Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Letter to Prospective Students: Reflection on my experience in Nanjing and DC

Dear Prospective Hopkins-Nanjing Center Student,

You may still be in the process of deciding whether the Hopkins-Nanjing Center is the right choice for your career and for your next few years of life. This is a big decision. Partaking in the Hopkins-Nanjing Center doesn’t just mean that you will grow to understand China from an insider perspective through studying international relations in Chinese, but it also means living in China for at least a year. It means immersing yourself in a completely different culture through building new relationships, improving your language skills, traveling around China, and tasting new foods.

 Picture of Xuanwu Lake I took during one of my walks

As a student who has gone through the Hopkins-Nanjing Center Certificate program and is finishing the Johns Hopkins SAIS MA, I’d like to share my experiences with you! Nanjing’s historical and relaxed city was my home for a year. I took many walks around Xuanwu Lake and visited the Presidential Palace several times with friends. Over many meals in the cafeteria, these same friends engaged me in interesting discussions on the Chinese education system and media in China. For the first time, I was around students with similar interests in China who had studied Chinese for years. They were just as curious and interested in the Chinese way of doing things as I was. My Hopkins-Nanjing Center friends supported me in my daily life and helped me with some of my goals, such as ideas about career paths to pursue. They even gave me smiles of encouragement from the back row of the class during my most challenging Chinese presentation on China-Southeast Asia relations. You will not only grow in your Chinese speaking abilities and understanding of Chinese politics culture  but you’ll also grow in your ability to connect with people of different backgrounds and ideas.

A lot of food options are conveniently located on Shanghai Road just outside the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. Jiaozi, noodles, and hot pot became my main meals and at times, I did miss food from home. When I craved American food, the popular Bluefrog burger restaurant was just a taxi ride away!

 Some classmates in Ruili, China
Almost everything I learned about China’s development in class came to life when I explored China beyond Nanjing. Visiting Shanghai was easiest because it was only a fast train away from Nanjing. When I visited the top of the Shanghai tower to look over the city, the product of China’s urbanization policies were evident as I marveled at China’s urban development. A few weeks later, I traveled on the slow train to Huangshan to hike the yellow rolling mountains that I had seen in old style Chinese paintings. They actually exist! After all these adventures, and building new relationships, leaving China was hard. Sometimes, I still miss the city and miss the connections I made with students and faculty.

My experience at Johns Hopkins SAIS DC for the second half of the program was a new adventure all together. The bustling and culturally rich city of DC became my new home. I quickly found time to explore the city including the capitol building, monuments, and museums on the National Mall. The academic challenge at Johns Hopkins SAIS has been different from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center because I’ve had to primarily tackle quantitative based courses. If you’re worried about that challenge, do not be afraid. The quantitative classes have helped me better understand all my class readings that are filled with regression models and economic statistics. While I have enjoyed these classes, I have most enjoyed my Chinese language classes and China studies classes. These classes remind me of my time in China and continue to satisfy my curiosity to know more about the Asia-pacific region.

Through this program so far, I have acquired quantitative skills, language skills, and an enhanced ability to navigate between different cultures. My experiences at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and Johns Hopkins SAIS have prepared me to pursue academic and career interests in China-Africa-US relations. I hope my brief explanation of my experiences has helped you see how this program may fit some of your future goals and enhance your life experiences. All the best as you make your decisions to apply to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center!

Tarela Ousobeni 

Written By Tarela Osuobeni Hopkins-Nanjing Center Certificate’ 17, SAIS MA’19

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Student Profile: Hilde Marie Moholth

Name: Hilde Marie Moholth

Program: Hopkins-Nanjing Center Certificate + Johns Hopkins SAIS MA

Hometown: Kongsberg, Norway

Undergraduate Institution and Major: Chinese University of Hong Kong, Contemporary China Studies (Bachelor of Social Science BSSC)
Tell us about your background and how you became interested in China.
I had a vague interest in all things related to Asia when I was a child. Through a high school exchange, I ended up in Hong Kong. I had decided that if I were to study abroad, I would go somewhere really different. I returned to Norway to finish high school, did a year of engineering, and then did a gap year to study Chinese martial arts and Chinese language. After high school, I went to live and study in a tiny village in the west of Norway, where there was a school for students who had finished high school but did not want to start university yet. I met a couple who had gone to 北京体育大学 (Beijing Sport University) and did 武术 (Wushu). They taught us Chinese and martial arts and then we went to China together. While I was there, I decided that I really missed Hong Kong and wanted to go back, so I applied to the Chinese University of Hong Kong, got in, and it was great!

What encouraged you to apply to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center?
I’m interested in working for the Norwegian government, either for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or someplace where I can actually use my interest in China in a productive way. So, after college, I considered what type of education I could do that would qualify me for that work. I did an internship at the consulate in Guangzhou, where I learned a lot about foreign policy. My time there inspired me to continue developing the skills I used there in writing reports. I wanted to attain the skills and knowledge necessary to do analytical policy work with confidence. I looked at different international studies and diplomacy related programs, and then I talked to my adviser, who recognized my background in China and said that Johns Hopkins SAIS would be good for that field, so I applied.

How was your experience adjusting to the Chinese coursework? Do you have any tips for future students? 
The first semester was pretty intense. I reached a certain point where I realized that I probably cannot fully read all of my readings word for word, but I can do my best. It was helpful to accept that as a reality of studying here. Around midterms, I felt like I had it under control. This semester, because of the classes I chose, the workload is significantly less. Last semester I had four essay-based courses, but this semester I only have three essay-based courses and one with a midterm, so it doesn’t feel as stressful. There was definitely a transition period where I was stressing about my coursework, but it passed. I noticed that when I actually take the time to translate the things I don’t understand, I improve the most, and it helps me read faster later.

What has been one or two of your favorite classes this year?
How can I pick? This semester I’m really enjoying my History and Philosophy of Law in China course.  Honestly, the class is difficult at times, but the teacher is super knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the topic. It involves history and the philosophy behind the legal system, which I find really interesting. It’s fun to compare what we learn in class with how I’ve seen the legal system portrayed in the historical dramas that I enjoy watching. I really enjoyed my Chinese Anthropology class last semester as well. It had a lot of reading, but I felt like I learned a lot through the readings and the class discussions. It was not a lecture-based class, and it had a different feel compared to courses that were mainly lectures.

How has your experience been living in a bilingual community?
Sometimes it’s a little bit confusing because I’ll be talking with my roommate and we’ll both be speaking Chinese, and then suddenly we’ll switch to English, and then someone will answer in Chinese. There’s a constant back and forth in accordance with whether you can express an idea in the language you are using. If you want to improve your Chinese, it’s definitely a great environment because it’s not only about living here with Americans and people from other countries, but you are in China, which gives you lots of opportunities to speak Chinese.

If you are involved in any extracurricular activities or student groups, could you please tell us about that?
I joined Moot Court. I had never had any law or debating experience before signing up for it. It sounded like fun because usually when I present, I trail off on a tangent and then I go over time, so I thought it would improve my public speaking. I would say it was probably the most stressful course or activity I did, but it was also very rewarding. We had the chance to go to Beijing and compete against actual law school students. I learned a lot and ended up writing a long paper on the same topic for my law course. It made me want to continue studying law while I’m here. I also joined my erhu class. Last semester I was pretty busy and had to miss some classes, but this semester I’ve gone to every lesson and I’m getting better. I can almost play on the entire instrument now. I’m really enjoying it—I have this dream of playing a duet in a park here. A friend in Hong Kong started playing recently too so hopefully it will be a reality soon.

You will be doing your second year at SAIS Europe, right? What made you decide to do a year each in China and Italy, and then your final semester in Washington, D.C.?
There were several reasons. Overall, I wanted to experience additional cultures. Given that I’m aiming to do something in the Foreign Service or government-related in Norway, it’s just as useful to have a background in another European country as it is to have experience in the US. I’m extending my time in Bologna to a year so that I have a greater chance at improving my Italian because I don’t think I can learn Italian in half a year while simultaneously taking other courses. This will be my fifth year away from Europe and sometimes I don’t have the opportunity to go home for special occasions or because it’s too expensive. I am looking forward to visiting home and seeing my family more frequently. I’ve never been to Italy, and I’d love to have more experiences in other parts of Europe.

Do you have any advice for prospective students?
The Hopkins-Nanjing Center is a great place to come if you want to experience more of China and improve your Chinese skills, especially if you want the confidence to write papers or read more in Chinese. I came here because I really wanted to “bump up” my Chinese to the next level before I finished my time in China, and I can definitely do that here.

Interviewed by Cady Deck, Certificate ‘19

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Day in the Life of a Hopkins-Nanjing Center Student: Cady Deck

Certificate Student Cady Deck ’19 shares what her typical day is like at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.

Below is a brief overview of an average weekday for me at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. As a Certificate student, this semester I am taking three classes taught in Chinese and one class taught in English.

8:00 AM
In the mornings I usually go for a run around 玄武湖 (Xuanwu Lake) or along 秦淮河 (Qinhuai River). I find that running is a great way to explore the city and briefly leave the Hopkins-Nanjing Center bubble. 

9:30 AM
I’m someone who has to eat breakfast every day. I rarely make it to the cafeteria before it closes, so I usually eat in my room. I stock up on breakfast foods at 百家, the grocery store around the corner from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. My go-to breakfast is granola with yogurt and fruit.

9:50 AM
Every Monday I have a class called Ethnic Minorities in Chinese Society. Recently we’ve been reading and discussing articles about different ethnic minority groups in detail based on many different aspects, including cultural, political, and economic perspectives. This is one of my favorite classes because it is very discussion-based. Every class, one or two students gives a presentation and then we discuss them in detail, followed by that day’s planned lecture.

11:20 AM
To save time and money, I almost always eat lunch in the cafeteria. Sometimes I will go to the “secret dumpling place” on the 南大 campus, but only once or twice a month. Going to the cafeteria is a good way to catch up with friends, continue conversations with professors after class, or sit down with random people and converse in both Chinese and English.

12:00 – 2:30 PM
After lunch, I usually go to the lounge to do some homework. If I have a big paper to do or need a quieter atmosphere, I go to the 5th floor reading room. If it is a nice day outside, I’ll sit out on the terrace and read or hang out on the “quad” with people while doing my readings.

2:30 – 4:00 PM
Once a week, or twice if my homework load is light, I play basketball or soccer with Hopkins-Nanjing Center students and international students studying at Nanjing University. Now that spring has arrived, it’s impossible to not want to go outside and soak in the sun.

4:30 PM
My China on the Border class is composed of half Chinese students and half international students. Every day we cover a different aspect of border regions’ relationships with China at the local and national level. A significant part of the class is planning and participating in a spring break research trip to a border area. This trip is completely organized by the students, including choosing groups, booking flights and hotels, deciding what to study, and much more. After spring break, we will present our research to the community and write our final papers on similar topics. My group is going to Ruili, a town in Yunnan Province that borders Myanmar.

6:30 PM
I always try to eat dinner somewhere other than the cafeteria to explore the surrounding areas. Often, I eat dinner on or near the Nanjing University campus, but if I have time I’ll go to 新街口 station and eat something I can’t find near campus. On campus there are 4-5 restaurants I frequently go to, including a 汤包 (soup dumpling) restaurant, a Korean-style 拌饭 (bibimbap) place, and a Sichuan noodle restaurant.

8:00 PM – 10:30 PM
Back to the lounge or the 5th floor reading room to finish up my readings and put the finishing touches on any papers due soon. This time is also when I usually switch papers with a Chinese classmate so that we can look over each other’s papers and edit any glaring grammatical mistakes.

10:30 – 11:30 PM

I try to finish my work by around 10 or 10:30 so that I can relax for an hour or so before going to bed. One of my favorite nighttime activities is to play board games in the lounge with other students. The Hopkins-Nanjing Center has a wide variety of Chinese and English board games, such as Settlers of Catan, 围棋 (Go), Bananagrams, and 麻将 (Mahjong).

11:45 PM


Written by Cady Deck, Certificate ‘19

Thursday, May 2, 2019

The 2019 Annual Hopkins-Nanjing Center Photo Contest

For the last three years, the Hopkins-Nanjing Center has held an annual photo contest. Students submit their best photos from studying at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, 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 Travel Photo and Best Overall
Chris Vandiford, Master of Arts in International Studies ’19 

Don’t look down

Most Beautiful
Jiang Hao, HNC Certificate ’19 

 The Hassan II Mosque by the Atlantic Ocean, Casablanca, Morocco

Most Beautiful
Hayden Paulsen, HNC Certificate ’19 + Johns Hopkins SAIS MA ’20  
Chongming Island 崇明岛

Most Creative, Fan Chengyi
Master of Arts in International Studies ’20

Late Autumn at the HNC

Most Creative
Ge Yongrui, Master of Arts in International Studies ’20

Cherry blossoms on Jimingsi Road

Most HNC
John Glasgow, Master of Arts in International Studies ’19  
 “Nanjing Scene"/ “南京景色”: During my time here the weather in Nanjing has often been hard to live with, but sometimes, like in this picture I shot from my dorm window, Nanjing really can feel like home.

Most Thought-Provoking 
Lu Yuyan, HNC Certificate ’19 
  While doing field research in Yunling Village, we met a women with rough hands who was baking. Life in rural areas may be hard, but it's vivid as well.

Most Thought-Provoking
Tang Keyi , Master of Arts in International Studies ’19 

An Ethiopian Child (一个埃塞俄比亚男孩)

I took this picture while doing a fieldwork research in Hawassa, Ethiopia in August, 2018. Many Ethiopian boys risked their life to beg for money by following cars passing by their villages.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Hopkins-Nanjing Center Alumni Profile: Matthew Chitwood

Matthew Chitwood, HNC Certificate ’10, Johns Hopkins SAIS MA ’11, is currently on a two-year fellowship with the Institute of Current World Affairs to research infrastructure development and its impact on people, land, the economy, and governance in Yunnan Province. 
Tell us about being a fellow with the Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA) in Bangdong, Yunnan.
It’s almost too good to be true. ICWA asks you what you would do if you could pursue any personal and professional development opportunity for two years. My answer was to understand rural China. I’m familiar with China’s massive urban centers after living in them for over a decade. But roughly 40% of China’s population still lives in rural areas - a big number when you’re talking about the world’s most populous country. And it’s a critical demographic to understand if you want to grasp where China is coming from and where it’s going. So I’m living in a small village - I mean "350 people small" - in rural Yunnan trying to understand rural perspectives on life, China, and the world.

What’s been the most rewarding aspect of your research? The most challenging?
It’s such an honor to hear people’s stories. Before leaving the U.S. I was counseled by Jeanne Barnett (wife of A. Doak Barnett, a Johns Hopkins SAIS professor and former ICWA fellow), “Doak would talk to everyone. You should too.” And I’ve quickly learned that everyone has a story to tell and new perspectives to share. Almost every day I have conversations that challenge my preconceived notions of how people think or see the world. And the relationships that are built over those conversations are so rewarding.

That said, the loneliness is real. I’m the only foreigner and English-speaker for miles and miles and miles. The cultural barriers are significant and the depth of relationship that can be formed even over two years is limited. My neighbors all grew up together, have raised their kids together, and buried parents together. There’s nothing more for them to talk about. As a newcomer it’s hard to enter into the community and enjoy the depth of relationship that they already share or that I have experienced elsewhere in the world. That’s challenging but also so rewarding when I do see progress.

You have worked in Mainland China and Taiwan for nearly a decade with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Critical Language Scholarship Program, and CET Academic Programs, among others. Do you see yourself continuing your career in China?
My career will continue with China, though I’m not sure on which side of the Pacific. In China, you see something every day that you just don’t see every day. The sense of novelty and opportunity are still going strong. But my career decisions are driven by personal interest and opportunity for learning. So far, these have all kept me China-side, but I could see that shifting sometime. I know my mom hopes that shifts sometime.

How did your time at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and Johns Hopkins SAIS prepare you for your career and current research?
I got the best of both worlds with the Hopkins-Nanjing Center-Johns Hopkins SAIS combo. The Hopkins-Nanjing Center really strengthened my Chinese language (think academic reading and research papers) and ability to build cross-cultural relationships (see memorable moment response below). The Hopkins-Nanjing Center and Chase Bank also funded a one-month internship with a microfinance org in rural Sichuan, which piqued my interest in rural China. Then Johns Hopkins SAIS threw me into the thick of international relations gurus and development practitioners in DC coupled with an academically rigorous environment. (Econ is hard!) Johns Hopkins SAIS also organized a study trip for International Development and China Studies students to Beijing and Yunnan to better understand China’s development trajectory. It gave me access to and insights into layers of China I hadn’t explored before. And those layers are what I’m still researching and writing about now eight years later. Coincidence?
What drew you to apply to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and Johns Hopkins SAIS?
缘分吧 - destiny. I was working in Nanjing and applying to law school when I more or less stumbled upon the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. I got way more excited about studying in an environment like the Hopkins-Nanjing Center’s and potentially continuing at Johns Hopkins SAIS than I did about law school. A mentor challenged me at the time: how many people get to take two years of their life and learn deeply in an area of interest? His point: pursue your interests to the best of your ability and the rest will follow. So I did. And what I found at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and Johns Hopkins SAIS were communities of very capable people with diverse interests, international backgrounds, and language skills who were trying to forge a career path out of it all. I knew I’d made the right choice. 

What was your most memorable moment when you were at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center?

My roommate and I were intentional about developing our friendship. We always included the other in social events. We alternated Chinese-English language days so we’d both improve. And we resolved our conflicts well (i.e.: he learned that a shower curtain is used so you don't get the entire bathroom soaking wet, and I learned that when he’s in the room studying is not the best time to practice my KTV repertoire). I remember we celebrated the end of the year by going out for a meal at The Golden Hans (金汉斯), just the two of us at one of those all-you-can-eat meat BBQ places where they bring the shanks of meat to your table and slice it directly onto your plate. That restaurant was a great idea! We ate far too much. But the memorable moment was laughing over memories from the year, reminiscing over the challenges, and realizing I had a new lifelong friend. No longer was it contrived based on win-win language arrangements or social obligations - it just was. Friendship. I’ve been in China a long time and have yet to find a setting that fosters that type of trust-based, intercultural friendship. In some ways it's hard even within the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. But with time and intentionality, it can happen. And it can continue, even ten years later.

What advice would you give current or future students?

Talk to everyone. Each person at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center has a unique story, including teachers and staff. Get a coffee or share some dumplings with every single one of them. Hear their stories. Find out what makes them tick. Discover their dreams. Honor them by sharing yours. Those relationships are one of the most meaningful and valuable takeaways from your experience at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. And they last the rest of your life. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Hopkins-Nanjing Center Alumni Profile: Taylor Jones

Taylor Jones graduated from University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 2014 and received a Certificate in Chinese and American Studies in 2017 from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. Since 2017, she has worked as a marketing consultant and senior operations manager for Walland Technology Company Ltd. in Nanjing, China.

Tell us about your current role.
I am a senior operations manager at Walland, a Chinese e-commerce company that specializes in women’s fashion products. Walland has multiple brands with products that range from luxury wigs to wedding dresses and invitations, and their brands cater to mostly the European and American markets. I primarily work with the RPGShow luxury hair brand. In my role, in addition to strategic planning, I organize and prepare logistics for our offline events in Europe and the United States. These events include mini offline locations, where we partner with local hairstylists to display our products, and larger pop-up shops in places like London, New York, and Los Angeles. I also manage communication and relations with overseas partners and clients abroad. I speak with our brand ambassador, models, celebrity stylists, and regular hairstylists when issues come up. In addition to planning and communication, I provide support for miscellaneous tasks with brands throughout the company and assist with designing the webpage for our offline events.

How did your time in China and experience at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center lead you to this position?

My interest in China started from wanting to choose a language that seemed fun and difficult at the same time. As I learned Chinese, I realized how interesting the region was, and my interest grew. I ended up studying abroad in China during undergrad. My undergraduate major was business management and international business, but I always had an interest in international relations and politics. I discovered the opportunity to study international politics at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center when I was living in Atlanta after graduation. So, I went for it. While at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, a friend in Nanjing shared with me an internship opportunity at Walland after I told her that I was interested in business. I received the summer internship, and they later offered me a full-time position. At first, because I was the only native English speaker in the company, I started with proofreading and editing documents. Over time, I became more proactive about making improvements to the company’s websites, communication style, and business ideas. As they saw that I was contributing to the company, they gave me more responsibilities.

What was one of your most memorable Hopkins-Nanjing Center moments that you still think about?
The week we had the dragon boat competition and dragon boat cheer squad was very fun. That was just a really fun day of cheering on our classmates and being around other Nanjing students at Xuanwu Lake. Academically, my favorite memory was the rural development trip to Anhui province with Professor Adam Webb’s class. He took students out to a rural city to help us better understand rural development in China. Each student in his class picked a thesis topic for his or her final paper and research this topic while on the trip. My topic was about education and how it helps or fails Chinese children in the rural areas. I still think about the children and the people that I met on that trip. It was a little emotional for me.

How do the skills you learned from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center help you in your current position?
At the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, I learned how to appreciate diversity in thought because there were people who thought differently from me. I learned how to engage and work with people even if I didn’t fully agree with them. I also loved attending classes and working with my Chinese classmates. That prepared me for working in an all-Chinese work environment because I learned how to manage the cultural and communication differences between people who are not from the same region in China. So when I started working at my company, I was already familiar with general Chinese cultural mannerisms. My office is much more delicate with managing conflict and everyone is careful about expressing distaste for someone else’s work in front of everybody. Living with my Chinese roommate and interacting with my Chinese classmates at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center prepared me for this work environment. Also, I learned a lot of practical skills from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center’s career services programming. By working with the career counselor, I was able to develop my career plans and receive more clarity about my options. Every time there was a lecture on topics such as LinkedIn and interview skills, I would attend. I still use some of those skills today. My experience with career services was invaluable.

What advice would you give to current or future Hopkins-Nanjing Center students?
Be open to your life switching directions. I could have easily decided to do the internship for three months and go back home, which was my original plan. But, I realized that there was value in staying in China. Be open to making your own journey. I had to create my role and responsibilities during that first year at Walland. They were not sure what they could ask me to do and what they couldn’t ask me to do. I could have waited for them, but instead I started creating tasks for myself by volunteering for different projects and helping my coworkers. When they liked the outcome of my work, they gave me the responsibility of completing that project. Had I not been proactive, and had I not had a boss who was open to the responsibilities I wanted to take on, the opportunities I have now wouldn’t have come to me. My advice is to be very proactive and shape your journey. It really is what you decide it to be.

What advice would you give to Hopkins-Nanjing Center students who want to work in the e-commerce industry or business in China?
E-commerce is a fast and competitive industry in China, so companies have to be extremely quick to react to new trends in the beauty and fashion industry. What fascinates me about my company’s brand RPGShow is that they have gotten adept to selling a product that they themselves don’t use. They sell natural hair products and wigs and have become one of the top companies that sell these products in the United States. They don’t even use these products in China, but they have found a way to quickly adapt to the preferences of international customers. What a customer wants is fickle because it depends on fashion and entertainment trends. When Walland sees a trend, they have to predict that it’s coming and be the first to get their product out there to sell it. The ability to think quickly and react to these trends is essential for this industry in China.

As for business, try to gain work experience while you’re at Hopkins-Nanjing Center. Be open to different ways of handling and doing things in the work environment. If you come to China with a mindset of “I’ve always did it this way so I’m going to do it this way,” you’ll have a hard time. It’s sounds so clichéd but I never realized how true these things are until I actually started experiencing them. Be open to new ideas and consider opportunities that you may not have considered before.

Written By Tarela Osuobeni Hopkins-Nanjing Center Certificate’ 17, SAIS MA’19

Thursday, April 4, 2019

An Interview with the Hopkins-Nanjing Center Student Committee (Banwei)

Student blogger Cady Deck, Certificate ’19, interviews the Hopkins-Nanjing Center student committee (banwei) representatives about their experiences.

Every semester, students elect four representatives to the student committee, known as banwei (班委). There are two Chinese students, one male and one female, and two international students, also one male and one female. The banwei acts as the intermediary between the student body and the administration, advocating on behalf of the students. It deals with issues within the community as well as planning campus events such as the annual Halloween party, seasonal holiday parties, weekly coffee discussions, barbecues, etc. I talked to a few banwei representatives from last semester and this semester to learn more about their responsibilities.

The Fall banwei representatives (left) and the Spring banwei representatives (right)

Why did you decide to run for banwei?
Shelby Tuseth, banwei Fall ’18: I wanted to learn how the Hopkins-Nanjing Center works. Being a banwei representative felt like a good introduction to the campus and community. I also enjoy helping people, which is a big part of this position.

侯婧怡 Hou Jingyi, banwei Fall ’18: When I ran for banwei representative, my goal was very simple. As a Nanjing local, I wanted to use my advantages as a local to help people solve any everyday problems they may encounter living in Nanjing. I also wanted to meet more students and have fun together.

张垚垚 Zhang Yaoyao, banwei Spring ’19: I ran because I wanted to organize more cross-cultural activities and foster the creation of more cross-cultural friendships.

What are the most rewarding and challenging parts of being a banwei representative?

Sydney Tucker, banwei Spring ’19: The most challenging part is definitely pleasing everyone. The most rewarding part is giving people a voice and creating a closer community.

Yaoyao: Having to juggle between intensive courses, banwei duties, and other responsibilities is no easy task, but it has pushed me to improve my time management skills and productivity. The most rewarding part is that I get to make more friends from the activities we organize.

Jingyi: I think the most challenging part was that every time we organized an event, we spent a lot of time and effort preparing. Initially, I was worried that no one would be willing to help, but actually all the students were very supportive and willing to help us. This assistance moved me and encouraged me to work even harder as a banwei representative.

What is/will be your greatest accomplishment as banwei?
Shelby: The movie screening we organized in the student lounge. The lounge was packed with people and it ended up being a big community bonding moment. It was very representative of the community fostered here at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.

Sydney: This year the dragon boat festival happens before summer break. We already have a WeChat group with over 30 people who want to participate in the dragon boat racing competition. I’m super excited to participate and to help organize the team!

Jingyi: The first semester, everyone had really high expectations for banwei. I was always worried that banwei wouldn’t meet those expectations. But one night my roommate told me she really liked the activities we’d organized. She felt like the activities allowed her to meet a lot of new friends and also alleviate the stresses of being a graduate student. That was a great moment for me and made me feel like all the work was worth it.

What would you say to people who are thinking of running for banwei?
Sydney and Shelby: If you have any interest, it’s worth a shot. It’s a great way to get involved in the community. You get to learn about both the Chinese and international side in depth. It’s also a good way to get a feel for a real-world job, where you will have to prioritize, make compromises, and feel stressed. But it’s worth it for the experience!

Yaoyao: Banwei is not a glorious title you run for so you can put it on your resume. It is about caring for the community and being willing to take the time and effort to serve the community. It is about making more friends and making the Center a better community. Make sure you are aware of the serious responsibilities before you decide to run.

Banwei is definitely a lot of work, but I’d encourage prospective students to consider this excellent opportunity to be a community leader. As a member of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center community, I have certainly benefited from all of banwei’s hard work last semester and this semester, and I’m excited for what else is planned this semester!

Written by Cady Deck, Certificate ’19

Friday, March 29, 2019

Winter Break at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center

Student blogger Sam Olson talks about what members of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center community did over Winter Break.

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center academic calendar includes a number of breaks to celebrate both Chinese and American holidays. Our longest break, in the winter falls from early January to mid-February to coincide with Chinese New Year and gives students the opportunity to intern, travel abroad, or go back home to spend time with family and friends. Below is a snapshot of how some students spent their winter break.

“I spent almost the whole break interning at The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Beijing office. Despite working for most of the break, it was totally worth it. I liaised with the secretaries of TNC China board members to confirm the board members’ participation in TNC activities. In addition, I helped work in conjunction with the TNC Africa Office to design three visits to Kenya, Namibia, and Botswana. Now I have a better understanding of how international NGOs work in China!” - Xu Ci, Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS) 2020, International Politics 

  Xu Ci (MAIS ’20) outside The Nature Conservancy office in Beijing, China.

 “I met up with my classmate, Amy Bodner (MAIS ’20) in Reno, Nevada, for four days of fun, including skiing, hiking, and shopping. Amy and I went to the famous valley casinos, where I taught Amy how to play Blackjack, and we even won a hundred dollars! Aside from that, I spent the rest of my time in Montana, with my folks, and in Iowa, visiting a potential employer. I had two goals, skiing and writing my thesis, both of which were successful.” - Andrew Rankin, MAIS 2019, International Politics

 Amy Bodner (MAIS’20) and Andrew Rankin (MAIS’19) skiing and snowboarding in Reno, Nevada.

“我寒假的时候回老家乡去,跟父母在一起。差不多每天傍晚我都会和爸爸出去散步,这也是我第一次主动找机会和他深入聊我的想法和各种各样的心情。其实他比我想象中的更加理解我,拥有这样的家人让我觉得很幸运。” - Zou Yue, HNC Certificate 2019

“At the start of winter break, I headed straight for home. Soon after touching down in Boston, I retraced my old stomping grounds in the city on my way to reunite with my mother and brother. I then headed to South Carolina to visit my father and grandmother for a belated celebration of her 90th birthday. Together, we looked at family photographs, some through an old-fashioned slide projector, and carefully unfurled family letters dating back to the 1940s and even the late 1800s. Returning back up north to fresh snow, I continued my travels back in time by hitting the ski slopes of my youth in the Berkshires. When it was time to head back to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, I took a pit stop in Shanghai to visit old friends – a newly expecting couple who had first met at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, as well as fast friends I met during my work days in Wuhan who had just welcomed their baby boy to the world. Having celebrated my own birthday over break as well, I returned to Nanjing with a vow to live the last year of my twenties to the fullest!” - Randall Telfer, HNC Certificate 2019 + Johns Hopkins SAIS MA 2020

“I spent most of my break at home in Moscow. It was nice getting to breathe fresh air again, and I did have a great time relaxing with my friends at a Russian banya (a Russian-style sauna where people hit themselves or each other with branches to promote good circulation). While I was in Moscow there was a record amount of snow followed by sunny weather, which made for awesome walks around the city. I noticed that Moscow’s most famous and historic shopping mall was decorated in a Chinese New Year theme for the first time ever, and I saw a lot of Chinese tourists there (the stores there also accept WeChat and Alipay now). Probably the coolest part of my break was randomly running into my own advertising poster for Haier when I walked by their official store in Moscow. I never imagined any of the posters or ads from modelling jobs I did in China before would pop up somewhere abroad. I guess you can say I was constantly reminded of China's growing global presence even in a place far away from its borders.” - Dmitry Bergoltsev, HNC Certificate 2019 + Johns Hopkins SAIS MA 2020.

Dmitry Bergoltsev (HNC Certificate’19 +SAIS MA ’20) at the Haier store in Moscow, Russia.
Sam Olson, Master of Arts in International Studies ’20

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Moot Court at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center

Student blogger Hope Parker, MAIS ’20, describes the different opportunities to get involved with moot court, a law competition where students participate in international law court or arbitration simulations, at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.

At the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, many students join one of the moot court teams as an extracurricular activity. Moot court is an international law competition where students participate in preparing and arguing case simulations in front of judges. Each moot court competition has at least two major events during the year: the memorials deadline and the oral competition. Memorials are written arguments that must be submitted to the judges prior to the oral round. The memorials lay out legal arguments that become the basis for the oral round, which gives moot court members serving as oralists a chance to focus on their public speaking and oral arguments. During the oral rounds, teams compete against each other by making their arguments to judges who ask each oralist questions. Law schools frequently have moot court teams to help prepare students who are interested in litigation. Although the Hopkins-Nanjing Center is not a law school, it also gives students a chance to learn about international law through moot court and law coursework.

At the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, there are four separate teams that compete, each focusing on different types of law and corresponding to four different moot court competitions, Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Moot Court, Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, Price Media Law Moot Court, and Jessup International Law Moot Court. Although team members do not need to have prior legal studies, it is helpful to have a foundation in international law by taking a class in the law concentration at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. As an international politics concentrator, I joined the Jessup team because learning more about international law will benefit my political studies. Joining a moot court team is a useful way to learn about law as a field you may be interested in pursuing after graduating or to complement your other interests.

Price Moot Court Team

International Humanitarian Law Moot Court (IHL): The IHL team’s competition is the earliest in the fall semester, meaning students have to begin preparing very soon after arriving in Nanjing. Team members may also take the International Humanitarian Law course at the same time to help prepare for the competition. This year the IHL team did quite well in the China round and advanced to the competition in Hong Kong, where they competed against teams from around the Asia-Pacific region.

Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot (Vis): Unlike the other three teams, where team members make oral arguments to judges, in competition against another team, the Vis team participates in arbitration, giving teams an opportunity to learn about international commercial law. This year’s problem focused on an international dispute between horse-breeding companies. The team went to Beijing in October to participate in the arbitration.

Price Media Law Moot Court Competition (Price): The Price Moot Court Competition focuses on human rights issues, with a particular concentration on freedom of expression. As people have increasingly used technology and online platforms for expression, joining the Price team can provide a way to learn about how the law governs these issues and how it may adapt to changing circumstances. The Price team also competed in Beijing during November.

Written by Hope Parker, Master of Arts in International Studies,’20

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

From Shanghai Lu to Massachusetts Ave

Hopkins-Nanjing Center Certificate + Johns Hopkins SAIS MA students reflect on their student life experiences in Nanjing and DC.

“In my experience, life in DC tends to be more fast-paced than in Nanjing. In DC, there are multiple events going on every day at Johns Hopkins SAIS, nearby think tanks, and other places; you sometimes have to pass up opportunities because there’s so much going on. Life at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center offered a bit more time to do things like take an evening walk around the city with friends. Getting to experience both cities is one of the best parts of being a student at both the HNC and Johns Hopkins SAIS.”  - Brian Hart, HNC Certificate ’18, Johns Hopkins SAIS MA ’19 

“We were just talking the other day about how much we actually miss Uncle Pizza (a pizza restaurant in Nanjing).... It was great seeing a whole cohort of familiar Hopkins-Nanjing Center faces when I arrived in DC for the first week of classes — it has been great getting to know the greater Johns Hopkins SAIS community while having a close-knit group of classmates from Nanjing.”- Gwendolyn Snider, HNC Certificate ’18, Johns Hopkins SAIS MA ’19 

“My favorite thing about Hopkins-Nanjing Center, aside from gathering on the yangtai [balcony] or courtyard with my friends, was walking out of the gates and having everything within a block’s distance, whether it was the delicious baozi shop, the Taiwanese chicken restaurant, or my favorite Baijia chaoshi [supermarket]. Mass Ave/Johns Hopkins SAIS life is also great, but in a different way. I like that the campus is more spread out and I run into my friends walking from Nitze to Rome or when grabbing lunch in the Galley Cafe.” – Kimya Nia, HNC Certificate ’18, Johns Hopkins SAIS Master of International Economics and Finance (MIEF) ’19

“Life at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center included dou-jiang [soy milk] and jian-bing [savory pancakes]. Life at Johns Hopkins SAIS includes coffee and more coffee.” – Stephanie Eyocko, HNC Certificate ’18, Johns Hopkins SAIS MA ’20 

“What I miss about the HNC is the ability to learn Chinese at every second (even when I really didn't want to!) and having a different perspective literally at my doorstep, or even on the bed across the room from me, courtesy of my roommate.”- Naomi Garcia, HNC Certificate ’17, Johns Hopkins SAIS MA ’19 

“At Johns Hopkins SAIS, policy debates, academic research seminars and conferences are happening all the time. I have increased my knowledge and gotten a better understanding of the process of policy decision by going to these events. But I always miss the Hopkins-Nanjing Center community. I miss the times we shared different viewpoints on the latest news during lunch time and group classes organized and taught by my classmates.” - Jiahui Wang, HNC Certificate ’17, Johns Hopkins SAIS MA ’20 

Written By Tarela Osuobeni Hopkins-Nanjing Center Certificate’ 17 SAIS MA’19