Wednesday, April 7, 2021

From HNC Student to Expedition/Polar Guide and Antarctic Ambassador

Alexandra Hansen, Certificate ’18, is an Expedition/Polar Guide, International Studies Lecturer, and Naturalist with Silversea Cruises aboard small expedition ships spanning all seven continents.

What led you to your current job? 
A bizarre set of circumstances! At the beginning of my second semester at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, I reached out to my network for job leads. One afternoon, a previous supervisor sent me an email of a poster. The poster had pictures of tropical reefs, king penguins, and snow-capped mountains. But, most prominently, it had a picture of a guide driving a zodiac (a small rubber inflatable boat) with an arrow that said, “This Could Be You.” The poster explained that the company was hosting an intensive training program aboard one of their expedition ships. The program was to train individuals to work and guide in some of the most remote destinations on the planet. They were particularly looking for mandarin speakers, anthropologists, and biologists. I was intrigued and immediately expressed my interest to the hiring manager. I got into the program, flew to South Africa a few months later, and spent 7 weeks aboard a small ship that sailed across the Indian Ocean (visiting 15 countries in between). Eventually, I graduated from the program and was hired as a professional Lecturer, Expedition Guide, and Zodiac Driver. I’ve been doing it ever since. 

What is the coolest place expedition guiding has taken you?
Definitely, Antarctica. I think that it is the most incredible place on the planet. When I am out in the field, I spend my time sharing my knowledge about Antarctica’s history, governance, exploration, and wildlife. I’m also an Antarctic Ambassador who advocates for its continued protection for international cooperation, conservation, and scientific research. 

What drew you to the HNC?
As an undergraduate student, I had a keen interest in Chinese and international studies. I learned about the Hopkins-Nanjing Center when I was studying abroad in Hangzhou my junior year. I was enamored by the idea that I could take graduate-level courses in mandarin, and live and study in a place that was dedicated to free and open academic and cross-cultural dialogue. 

After completing the Certificate program, I can say with certainty that the HNC provided me with meaningful opportunities to solidify my fluency in Chinese, build my network, and discover all sorts of new passions. I was able to get deeply involved in campus life, conduct research, and establish a multidisciplinary understanding of Sino-global issues. The Hopkins-Nanjing Center is a one-of-a-kind program, and it turned out to be the perfect fit for me.

What was your favorite class at the HNC?
I enjoyed many of the courses I took at the HNC. One of my favorites was China and America: A Cross-Cultural Dialogue (中国与美国:文化对话课). This course was a special co-taught, bilingual and cross-cultural course that delved into the changing perspectives between China and America over the last few centuries. The class enrolled 30 students (15 Chinese students and 15 international students) and was taught by two professors, American professor Joe Renouard and Chinese professor Liu Woyu. I think this course was the epitome of what the HNC strives forthe open exchange of ideas between Chinese and International Students. 

What was your favorite memory of the HNC outside of class?
I have three “big” moments that really stand out:
  1. The Nanjing Wall Walk. This ten-hour marathon-long walk traced what used to be the imperial fortifications of Nanjing. The class of 2018 did the walk at the start of the first semester. It was a great way to get to know our classmates and understand the true scale of Nanjing. I can’t think of a better introduction to the city!  
  2. Spending Spring Break Conducting Research in Yunnan. I was granted an opportunity to join an HNC research team that traveled to Xishaungbanna Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan. On this trip I met incredible people, visited a number of influential organizations, and learned more about the current issues facing Xishuangbanna’s population on the China-Myanmar border.
  3. Hiking in Zhangjiajie and Wulingyuan Scenic Area (Hunan). I went with a few friends and was blown away by how beautiful it was. Take a trip there, it’s worth it!  
Reflecting on my experience, I also want to mention that I have many fond memories of just “ordinary” everyday activities. Outside of class, I enjoyed discovering new restaurants with my friends, going on long runs around Xuanwu Lake, checking out the neighborhood bookstore, and hanging out on the yangtai.
What is the value of the HNC to students interested in China?

The HNC curates a unique environment that you can’t find anywhere else. In fact, it’s the only joint program of its kind in China. The campus community is made up of roughly 50% international, and 50% Chinese students and faculty members, all of whom are passionate about Sino-global relations and committed to studying in their target-language. By studying and living at the center, students develop high-level professional target-language skills because they debate issues in class, write analytical papers, read academic articles, and give presentations in front of their peers.

The center also has incredible career development opportunities. The career services team organizes regular career workshops on resumes, applications, and interviewing. It also provides several “career-treks,'' where you can travel to different companies and meet with HNC alumni. By graduating from the HNC, you join a professional network of policymakers, researchers, analysts, diplomats, and business executives who are just as interested in China as you are. 

As the HNC turns 35, what do you think the role of the HNC will be in the future?

As the HNC celebrates 35 years, I think it is valuable to reflect upon its achievements and look towards its future. I hope that over the next 35 years the HNC will continue to strengthen the intellectual bonds that tie its students to beneficial global cooperation.

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center offers its students a unique forum where people with different backgrounds and perspectives can engage in intellectual dialogue, and develop the skills necessary to be important global change-makers. 

Interview conducted by Nick Kaufman, HNC Certificate '21.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Black Lives Matter Mini-Course: All Three SAIS Campuses Working Together

Brandy Darling, HNC Certificate '20 + SAIS MA '21, had the opportunity to interview HNC professor Dr. Paul Dottin, who recently led a mini course on the Black Lives Matter movement. Dr. Dottin’s mini course titled Black Lives Matter in Social Movement Theory explored the origin and organization of the Black Lives Matter movement, important actors and strategies, as well as the movement’s international manifestations and intended outcomes. This extracurricular course engaged students from all three campuses in academic study and critical discussion of this global movement for equality.

Tell me about your journey in crafting this course and its impact across all three SAIS campuses. 

Given the speed and scale of racial unrest sparked by George Floyd’s murder, Dr. Webb [HNC American Co-Director] and I wanted to create a course that would examine the BLM movement critically. What was conceived as a mini-course for HNC students in Nanjing quickly graduated into a four-country affair spanning all SAIS campuses and Australia. The result was Black Lives Matter in Social Movement Theory, which is probably the first HNC course taught across all three campuses. 

My intention from the start was to adopt a “triangulation approach” to the course. The movement’s complexity, speed and scale(s) necessitated an approach that was interdisciplinary, comparative and international. Second, I wanted students to know and assess through the BLM case the merits of influential social movement/collective action concepts and theories. Third, I sought to put some of those social movement perspectives from political science, sociology and psychology into dialogue with perspectives from an interdisciplinary field germane to BLM’s agendas: African-American Studies. My meta-objective was to provide students with theoretical frameworks that could be used to deepen their analysis of other social movements, regardless of composition or politics. So, a pretty ambitious agenda for a three-week course! Thankfully, student feedback on the course was very positive.

“While the Back Lives Matter movement has been a major topic of conversation in the news and across social media, sitting in on this course was the first time I’ve had the chance to engage with the topic in a rigorous academic context. Dr. Dottin instructed the class on how to analyze the different driving forces and reactions to the movement through the application of theoretical frameworks, which I found really valuable and illuminating. It was also very heartening to see how many students were still willing and eager to participate in the mini course despite being in the middle of finals!” - Amanda Bogan, HNC American Program Coordinator 

In your opinion, how has the internationalization of Black Lives Matter helped or harmed the movement’s goals and strength? 

We must recall that BLM as an organization has been international in its vision for some time. “Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation” is its full proper name. If we think of BLM in global network “terms” as a movement wherein each BLM affiliate must attend to its local circumstances yet is affected significantly by what other affiliates (and their opponents) do elsewhere in the world, we can envision BLM as an arena of collective action that can be and is “international” even when this social justice movement is not particularly widespread within a given country. 

Add to this the strong aversion of BLMGNF’s founders to dictating the course of the movement, domestically or abroad. On the one hand, Patrisse Collors, Opal Tometi and Alicia Garza and other organizers have created a movement that cannot be easily derailed, whether its most visible spokespersons are discredited or die. (Think of what happened to the civil rights movement after King was killed.) On the other hand, is there an effective limit to this non-hierarchical decentralized structure when it comes to growing the movement? Can the movement stay “on message” without its actions being strictly directed across the many different public spheres that exist domestically and globally? It will be interesting to see what develops. 

“As someone heavily focused on China, Dr. Dottin’s BLM mini course gave me the opportunity to take an in-depth look at a movement that I’ve always believed to be very important but never had an opportunity to talk about in an academic context. His framing of BLM in social movement theory also meant that everything we learned was applicable in much broader contexts. We were not just analyzing BLM, but developing a useful framework to understand any kind of social movement anywhere in the world. Dr. Dottin even included a section of the course focusing on the impact of BLM in non-American settings, which I found both enlightening and useful when thinking about how social movements differ across borders.”  - Austin Bliss, MAIS '22

What important conclusions were made in your classes? How do those conclusions tie into the lessons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? 

One conclusion I hoped students to draw is that of continuities rather than discontinuities. It has become somewhat fashionable to mark the civil rights movement as outdated, coopted, and now part of the “Establishment.” Now, there is clear public disagreement between the BLM movement and mainstream African-American leaders such Jim Clyburn, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and even former President Barak Obama. Still, BLM is not divorced from the civil rights movement, though it is a different movement. BLM draws more directly on other, lesser-known, activist thought and practice seen during the heydays of the civil rights and black power movements. From Ella Baker “strong people don’t need strong leaders,” a deep distrust of hierarchy? Definitely. From Demita Frazier, Barbara Smith and Beverly Smith a black lesbian feminist ‘intersectionality’ critique of each of those movements? Certainly.

Yet dethroning King is not the conclusion I wanted my students to reach. Rather, it was for them to think through how King’s dream is being re-envisioned today for all of us by those whom in King’s time were forced so often to the margins of the black freedom tradition. 

Interview conducted by Brandy Darling, HNC Certificate '20 + SAIS MA '21. 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

HNC alumna utilizes SAIS studies in objective, data-driven role at Rhodium Group

Lauren Gloudeman, HNC Certificate '12 + SAIS MA '13, is an Associate Director at Rhodium Group’s China Practice, where she 
focuses on China’s trade dynamics and US-China trade policy, its economic reform agenda and implementation, and its macroeconomy and industrial activity. 

How did you become interested in China and end up at the HNC?
I've always loved language study, and during undergrad, I signed up for Chinese language on a whim. I did an intensive summer course in Shanghai and made Chinese language and literature my second major (the first was philosophy) upon my return. After years of bopping back and forth to China, I received a scholarship to study Chinese linguistics at Nanjing University after college, and was living at the dorms next to the HNC, not realizing that the program existed. When I learned about the HNC, I applied and started studying there the following year.

How did your experience at the HNC and SAIS DC together prepare you for your current position?
SAIS provided the right opportunity to apply my China studies and experience in a critical professional field. Getting the SAIS economics education was necessary for my current position (doing China macroeconomics and policy research) and opened China policy job opportunities in Washington, DC. Doing China economics work is inherently in the political economy field, so both the China/international relations and economics foundations proved useful.

What was your journey after SAIS to the position you have now and what experiences have you gained overtime that contribute to your success?
After SAIS, I worked in different US government roles in US-China policy to understand the most important issues in the field, hone my skills, and build my expertise. However, I found that debates around China's economy and trajectory were often too politicized, so I pursued a more objective and data/economics-driven role at Rhodium Group. Gaining insight into different lenses for thinking about China was important to my career.

Do you keep in contact with people that you went to the HNC with?
I do keep in touch with HNC classmatesmany as good friends, and some as contacts in the field.

What advice would you give to current or future HNC students for success at the HNC and after graduation?
I've found that China-focused opportunities are few. I suggest remaining open-minded and adaptable about working in the China economics/policy field, and building additional skillsets or topical/industry expertise to complement China experience/education.

Interview conducted by Brandy Darling, HNC Certificate '20 + SAIS MA '21

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Professor Hua Tao on the role of the HNC in promoting mutual understanding

Nick Kaufman, Certificate '21, had an opportunity to speak with Professor Hua Tao, who teaches Ethnic Minorities in Chinese Society (少数民族与中国社会 ) and Social Issues of China’s Modernization (中国现代化中的社会问题) at the HNC.

This year, the Hopkins-Nanjing Center celebrates its 35th anniversary as a center for study, research, and cultural exchange. The HNC hosts a large array of international and Chinese faculty, with many professors leaving long-lasting influence on their students. 

One professor who has left his mark on generations of HNC students—both in the classroom and in the broader HNC community—is Professor Hua Tao.  

Professor Hua first arrived at the HNC in 1994. Having previously researched Turkic ethnic groups on the medieval Mongolian steppe at Nanjing University, the first class he taught at the HNC examined Chinese ethnic minorities. 27 years later, he is still teaching a version of that class today: Ethnic Minorities in Chinese Society. 

Professor Hua believes that the language ability of current HNC students far exceeds that of those he first encountered in the early 90’s. “The international students’ target language ability is getting better and better,” he said. 

“When I first began, many students were coming to the HNC as their first encounter in their target language,” he said, referencing how many international students, for example, were in the early stages of Chinese language learning when beginning at the HNC. He finds that now, with the expansion of internet learning and Chinese policy opening to increase study abroad opportunities, students generally have more in-country experience in China before coming to the HNC.

Professor Hua believes that the HNC serves the students by not only promoting the study of their target language but also by “encouraging them to know more about their target country, target cultures, and the target institutions” through course content. Studying at the HNC allows them to “know more about China, with a strong understanding in language as well as in Chinese culture.” 

As a result, students are able to attain a graduate-level understanding of Chinese society, while expanding on their language ability. “That is the uniqueness of the HNC,” Professor Hua said. 

Professor Hua has also enjoyed meeting with students outside of the classroom. “There are lots of chances for us to get to know each other,” he said. He’s been able to expose many students and international faculty to traditional Chinese activities, such as ping pong, and has joined in cheering on students participating in traditional dragon boat races. He has also come to enjoy certain aspects of American culture by attending student-faculty HNC events, like the yearly Halloween party.  

From his time at the HNC, Professor Hua has found that students are able to learn and interact with Chinese students and Chinese society in distinct and interesting ways. He believes that the unique experiences of both Chinese and international students at the HNC will bode well as they position themselves for future careers.  

Furthermore, Professor Hua believes that as China’s relations with countries like the U.S. enter a “new period,” which poses “lots of challenges on many levels,” that the work of the HNC will be as important as ever. 

In this new environment, he believes that international and Chinese students risk “forgetting each other: each other’s people and each other’s culture.”  

However, Professor Hua feels that the HNC plays an important role in creating opportunities for exchange among students from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. The HNC has hosted students not only from the U.S. and China, but from countries all over the world. In such an environment, “we must have more understanding about the future,” he said. 

“The tradition of the HNC is to encourage students to understand each other. So I think that the HNC will play a very important role in this time.” 

Written by Nick Kaufman, Certificate '21.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Recent Alumna Uses Analytical and Language Skills at Center for Advanced China Research

Recent alumna Cady Deck, HNC Certificate '19 + SAIS MA '20, shares how her Chinese language and analytical skills developed at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center (HNC) and Johns Hopkins SAIS support her work as an analyst at the Center for Advanced China Research.

Tell us about your career and your current role.  
I'm currently working as an analyst at the Center for Advanced China Research (CACR). I actually met my boss in undergrad when I talked to him after a panel. I guess it's true that networking can be a very important part of the job search, even if one might not realize it at the time. In my current role, I focus on analyzing Chinese-language sources and media. Recently, I've been working a lot on Hong Kong and Taiwan, two portfolios that have been very active in the past year. 

How often do you use Chinese in your current position or other skills you gained while studying at the HNC? 
I'm happy to say that I use Chinese every single day at work because language plays a huge role in my company's analysis of Beijing's foreign policy. I monitor a lot of Chinese-language sites, do translations from Chinese to English, and read authoritative speeches, etc. Obviously, the HNC played a huge role in developing the language skills I use every day. My time at the HNC also taught me how to think critically about and conduct in-depth analyses on purely Chinese sources. 

What was your favorite HNC course?
My favorite class at the HNC was either Ethnic Minorities in Chinese Society or Chinese Constitution. Any class with Professor Hua Tao is bound to be exciting and interesting and Ethnic Minorities in Chinese Society was no exception. That class piqued my interest in learning about the similarities and differences between various ethnic groups along the China-Myanmar border and how that affected local politics, society, and culture. Chinese Constitution was also one of my favorite classes because we had the freedom to discuss any topics related to Chinese law, including contemporary legal cases. As a small class of six people, we had in-depth conversations about whichever topics most interested us. Analyzing the Chinese Constitution and comparing it to the US Constitution was a fascinating experience that gave me insight into Chinese politics and bureaucracy at a fundamental level, which has also proven to be very helpful in my current job.  

What is a favorite memory from the HNC?
One of my favorite memories from the HNC was the research trip we took to Shangri-La in Yunnan Province. As part of our research, we interviewed local shopkeepers about inter-ethnic minority relations in the region. The most interesting interview that my classmate and I conducted was with an older woman who was a street sweeper. We talked with her for about 20 minutes and it turned out that she had this incredibly interesting life story that involved marrying a man from a different ethnic minority and trying to navigate the difficulties of government policies for her marriage and her daughter. In the classroom, we learned about many of these government policies but hearing firsthand experiences from locals was an amazing opportunity. Since the research trip happened over fall break, we all gathered in someone’s hotel room and celebrated Thanksgiving by eating KFC. The trip was far from perfect in many aspects, but I made two of my best Chinese friends during the trip. It’s easy to be sucked into one bubble of friends at the HNC, and while I certainly had a core group of friends there, this trip helped me realize that making that extra effort to connect with people outside of the classroom was equally as important and a valuable part of the HNC experience. 

The HNC is now 35 years old. What do you see as the value of the HNC in the next 35 years?
I think the HNC is going to be very valuable in the next 35 years, especially as US-China relations evolve. The HNC is unique in its ability to bring together Chinese and international students and professors. It offers one of the only programs for international students to read and discuss academic articles in Chinese with Chinese professors and peers in China. Gaining a better understanding about each other’s perspectives and being able to talk through current global issues openly is something that is extremely valuable as academic institutions seek to develop the next generation of policymakers, diplomats, analysts, etc. In an era when US-China relations seemingly continue to spiral downward, the HNC can play a pivotal role in connecting people with different opinions from very different backgrounds and provide them with a forum to engage with each other. 

How has your time at the HNC influenced your life?
The HNC solidified my desire to work in US-China relations. After college, all I knew was that I was interested in China and international affairs, but also political science and domestic politics. So really, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Going to the HNC helped focus my career ambitions and gave me a new community of close friends and peers from a variety of different backgrounds. While I learned a lot in the classroom, I learned equally as much, if not more, from the immersive experience of living with a Chinese roommate in a city teeming with history. In a semi-unrelated note, it also renewed my interest in running because I could see much more of the city (and get very lost) in a shorter period if I did it on foot at an increased speed. Now the first thing I do when I arrive in a new place is to lace up my running shoes, take off in any direction, get lost, and then try to find my way back.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Alumnus Links Foreign Service Success in Chengdu to HNC Experience

Christian Burstall, HNC Certificate '17 + SAIS MA '18, links his success serving as a Foreign Service Officer in Chengdu to his Hopkins-Nanjing Center experience.

Tell us a bit more about your career and your current role.  
I'm a Foreign Service Officer, or diplomat. Exactly what that means is elusive, but a large part of my job is explaining the United States to the rest of the world and explaining the rest of the world to the United States. My most recent assignment was providing consular service in Chengdu. The majority of my time was spent interviewing visa customers. When the novel coronavirus pandemic broke out, I provided emergency services, including working with the Embassy to coordinate emergency flights for U.S. citizens stuck in Wuhan. 

What got you interested in studying Chinese and what drew you to the HNC? 
I studied French my first year of college and the professor made some offhand remark that competent French required about 600 hours of study, while competent Chinese requires more than 2400. For some reason, I decided to interpret that as "you have to be four times smarter" rather than "it takes four times as much work." Eager to prove a point to exactly nobody, I immediately signed up for Chinese. Four years of college Chinese passed, two of them in China, and I still somehow didn't have the full 2400 hours, proving that I absolutely was not four times smarter than anybody. When I was preparing for grad school, I looked for a program that would permit as much Chinese language immersion as possible. There is no program more immersive than the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.  

How often do you use your Mandarin skills and understanding of China developed at the HNC in your current position?
I think it would have been impossible for me to be as successful as I was without what I learned at HNC. In Chengdu, I spent four hours a day interviewing visa applicants in Chinese about their lives in China and their plans for visiting the United States, which required knowledge of Chinese social structures and technical vocabulary. After the interviews were over, I worked with Chinese nationals employed by the Consulate to fulfill my other duties. I was well-liked and trusted by the teamthat would have been more difficult without learning about Chinese etiquette and humor. 

What advice do you have for HNC students aspiring to work at the Department of State or as diplomats?
Right now is a very exciting time in the long, rich history shared by the USA and the PRC. If any HNC student is interested in diplomacy, I truly hope you'll explore that interest! I can only speak to my experience in the State Department, but HNC alumni are scattered across the several posts in China, as well as the China desk at Main State in DC. Your HNC experience won't automatically move you ahead in the hiring process but will give you meaningful overseas experience and training that you can use to make yourself a promising candidate. For specific advice, I welcome anybody to contact me on LinkedIn, or to reach out to [their nearest] Diplomat in Residence.

Interview conducted by Grace Faerber, HNC MAIS '22.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Preparing for the STAMP Chinese Proficiency Test

For most students, the first step in the application process for all Hopkins-Nanjing Center (HNC) programs is taking the Avant Assessment’s STAMP Chinese Proficiency Test. The test is required for admission and can help gauge which of our programs is the best fit for you.

Preparing for the proficiency test
We often have applicants ask the admissions team how they can prepare for the Chinese proficiency test. The truth is, there is no formal study guide or textbook to help you prepare. The proficiency test covers diverse topics and subject matter. It tests your ability to understand main ideas from written Chinese passages and audio recordings. Note that there is no writing or speaking component to the STAMP. This test is reflective of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center’s classroom experience, in that you are tested on your comprehension rather than your ability to identify specific vocabulary words or grammar points.

Listening to Chinese news broadcasts
or watching Chinese TV shows can help
prepare you for taking the STAMP test.
(Image credit: Getty Images)
The test questions are multiple-choice for both the listening and reading sections. There is a sample test available, but it is designed more for you to get a feel for the test structure. The actual test will be more challenging. For example, you might read a section of a Chinese contract or listen to a segment of a real Chinese radio broadcast or interview. The proficiency test is designed to challenge you and push you to the limit of your language ability. It is an adaptive test, which means as you answer questions correctly, the questions increase in difficulty. Even if you do not know the answer to a particular question, try your best to answer each question to the best of your ability. Applicants typically spend about 2 hours on this test, but there is no time limit so be sure to move through it at your own pace. 

There are, of course, still things you can do in preparation to take the test. Regularly reading Chinese news articles can be a great way to practice your reading comprehension skills. To improve your listening skills, tuning in to Chinese news broadcasts and podcasts, or even watching Chinese TV shows, can help you get used to hearing native speakers talk at a natural pace. Another tip is to listen to something in Chinese right before the test, so you are already in "Chinese mode" before you begin.

How to take the proficiency test 
To request the STAMP test, you will first need to start an application to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and complete the personal background and program details. You will then be prompted to choose from two proctoring options: in person for $15 or virtual proctoring for $30. Once you complete this section of the application, you will receive an email from with testing instructions and a link to pay your testing fee.

When to take the test
You can take the test any time before our February 1 regular decisions admissions deadline (or November 1 for early notification), but we generally recommend taking the test when you first begin your application. Keep in mind that you can only take the test once every three months, so it is a good idea to get a head start on the test to allow room for retaking, if necessary. It is also important to note that retaking the test does not negatively impact your application, particularly if there are signs of improvement. 

Getting your results
Once you have completed the test, you will need to notify the HNC Washington Office by emailing, after which you will be emailed your test results. For those applying to the Certificate program (including the Certificate + MAIR and Certificate + MAIA), the recommended score is 1200. For those applying to the Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS), the recommended score is 1300. If you score lower than these recommended scores, do not be discouragedwe will let you know of your various options for strengthening your language skills and retaking the exam, such as continued study or a summer language program. So start your application and request the STAMP Chinese language proficiency test today!

As you prepare to take the STAMP Chinese proficiency test, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center admissions office at for assistance.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Chinese TV Shows for Continued Language Practice

Engaging with media and entertainment in Mandarin is a fun and unique way to retain and strengthen your Chinese language skills. Student blogger Brandy Darling (HNC Cert ‘20 + SAIS MA ’21) connected with current student Hannah Sorenson (HNC MAIS ‘22) and HNC alumna Celine Yeap Shu Wan (HNC Certificate ‘20) to collect a sample of Chinese TV show recommendations to get you started.

幸福触手可及  (Love Designer / Love Advanced Customization)

Recommender: Celine Yeap Shu Wan '20

Genre: Business, Romance 

Where to Watch: YouTube

The story of an aspiring fashion designer and an e-commerce start-up founder who were a mismatch from the start. Due to 
incidences that end up making their lives and work heavily interdependent, they are forced to cooperate. Conflicts are bound to happen with these two hard-headed individuals, but they slowly find themselves growing in each other’s strength. 

What words/expressions have you learned from this show? 

E-Commerce/Tech related terms, such as:  

  • 营销手段 - marketing approach 
  • 用户隐私 - user privacy 
  • 失去先机 - losing a key opportunity (first-mover advantage) 
  • 上身效果 - a term that describes the effects of trying on certain pieces of apparel 
  • 消费理念 - consumption philosophy 
  • 应用程序 - application (the actual proper term behind “APP”) 
  •   - a common expression to describe someone as dejected (我还是头一回见你那么丧! 

长安十二时辰  (The Longest Day in Chang’an)

Recommender: Celine Yeap Shu Wan '20

Genre: Historical, Action, Crime Investigation 

Where to Watch: YouTube, Amazon Prime 

 Set in the Tang dynasty, this show tells the story of a former detective turned death row prisoner, Zhang Xiaojing, who came to save the dynasty from being overthrown by mysterious invaders known as “Wolf Guards” (狼卫)

Check out more on why you should be watching the Longest Day in Chang’an.

What words/expressions have you learned from this show? 

Mainly traditional Chinese grammar patterns.

  • 放肆 - a common expression (usually from more senior people) describing someone as presumptuous 
  • 经查 - upon investigation; a shortened version of 经过调查 
  • 并未 - not really; a shortened version of 并没有 
  • 已毙 - a traditional Chinese way of saying “was killed” 
  • 故此 - a traditional Chinese way of saying “therefore” (e.g. 故此只能暗捉) 
  • 但愿 - if only/I wish; a traditional Chinese way of saying 希望, usually appears in poems (e.g. 但愿人长久,千里共婵娟) 
  • 死罪豁免 - immunity from death penalty 

爱上哥们  (Bromance)

Recommender: Hannah Sorenson '22

Genre: Taiwanese Rom-Com

Where to Watch: Netflix  

 “The show has a bunch of story lines all tangled into one
its chaos is what makes it appealing. In the simplest terms, it's a show about a girl, Pi Yanuo, who has to pretend to be a boy until her mid-twenties because a possibly fake fortune teller told her parents they should expect to have a healthy and successful son. A martial arts hobbyist, she saves the life of a notorious gang leader and amusement park owner, Du Zifeng, when he's attacked outside of her mobile hotdog stand. The two become sworn 'brothers' and...fall in love? Unlisted in the main plot are the abducted parents, amnesia, terminal illness, cruises, and goats. It was the first 'drama' I ever watched and, quite frankly, remains the most ridiculous. If you've never seen a drama, look no furtherthey're all wrapped up into one here.” 

How has it helped you keep up with Chinese language?   

“I watched this show to unwind as an undergraduate student and even convinced non-Chinese speaking friends to watch it. The second time I watched it (which I rarely do), it was particularly useful for improving listening adaptability, especially with the Taiwanese accent. Bromance is also quite useful for simple phrasesI learned 没事 (it's nothing/it's alright) and used it during my first trip to China when I burned my face on 火锅 (hot pot)and familiarizing yourself with traditional characters, especially if you use the subtitles.

Written by Brandy Darling, HNC Cert ‘20 + SAIS MA ‘21.