the Center. Walk out to 金银街 you can see all sorts of print stores and hostels. It’s just a good idea to acquaint yourself with your surroundings. As for prospective students, I would say spend more time speaking your target language before you go. I mean a lot more!

Written by Benjamin Miles, MAIS '19 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Zumba in Nanjing

Before I arrived at the Hopkins Nanjing Center, I didn’t really know what my life would look like in Nanjing outside of the graduate level classes taught in Chinese. I knew that I would live on campus with a Chinese roommate  presumably eat a mix of food from the onsite cafeteria and outside restaurants, and likely spend a bit of time exploring the city and beyond. There were things that I never expected to join in with, and chief among them was dancing to catchy Latin songs at the Nanjing University track alongside retirees, students and young kids.

A typical scene mid-dance

Allow me to explain. Via a WeChat group (because how else would anything be coordinated in China, ever) a handful of Zumba enthusiasts alerted an audience of 200 or so Nanjing-based WeChat users to when and where a gathering of Zumba dancing would take place: usually Wednesday and Sunday afternoons at the Nanjing University track (which is a convenient 5 minute walk from the Hopkins Nanjing Center). Once there, a diverse crowd assembles: retired Chinese ladies clad in tracksuits, glam young women with shiny ponytails, a few athletic young men, the odd bumbling father and an assortment of spectators usually toting babies and toddlers swaddled in thick puffer jackets, regardless of the weather. The large boom box style speaker would be rolled up, Latin beats blasting. The young Zumba devotees with tens of dances memorized would begin trotting through the fast-paced shimmies, lunges, hip swings and claps that form a typical Zumba song. Between songs, dancers would have just enough time to exchange pleasantries, complain about the cold or the heat, or laughingly despair at their tiredness from keeping up with the speedy dance routines.

Zumba was a great experience for many reasons: it was an aerobic workout (you’ll never forget your first time – way more jumping and leaping than you’d ever experience in an ordinary two-hour period), a source of fun and enjoyment and a great opportunity to engage in the wider community. My HNC friends and I used to go out for dinner regularly with our Zumba friends following the sessions. Our dinners at nearby Nanjing restaurants provided opportunities for fun conversations in Chinese, new dishes to try and friendships formed. When we went to our final Zumba session, we were granted the honor of dancing on the upper platform which was where the Zumba leaders stood. We took a lot of photos, hugged a lot of dear friends, cried a little and went out for a fantastic final meal.

A group photo from our last session

I tell the story of Zumba not to encourage you to join it (though any new HNC students are eagerly urged to do so, and please say hi from me to the Zumba regulars!) but to remind students of the exciting possibilities that await them in the outer Nanjing community. Such activities for my fellow classmates during my time included singing in church choirs, playing in women’s rugby teams and volunteering in the community. At the start of the semester Co-Director Davies urged us to get to know Nanjing over the course of the year, and of course, a vitally important part of a city is its people. I was delighted to have the chance to form friendships with some wonderful Nanjing dwellers through my Zumba dancing, and I hope my experience can be a reminder of the very unexpected but marvelous things that can be (literally) just around the corner during your time at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.

Written by Anna Woods, Certificate/SAIS MA '18

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

HNC Alumni Profile: Sean Linkletter

Sean Linkletter is a senior analyst at JLL, an American commercial real estate firm, in Shanghai. He graduated with a Certificate from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center in 2015.
Let’s start by having you talk a bit about yourself. 
I spent my youth in Santa Cruz, California and then studied finance and Chinese at the University of South Carolina. I had always had a fascination with the Chinese language and culture, as I grew up in California near large Chinese communities. I decided to study Chinese to satisfy the language requirement in college and did a program at Tsinghua University in Beijing my junior year. After graduating, I wanted to work in finance and real estate in the US – ideally for a REIT (real estate investment trust) but my work experience and limited industry connections did not put me in a strong position after school. Additionally, Chinese investment in the US real estate market was quite limited at the time, so it would have been hard to utilize my language skills.

Instead, I decided to spend a year completing the certificate program at the HNC, which really suited my professional needs and gave me the opportunity to connect with the real estate industry in China. I had heard that Robbie Shields’ career services advising was one of HNC’s biggest assets – and it lived up to the hype! I met with Robbie Shields regularly and participated in the Asia Trek – where we met with senior people and former alumni at top international financial intuitions in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Through the connections I made during my time at the HNC, I was able to land a job at JLL in the summer of 2015.

Can you talk a little about your current role? How much would you say HNC prepared you for this role?
My role at JLL focuses on property market analysis in China. Essentially, I research commercial property trends and provide data forecasts to institutional investors and I have worked in both Tianjin and Shanghai. During my time in Tianjin, I helped draft the AmCham Annual White Paper for the North China Chapter, outlining recommendations for both the American and Chinese governments on how to improve business relations in the real estate sector. I also made legal suggestions to improve investment conditions, such as eliminating zoning restrictions and barriers to foreign investment and improving the consistency of taxation.

The HNC helped me cultivate a macro-economic perspective on China, such as how interest rate rises in the US affect the stability of the RMB or how China’s housing privatization of the late 1990s affects consumption today. It was also interesting that the time in which I took Professor Armstrong-Taylor’s Financial Crises course coincided with the 2015 bubble in Chinese stock market. We were all scratching our heads at the market’s huge run up at the time; a few months later, it collapsed.

What courses did you take at the HNC?
I took a number of economics courses like Comparative Economics, Financial Crises, and Corporate Finance. I also took Comparative Law and Money, Banking, and Financial Institutions. In Professor Kurien’s class, I wrote a paper on deposit insurance in China and gave a presentation on the outlook of China’s housing market. I also took a number of classes in Chinese, including Econometrics, Chinese Investment Law, and Energy and the Environment. The Chinese Econometrics course was particularly useful because I learned how to use R statistical modeling and regression analysis, which directly benefited my job at JLL.

Did you have a Chinese roommate?
Yeah, I did. He was from Lanzhou in Gansu. It was fun having him as my roommate. We had a lot of good discussions, everything from the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement to the Chinese concepts of 面子 and 中庸, to the social pressure of buying a house to court a significant other. We set ground rules about language, alternating days between English and Chinese, which proved valuable for learning colloquial phrases. Having a Chinese roommate was also mutually beneficial when it came to writing papers or preparing presentations in our second languages.

What would you say is your best memory from your time at the HNC?
My best memory was a trip we took over 春节. Three friends from the HNC and another student from 花苑 right next door and I took a month and a half adventure from Hanoi to Rajastan in India. I also look fondly over the memories in the lounge playing Settlers of Catan or Super Smash Bros.

From a more academic perspective, I really enjoyed our frequent debates, in which a professor and students would discuss hot-button issues like territorial claims in the South China Sea and the HK Umbrella Movement. It was refreshing to hear the Chinese and Western perspectives on each issue and to be able to share these open academic discussions.

What would you say was your biggest challenge while at the HNC?
I would say writing in Chinese was definitely a challenge. I didn’t write a thesis but writing some of the essays was really challenging. When I write it generally comes off as 口语. I would have to write 3-to-4 page essays in Chinese, which was difficult. Luckily, I had much support from the professors and my roommate.

What would you say is the best resource available to HNC students?
Everyone says career services, so I’ll say something else. The library was fantastic. There were a lot of books even for my own personal interests. All the software you could want is available. The professors are really invaluable, I still contact them on a regular basis and they are always available for questions related to their expertise or career advice. The new gym equipment was great too, and the lounge with all the games. There are just so many great resources at HNC, but the career counseling and and treks were the best part.

Would you say graduates of the HNC have a certain thing in common aside from their language?

Besides the language skills, HNC students are very articulate and academically inclined. HNC students are really good at looking at issues from a wide perspective, taking time to consider the cultural, political, and economic factors.

What piece of advice would you give current HNC students?
Use all the resources that HNC has to offer. Talk to as many of the faculty as you can. Go outside of the neighborhood鼓楼 bubble, and take a trip to the development zone. Go south to 河西新区 and 江宁. Get a feel for China, go out and explore, there’s a lot to gain from seeing what else is out there off of the 上海路 and 北京路intersection. Travel to other cities and meet people in your desired industry. It’s as simple as asking people for coffee and 30 minutes of their time. People are generally willing to help since everyone’s been in a university grad’s shoes at some point.

Written by Benjamin Miles, MAIS '19 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

HNC Roommates: An Interview with 肖玲

Student blogger Emily Rivera shares the HNC experience of her Chinese roommate:肖玲. 肖玲 describes her reasons for choosing the HNC, her thoughts on how HNC student groups and courses compare to Chinese universities, and her memories of her very first day at the HNC.

cross-cultural roomates
A very unique aspect of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center is the majority of international students and Chinese students get paired to live together as roommates. When I was completing a Chinese language intensive program in Beijing, I lived with an international student in an international student dorm, which is the norm for many study abroad programs in China. The focus of the HNC, however, is not only the improvement of your language skills while taking graduate level courses – the HNC places a large focus on cultural exchange as well. The HNC’s intercultural community, which stood apart to me from other graduate programs, is one of the reasons I chose to apply.

At the HNC the goal is to pair students with roommates who share similar interests and motivations. Most nights, my roommate and I discuss what we are learning in our respective classes – from America’s wealth gap to China’s rapid urbanization to universal equality. My roommate and I generally stick to our target language when communicating with one another. For example, I will ask her a question in Chinese and she will respond in English. We know it is also helpful to listen to a native person speak the language, so sometimes we trade off and have conversations entirely in Chinese or entirely in English. My roommate was happy to focus one night on today’s interview to help students better understand what the HNC experience is like for a Chinese student. See our exchange below:

Please introduce yourself.
My Chinese name is 肖玲 and my English name is Charlene. I am originally from Chongqing and I attended Wuhan University. I have studied English for 10 years.

Why did you decide to apply and to come to the HNC?

While I was at Wuhan University, my major was International Relations with a focus on Diplomacy. I wanted to focus on American studies and to continue to study the politics and foreign policy of America when I graduated. My Professor at Wuhan University encouraged me to apply. I did research on the HNC website and saw that it was partnered with Nanjing University. I decided to apply. I chose the HNC because I really wanted to not only practice my English, but to make exchanges with students from different backgrounds. I always look forward to hearing people’s viewpoints and am curious about their points. Sometimes you need to listen to someone with a different point of view.

What aspects of the HNC have you enjoyed so far?
Making friends with international students. I have never had an international roommate. Most of the international students are so energetic. I think you are all so very social and are easy to make friends with everyone. You reach out to the Chinese students and actively try to communicate with them. I really admire it. Sometimes some of us are very introverted and need someone to take the first step.

What has been your favorite memory so far at the HNC?
That first morning the cafeteria doors opened and everyone sat together eating for the first time, I remember it so clearly. I was so very touched when I saw the people in the dining hall, eating, laughing, and talking together. I thought to myself, people are so collected here and there is already so much 交流 (exchange). I was so shocked. I never thought I would see such exchange. It really showed me that there are no constraints due to our international borders or due to some perceived identity.

How do you like your classes so far?
I really enjoy my classes. My English courses are Ethics and Public Policy in Global Perspective, Comparative Foreign Policy and Global Energy Fundamentals. The HNC has a lot of courses. At universities in China, you can only choose courses that are for your major, but at the HNC you can take classes in international law, international politics, international economics, anthropology, etc. Taking classes at the HNC and taking classes at Chinese universities is also different. At Chinese universities, the teacher generally prepares a PPT and gives a lecture during class. Students only need to listen and follow the PPT. But at the HNC there are many different classes you can take. For example, we have mini-courses, seminar discussions, and lecture courses, all which usually require participation. I think this demands more from students, as the expectation to engage is higher. This also allows students to be academically stimulated and to grow in their thinking.

Besides your classes, how else does your HNC experience differ from your undergraduate experience?
Well, right now I am part of the ping pong group and the badminton group. Besides courses, I also think HNC’s student activities and organizations are great. For example, HNC groups generally are organized by the students. However, at universities in China, organizations are more officially organized. The relationship between the organizations and the schools seems more formal. But at the HNC, it isn’t like that. Most student activities are organized by the students and students choose to participate in the groups they like. Also, there are many diverse groups and activities you can join. I think this is really great.

What are your career goals?
In fact, right now my career goals are focused on media and communications. I would like to be a journalist, although this type of job can be very difficult. I will of course try to go for some other jobs, like in public relations or human resources. Before, I wanted to work in foreign affairs, but for that type of job you sometimes have to live abroad for 5-8 years, so I think it is a little difficult given the special atmosphere. I can accept to live or work abroad, maybe for 2-3 years, but not for that long a period. The jobs I am applying for now are both with international companies and Chinese companies. They all require that you speak English. There are several rounds for these jobs - I have to perform several online tests, interviews, and answer face-to-face questions.

Written by Emily Rivera

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

10 Ways HNC Students Spend Their Weekends in Nanjing

Student blogger, Alexandra Hansen, features 10 ways that HNC students like to spend their weekends. We hope that through this post you will be able to better understand the HNC’s tight-knit community and culture.


Happy Holidays! It’s been a busy time of year at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. January has brought with it many assignments, presentations, and guest lectures. Nonetheless, HNC students are still finding ways to relax and have fun. With this in mind, here are the Top 10 things HNC students do on the weekends in order to rest and unwind.

Number 1: Explore Xuanwu Lake, the surrounding Nanjing wall and Jiming Temple
This is only a 15-minute walk off-campus!

Number 2: Volunteer at a local elementary school 
Some students choose to volunteer every Friday evening and teach English at a local school.

 Number 3: Hang out with your roommate
HNC roommate pairs are a great way for students to deepen their cultural exchange experience.

 Number 4: Take a hike around Purple Mountain
Purple Mountain has a lot to offer including Sun Yatsen’s Mausoleum, Ming Tombs, and Linggu Temple.

Number 5: Support the HNC Basketball Team at a game
中美中心! 加油!加油!加油!

Number 6: Take an exercise class at the local gym
My favorite classes are Zumba, Spinning, and BodyCombat. Here we see fellow student admissions worker, Emily getting ready for a Bodystep class!

Number 7: Go out to dinner with friends
There are so many great restaurants in the area, both Chinese and international! 

 Number 8: Catch up on homework in the Laura Chen Reading Room (陈乐怡阅览室)
The balcony on the 5th floor also has some nice views of the HNC and the surrounding neighborhood.

 Number 9: Attend a party thrown by the banwei (班委)
The photo above is the HNC Halloween Party!
Number 10: Spend the weekend traveling
Popular locations include Shanghai, Huang Shan, Wuxi, and Hangzhou.

Written by Alexandra Hansen, Certificate '18

Thursday, January 11, 2018

SAIS Energy Tour of China

In late November, twenty students from Washington, Bologna, and Nanjing participated on the SAIS Energy Tour of China study trip. The purpose of the trip was to allow students to study the energy transition currently underway in China and was conducted with the support of the China-US Exchange Foundation. The themes of the trip were energy governance, renewable technology innovation, commercialization of renewables and new energy storage, and consumption and end-use efficiency. The students visited three Chinese cities, Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai, and explored a different theme in each. Hopkins-Nanjing Center (HNC) Professor Roger Raufer and Johns Hopkins SAIS Professor Rui Wang led the group, which included eight students from the HNC, ten students from D.C., and two students from Bologna, Italy.
The whole group enjoying a blustery winter day at the Ming Tombs
Our trip started in Beijing, the political center of China, and our meetings focused on energy governance. On the first day we met with the National Development and Reform Commission, the Energy Research Institute, the National Energy Administration, and the Ministry of Environmental Protection. We also enjoyed an informal lunch discussion with a representative from the Paulson Institute.

The following day, we flew to the sunny southern city of Shenzhen in Guangdong Province, China’s high-tech capital, to learn more about innovation in the renewables field and meet with the Shenzhen Energy Group, the Tsinghua-Berkeley-Shenzhen Institute, and BYD, which is a major manufacturer of electric vehicles.

Hard-hat-selfie at a waste-to-energy plant
Gazing upon the diorama of the future at BYD
The last city we visited was Shanghai, located in the Yangtze River Delta, which is China’s manufacturing heartland and a major center of renewables commercialization in its own right. In Shanghai, we visited the Trina Group, located just outside the city and one of the world’s largest manufacturers of solar panels (and a major innovator in new energy storage,) as well as a power plant owned by Guodian, one of the largest utilities in the country. We also visited Nicobar, a small nuclear analytics and consulting firm, and the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies. The last visit of our tour was to the Nanhui New City: a breathtakingly ambitious eco-town that the Chinese government has constructed from reclaimed land on China’s Pacific coast.

Getting ready to meet with the Ministry of Environmental Protection
The SAIS Energy Tour study trip was an amazing experience. All of us learned a great deal about the changes and opportunities occurring within China’s energy sphere, whether we have lived in this country for many years, or were visiting for the very first time. We also saw some things that were already familiar to us from our studies. It was especially interesting to see some of the pollution control technologies we recently discussed in HNC Professor Raufer’s class “Air Pollution and its Control” being implemented in Chinese power plants, and those students who will take Professor Wang’s class in Washington on sustainable urban planning this spring in Washington will benefit greatly from having toured the Nanhui New City.

The main takeaway of the trip for most of us was that China is in the process of transitioning to an energy system based around renewables, distributed storage, and smart grids. They have already developed and commercialized some truly impressive technologies, and are making progress towards implementing a national level emissions-trading platform that will make China a global leader on climate change (as was evident in our visit to two carbon emissions exchanges, in Beijing and Shenzhen.) At the same time, our visit to the Guodian Changzhou coal-fired power plant underlined just how significant China’s coal industry still is, and how much further renewable energy technology will have to develop before it can replace such a facility.

Enjoying a well-earned boat cruise in Shanghai at the conclusion of a successful trip
As China continues to develop at a breakneck pace, study tours like ours will be critically important for understanding the direction of clean energy transition both here and in the rest of the world. We all feel incredibly lucky to have participated in the SAIS Energy Tour.

Written by Gillian Zwicker, MAIS ‘18 and Kenneth Rosenkranz, MAIS ‘18

Monday, January 8, 2018

Basketball at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center

Student blogger Emily Rivera, HNC Certificate ’18, writes about the HNC basketball team’s win at their first game at the HNC basketball court.

The HNC Basketball Team (中美中心的篮球队)
Earlier this semester, students and faculty gathered around the HNC basketball court to support the basketball team at their very first home game. Sitting on the sidelines, enthusiastic HNC fans filled the court with “加油” and “中美中心.” Although the winter weather had everyone bundled up in their scarves and hoodies, fans still sat happily on the sidelines sharing food and thoughts on the game with their neighbors.

The HNC basketball team is another way for students to become involved on campus and to exchange cultures and language outside of the everyday classroom. Student-run groups and teams make up the bulk of student extracurricular activities. Other activities at the HNC include Tai Chi, Calligraphy, Ping-Pong, Yoga, China-Africa Interest Group, Philosophy Discussion Group, and a language partner group, among others.

The basketball team warming up for their game

Made up of international students and Chinese students, the student-run HNC basketball team was formed at the beginning of the semester. 阮晨, a first-year HNC Certificate student, decided to join the team because of the opportunity to make friends and for language exchange. Besides practicing on the court three times a week, the basketball team also gets together to hang out and watch basketball. 阮晨 has learned formal basketball terms in English through interactions with his teammates and on the flip side, he’s had fun teaching Chinese basketball terms, such as 犯规 and 好球, to his English-speaking teammates!

During the game, students sported their HNC basketball team jerseys. The HNC basketball jerseys are a fun, spirited addition to the team. HNC students and faculty had the opportunity to buy jerseys themselves, while the team gets to rock their names and numbers out on the basketball courts. Haleigh Morgus, a second-year MAIS student and the basketball team manager, organized the purchasing of the jerseys and is the main point of communication for the team throughout the basketball tournament.

The team coming in for their final huddle after their first win!

The final shot of the basketball team’s first game was truly magical. With only a few seconds left, the HNC was up by 20 points. Everyone was ecstatic with the score and thought that would be it. With only a few seconds left, first-year Certificate student hailing from Myanmar, Khun Nyan Min Htet (Joy Joy), ran across the basketball court and with amazing momentum made the last shot of the game, a 3-pointer, bringing the final score to 45-23. HNC fans – and his teammates on the sidelines – jumped up in the air simultaneously, chanting his name and enthusiastically high-fiving each other.

After the game, a member from the away team told one of our team members: "Your fans are so crazy; we wish we had the same kind of support!" The basketball game was another example of the HNC community coming together to support one another. We are so proud of our basketball team! We hope to see everyone back on the court soon as we move into playoffs.

Haleigh Morgus, the team’s美女经理, standing next to the final score of the game
Written by Emily Rivera, HNC Certificate ’18

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Holiday Cheer at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center

This Wednesday, student blogger, Alexandra Hansen, features the holiday season at the HNC through pictures.

 Photos by Alexandra Hansen, Certificate '18

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Happy Holidays from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center

Student blogger, Alexandra Hansen, shares the highlights from the HNC holiday season. This year students took part in a series of activities including Hanukkah celebrations, cookie decorating and Secret Santa. 

Santa came to the HNC to pass out Secret Santa gifts
The Hopkins-Nanjing Center was filled with holiday cheer this December! In order to celebrate the season, international students and Chinese students alike took part in festive activities around the HNC.

Ben Miles (MAIS ’19) kicked off Hanukkah celebrations on December 12th. That evening, he hosted a candle lighting ceremony, during which he told the story of Hanukkah and invited students to eat latkes and play dreidel. On the eighth and final night of Hanukkah, students feasted on cream-filled doughnuts (jelly-filled ones were hard to find), and watched as the last candle was lit.

Certificate student Kelsey Hamilton (’18) initiated the “5 Nights of Christmas” movie event, in which she hosted a series of Christmas films over the course of a week. Students gathered in the student lounge to watch classics including “Love Actually,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas,”  “Elf,” “A Christmas Story,” and “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Watching and laughing at the film “Elf” with my friends was one of my favorite parts of the holidays!

In the days leading up to Christmas, the Banwei planned a cookie baking and decorating event, and a cookie and wine social. Several weeks leading up to Christmas Day they also paired students, professors and staff up for the anonymous gift exchange, Secret Santa (and one of my favorite Christmas traditions)!

On Christmas Eve school administrators set up a candlelight banquet in the cafeteria. Students, professors and staff attended and enjoyed both Chinese food (braised duck, sweet and sour pork, and stir fried vegetables) and more traditional Christmas foods (mashed potatoes, ham, pumpkin pie and chocolate cake).

At 10:30am on Christmas Day, students were pleased to see that Santa had made a visit to the HNC! Santa helped pass out gifts from the Secret Santa gift exchange! One of my favorite things about the gift exchange was seeing how excited the Chinese students were, people are still talking about it at the HNC – it was a hit! This year some of the presents included VR goggles, a beautiful lamp, chocolates, mugs and notebooks. I was delighted to receive a beautiful red and gold silk scarf from my Secret Santa! After resting and hanging out during the day, some student gathered in the student lounge Christmas evening and sang carols, rounding off the Christmas celebrations with a rendition of “Silent Night.”

Although it was my first time away from home for the holidays, I was happy to spend time with my new HNC family! I hope everyone had a cheerful and fulfilling holiday season—Happy New Year!

Written by Alexandra Hansen, Certificate '18