Thursday, July 13, 2017

2017 MAIS Thesis Defense Topics

At the end of the 2016-2017 Academic year nearly 40 Hopkins-Nanjing Center MAIS students defended their theses. The wide variety of compelling topics speaks to the intellectual curiosity and wide-ranging academic interests of the HNC’s unique Chinese and international student body. While at the HNC, MAIS students choose a concentration area from among the six different areas of study offered: International Politics; International Economics; International and Comparative Law; Energy, Resources and Environment; Chinese Studies; and American Studies. During their two years of study, international and Chinese MAIS students are required to research, write, and orally defend a thesis in their “target language.” Chinese students complete their thesis in English and international students complete their thesis in Chinese. To help prepare for thesis research and writing, MAIS students have thesis advisers in their target language and participate in thesis prep courses that focus on research approaches and connecting their thesis topics to larger questions of China, the U.S. and the world.

Below is a sample of theses that highlight the breadth and depth of research being conducted by HNC students who graduated this spring.

Chinese Studies
  • Sustainable Tourism Development and the Protection of Xizhou Old Town's 'Living' Cultural Heritage
  • Issues of Gender Equality in Chinese Athletics: An Analysis of Barriers to Female Grassroots Sports Participation in China
International Politics
  • The Dragon's Journey: An Inquiry into the Value Preferences of the Chinese Government under the Socialist Core Values System
  • The Responsibility to Protect' and China's Humanitarian Intervention Strategy: A Case Study of Libya and Syria
International Economics 
  • Forecasting Future Trends of the Beer Industry in China: A Game Theory Analysis of Competitive Strategy
  • Determinants of Age at First Marriage for Women and International Comparisons

Comparative and International Law
  • Prospects of Terminating the NME-Methodology in Antidumping Cases: The Challenge Ahead
  • Breaking the Silence: The Role of International Law with Respect to Conflict-Related Sexual Violence 
Energy, Resources, and Environment
  • Green Credit Policies in China: Overcoming Current Obstacles in Implementation
  • Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Impacts of Battery Energy

To learn more about the HNC MAIS thesis experience, check out this post to hear from MAIS alumni about the challenges and successes they encountered throughout the process.  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Meet the Hopkins-Nanjing Center's U.S.-China Exchange Scholars

 In honor of the HNC’s 30th anniversary, the HNC has created the U.S.-China Exchange Scholars Fellowship for alumni of U.S. government-supported programs for Chinese language study. These programs include, but are not limited, to the Critical Language Scholarship, Boren Award for International Study, Chinese Language Flagship Program, and the National Security Language Initiative for Youth.

We are pleased to introduce our first five U.S.-China Exchange Scholars for the 2017-2018 academic year who have studied Chinese through a number of U.S. government-supported programs. 

Emily Rivera
Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program (GPA)
HNC Certificate ‘18

Emily Rivera graduated from Hamilton College in 2016 with dual concentrations in Government and Chinese. The daughter of two first-generation Colombian immigrants, Emily grew up speaking both English and Spanish. Largely because of this, Emily developed a keen interest in intercultural dialogue at an early age and later began studying Chinese as a sophomore at Hamilton College.

After three semesters of in-class language training, Emily earned a Fulbright Hays Group Projects Abroad Program (GPA) Scholarship, which provided her the opportunity to attend the ACC Intensive Language & Culture Program at Beijing's Minzu University while at Hamilton College. While at Minzu University, Emily worked on a research paper chronicling China's wealth gap. Emily developed this research and deployed it into her Honors Chinese thesis at Hamilton College, titled: 中国“富二代”和“穷二代”现象之分析."

Emily chose the HNC to gain a well-rounded experience studying the economy and politics of China through intensive language immersion in an exclusively Chinese learning environment. She is very grateful for the opportunity to continue her studies as a U.S.-China Exchange Scholar at the HNC. Using lessons from the HNC, she hopes one day to add necessary value to the growth and success of U.S. relations abroad as a Foreign Service Officer. Originally from Miami, Florida, Emily currently lives in Honolulu, Hawai`i where she works as an AmeriCorps Advocate at the Legal Aid Society of Hawai`i.

Landon Heid
Foreign Language Area Studies Scholarship (FLAS)
HNC Certificate ‘18

Landon Heid grew up in Midwest, where he attended the University of Missouri, obtaining degrees in Finance and Banking and Political Science.  In summer 2014, Landon had his first experience with China, spending a summer in Xiamen, China interning at a Fortune 500 company working in currency hedging.  Soon thereafter, Landon began studying Chinese and in 2017 earned a graduate degree in International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington D.C.

During summer 2016, Landon was awarded the Foreign Language Area Studies scholarship to study Chinese through the rigorous Princeton In Beijing program.  During the past year, Landon served as the Human Rights Desk Officer at the U.S. Department of State, where he had the opportunity to discuss U.S.-China policy at the National Security Council and prepare congressional testimony for the Secretary of State and Ambassador to China.  Landon was drawn to the HNC after his time working in China-policy circles, where he discovered many of the most dedicated and knowledgeable “China Hands” had graduated from the HNC.  Given the history, quality, and reputation of the HNC, Landon believes attending the Hopkins-Nanjing Center will be a real asset to his future career as a Foreign Service Officer.

Mary Leah Milnes
Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program
HNC Certificate ’18 /John Hopkins SAIS MA’19

Mary Leah Milnes first learned about the Hopkins-Nanjing Center while studying abroad in Beijing with CET Academic Programs as a college sophomore in fall of 2012. At the time, her Chinese was only good enough to recognize the characters for jianbing. However, she saw in the HNC and SAIS a unique opportunity to wed her interest in pursuing a career in foreign affairs and U.S.-China relations to long-term study of the country and language.

An aspiring China Hand, Mary Leah continued to pursue her study of Mandarin and her goal of graduate study at the HNC by studying Chinese intensively in Harbin with CET, majoring in Political Science (Comparative Politics) and Asian Studies at Vanderbilt University and completing the U.S. Department of State's Critical Language Scholarship Program at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou in 2014. Thanks to these efforts, she can confidently identify purveyors not only of jianbing but also of dongbei cai and the legendary Lanzhou Lamian.

After graduating, she interned at the National Committee on United States-China Relations and the Asia Society before working as a research analyst for fintech firm ValuePenguin's Asia division. Mary Leah looks forward to the next few years, which she will spend attaining a Certificate in China Studies from the HNC and an MA in Strategic Studies from Johns Hopkins SAIS.

Stephanie Gruetze
National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) Program
HNC Certificate ‘18

Stephanie Gruetze is from Belton, Missouri and first started learning Chinese during her senior year of high school through courses at the local community college. It was during this time she found out about NSLI-Y. Stephanie attended NSLI-Y’s Summer 2013 program in Chengdu, Sichuan where she fell in love with China and the Chinese language. During her undergraduate career at Truman State University, Stephanie continued to study Chinese and spent a year abroad in Nanchang, Jiangxi while pursuing her degree in Agriculture Science. At the HNC, Stephanie wants to continue to develop her Chinese skills before going on to hopefully pursue a career combining agriculture and Chinese.

Christian Flores
Chinese Language Flagship Program, CUNY Hunter College
Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program (GPA) Scholarship
Boren Fellowship for International Study

Studying Chinese became a passion for Christian since he first began to study the language in high school for four years. He remembers the welcoming atmosphere in the mornings at East-West School of International Studies in Queens, NY when he would enter the Chinese classroom and delve into pinyin, characters, sentence structures, calligraphy, and traditional Chinese music. The inspiration and support that he received from his two Chinese teachers reinforced the idea that he should go on to continue studying the language in college. At CUNY Hunter College, and as a part of the Chinese Language Flagship Program, Christian was able to further pursue his passion. If studying hours and hours of Chinese at Hunter was not enough, Christian was able to apply his knowledge of Chinese throughout his study abroad experiences in different parts of China. In the summer of 2012, Christian studied abroad with the International Chinese Language Program at National Taiwan University. In 2013, Christian was awarded the Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad Scholarship to study and intern in Xi’an. Christian completed his capstone year at Tianjin Normal University, which culminated in his achievement of a level 3 on the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) and earning a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese Language & Literature and Political Science.

Although Christian achieved advanced language proficiency after graduating college, he knew that his studies on China and the Chinese language were far from over. During his final semester at Hunter, Christian decided to apply to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center (HNC) which offers a Master of Arts in International Studies while studying in Nanjing. After being awarded the Boren Fellowship, Christian made his decision to pursue graduate studies at the HNC. His strong interest in Chinese and politics led him to the right place that would deepen his studies on China. Christian has taken courses such as China’s Development and Environment, Sino-U.S. Relations, Financial Crises, and Ethnic Minorities in Chinese Society, all of which have provided him with a more well-rounded understanding of China. Christian did not only decide to study at the HNC because it is a repertoire for research on China, but also because it is a cross-cultural bridge for people from different backgrounds to engage in discourse and create mutual understanding. In his final year at the HNC, Christian hopes to complete his Master’s thesis on the potential of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank through a comparative study of China’s past investment ventures. Christian strongly believes that his journey of studying Chinese and China could not have been possible without the help and support provided by institutions as well as organizations such as the East-West School, the HNC, the Flagship Program, Fulbright, and Boren that sow the seeds for language study along with the fostering of global citizenship.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

2017 Nanjing City Dragon Boat Festival

During the Dragon Boat holiday in June, the HNC participated in Nanjing’s annual dragon boat race and held the annual end of the year barbecue at the HNC.  Levi Johnson, one of the members of the student committee (banwei), was instrumental in organizing the barbecue and also participated on the cheer team for the dragon boat festival. For this post, I have asked Levi share his memories from the photos of the Dragon Boat Festival weekend.

The Dragon Boat team competing in their festival race
Levi: First what comes to mind when I look at this photo from the race is teamwork and the team spirit of the HNC that was represented by the group. I see the preparation they put into that day. I see the workouts we had together, I see the sweat, the breakfast, the team meetings, the 油条 and pancakes, and I see the leadership of Mykael and Maguire. Most of all, I see the pride of representing the HNC. 

I remember the excitement of watching the team give their utmost effort to win those races and their excitement afterwards. They encouraged each other.  I see a particular story of one member who got hit in the face with a fish during the race. I remember Jake teaching the team how to row a paddle. Most people looked at him like it was obvious, but then realized how difficult it was in actual practice. By the time the race came, we had perfected it.

The cheer team performing at the barbecue
Levi: I remember the first time we got together to discuss this dance and how many initial ideas were tossed out. At the time, I remember kind of doubting myself. How in the world will this come together to be anything productive? How will we put something together that is beautiful to listen to and watch? There were so many different ideas, songs, and directions. I reflect on the importance of Taylor and Nathan in leading the way—Nathan put together the music by taking all the ideas and each person’s particular song interests and mixed them together. Every song was intended to solo out different people, so we would all have our moments to shine. He did a really good job of putting it together with Taylor. Taylor is an amazing dance teacher and encouraged us all to be ourselves and telling us it’s okay to mess up. She always said, “If you mess up, don’t worry. You just made your own solo.” She gave her utmost effort and was always so positive in helping us learn the routine.

I see a lot of teamwork, again. I remember the excitement of performing together. Everyone had their own flavor and their unique style of dance. None of us really had much dance experience at all, except for Taylor, and she really gave us confidence to perform well in a short time and to represent the HNC to our best ability.

End of the year barbecue
Levi: There was a great amount of preparation and hard put into the end-of-the-year barbecue by the four of us on the student committee (banwei) who planned the event. I’m also thankful for the administration’s help particularly in organizing it all. A lot of good conversations about the semester and plans for the summer were had over good food and good music. I feel professors and students alike enjoyed the break amidst pre-finals. It was time to relax and catch up and look forward to the summer and each of our coming plans.

The burgers and hot dogs, grilled by the grill masters, provided an experience in taste that is not natural to China but very familiar to many international students.  I believe overall it provided insight into the American barbecue experience to our Chinese classmates. I felt, for a little while, that I was in America with the smell of the charcoal on the grill and the feeling of summertime. We sat on the grass and listed to the band while others were played Frisbee on the lawn. It truly was a perfect way to cap off the Dragon Boat Festival weekend. It was great to see both Chinese and American students having a good time over delicious food.

Written by Tarela Osuobeni, Certificate '17

Thursday, June 15, 2017

2017 HNC Commencement

On June 9, the Hopkins-Nanjing Center held its thirty-first commencement to celebrate the hard work of the certificate and MAIS students. Congratulations to the HNC class of 2017!

This year the HNC was proud to host three alumni from the graduating class of 1995: Qi Kezhan, Josh Perlman, and Helen Yang. Graduates, professors, staff and assembled friends and family clearly enjoyed the sincere and meaningful stories that the speakers shared of their life at the HNC and how connections made at the HNC transformed their lives and careers.

Chinese Co-Director He Chengzhou
 The ceremony kicked off with opening remarks by Chinese Co-Director, He Chengzhou. He thanked the students for a great year and wished them luck for the future. Chinese Co-Director He and American Co-Director Davies then recognized the Class Committees from the fall and spring semesters for their hard work.

Josh Perlman delivering commencement address
Josh Perlman (HNC ’95), Managing Director at Branded Retail Tristate Holdings Limited, gave a commencement address reminding graduates of the many doors that have now been opened for them as new members of the HNC Alumni network. He also addressed the current global political climate and took the opportunity to discuss the importance of globalization, and how HNC graduates can use their unique education and deeper understanding of Sino-U.S. relations to create opportunities for growth and lead a world that is more “tolerant, peaceful, and prosperous.” Of course, Mr. Perlman also shared some anecdotes about life during his time as a student at the HNC where he met his wife, Yan Yunqing (HNC ’95)—his next-door neighbor on the third floor of the HNC residence hall.

Qi Kezhan delivering commencement address
Following Mr. Perlman, Qi Kezhan (HNC ’95), Chairman and CEO of Beijing Mountain Capital Group and Merger China Group gave a commencement address reflecting on his time at the HNC and urged students to seize opportunities that present themselves. He said that his time at the HNC changed his life, and the HNC is a place for broadening global points of view and eliminating discrimination. Not only did his time here enable him to learn and understand different cultures more deeply, but also to better understand the world and make him appreciate China even more.

Yang Zhong delivering congratulatory remarks
Yang Zhong, Nanjing University’s Senior Vice Chancellor, delivered congratulatory remarks to the students. He noted the great achievements of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center over the past thirty-one years, and reemphasized the pioneering value of the HNC to Sino-US relations. He stressed the value for the HNC to continue “to help the American people understand the real China, and to help Chinese people understand the real America.”

Lyu Xiaoyu, a Chinese MAIS student, and Joaquin Matek, an American MAIS student, delivered remarks in their target language to their peers. These speeches were well received and enjoyed by students, as they highlighted some of the most memorable moments from this past year at the HNC.

Below is a transcript of Lyu Xiaoyu’s speech:

“Fellow classmates, professors, distinguished guests, good afternoon! I’m Xiaoyu, a graduating master’s student. I feel deeply honored to deliver this speech on behalf of the graduating class of 2017. I also feel honored yet bemused about the fact that I am speaking in front of my family in a language they don’t even understand. Does that mean I can say whatever I want?

In the past year, many of us have developed deep friendships. However, today is the day for us to bid farewell to people who will always have a place in our hearts. I always find it fascinating to recall the first time I met someone when the time comes to say goodbye. Do you still remember what your friends were like when you first met them in September 2016? What brought you together? Maybe it was a group presentation or that first assignment in your target language; maybe you were roommates getting used to each other’s quirks. Perhaps you connected at the Halloween party when every one was at their spookiest, or the New Year’s Eve Celebration at Zifeng tower where the guys were dressed like Wall Street elites and the ladies like Oscar nominees. I know I won’t forget the BBQ. Eli, Jake, and Carlos were super hot that day grilling food for us under the sun. I will definitely endorse you guys on LinkedIn as grill masters. In addition, we had some great teams representing the HNC: a basketball team that had the ladies screaming, a dragon boat team that would make Admiral Zheng He proud, and of course our laladui, aka cheer squad champs. You guys did an awesome job creating connections between every HNCer.

Lyu Xiaoyu giving her speech
 The HNC is also a place for us to develop a keener perception of what is going on in the world. In the span
of two semesters, we have experienced an upheaval in global affairs: a dramatic transition in the White House, a failed gambit by the Italian prime minister, an impeachment in South Korea straight out of a Korean drama, and a dark horse victory in France. Every time we rack our brains to write a paper on these issues, we are not simply finishing a task for a grade. Instead, during the writing process, we think deeply about these problems, gradually sharpening our perception of the world. Such a mindset is of great significance, because as Francis Bacon once said: “Studies pass into and influence manners.” What we have learned and experienced at the HNC will be internalized into our value systems and personalities.

Today is the day to say goodbye. No more of Margie’s singing or Taylor’s dancing, no more boxing classes with Corey or Korean lessons with Tim. No more of Professor PAT’s contagious laugh, or Professor Joe’s endless weekly posts. Each of us is both driver and passenger on the bus of life. For the past year, we pulled over at a stop called the HNC and invited other passengers to get on our bus. Now is the time for those passengers to get off and continue driving their own buses. However, this isn’t the only bus stop in the journey of life. We will definitely keep in touch, and maybe even catch a ride on each other’s buses again. That is why this ceremony is called a “commencement”, since it is not just an ending, but also the beginning of something new. Thank you!”

This was followed by Joaquin Matek’s speech:

Joaquin Matek giving his speech




在有些事情上,我们比较容易达成共识。比如说,我们都认为最好不要把崭新的白衬衫放进第一台洗衣机。然而,在其他一些事情上,我们未必会同意对方的看法。比如说,人生的意义究竟是什么,哪个政党值得支持,Bob Dylan的哪首歌最好听?每个人的想法都不一样,



有一件事你们应该已经知道了,但我不妨再次提醒一下,那就是,你们都是美女帅哥!不仅如此,你们真的都有“两把刷子”,只要刻苦努力,一定能大有作为。千万别辜负了自己的潜力,要把它充分发挥出来,让这个世界更好一点。勿以善小而不为,要相信滴水成河、百川归海。你们都有自己的梦想,我祝愿你们坚持做君子,自强不息地为梦想而奋斗。  谢谢大家!”

Co-Director Davies delivering closing remarks

Finally, American Co-Director David Davies delivered closing remarks about the uniqueness of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and the important educational work that we do here every year. The Co-Directors and the commencement speakers then walked up on stage and began to give out the certificates and diplomas.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

UNEP-UNIDO Workshop on Green Sustainable Industry in Nanjing

On May 10-11, the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) and UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) jointly held a workshop in Nanjing, China in order to develop a Green Industry Sustainable Progress (GISP) Index to be adopted within China, and potentially employed throughout the world.

Professor Roger Raufer, Energy, Resources, and Environment (ERE) Resident Professor at HNC, and Jiwoon Choi, an ERE Certificate/SAIS MA student, were invited to participate in the workshop. Professor Liu Beibei, who teaches at Nanjing University and HNC, was also invited to present her ongoing work on the development of sustainable industry indicators for Jiangsu province.

On the first day, participants reviewed a list of potential indicators UNIDO had initially compiled for Jiangsu province in China, as well as existing composite indexes and their methodologies (e.g. UN Human Development Index, UNEP Global Environmental Progress, UNIDO Competitive Industrial Performance, and the China Green Development Index). Subsequent sessions focused on discussing the pros and cons of each index, which methodology would be optimal for the GISP index, as well as how the lack of availability and quality of data might impact the quality of the index.

On the second day, participants discussed which variables should be included in the index, as well as what the appropriate aggregation method might be within the GISP index. Potential variables were divided into the three key dimensions associated with sustainable development: social, economic, and environmental.

Professor Raufer’s presentation focused on work he had done during his time at the UN’s Division for Sustainable Development in New York, as well as follow up work he performed for the IAEA in Vienna and UN ESCAP in Bangkok.  This traced the historical role that energy played in the original set of sustainable development indicators (only three indicators!); to an expanded set designed to help address national energy planning (30 indicators); to a specific focus on electrical power sector development within Asia (59 indicators).

Professor Liu presented her ongoing work on UNEP’s Global Economy Progress (GEP) measurements in Jiangsu Province. She showed how the GEP measured actual progress achieved relative to initial targets, and showed that Jiangsu’s GEP index for 2015 was 0.7521 (a score between 0 and 1 indicates that there has been partial progress, but that not all targets have been achieved. A score higher than 1 means all targets have been surpassed). She noted that at the current stage, it was more productive to compare different regions’ progress within Jiangsu, instead of comparing progress among provinces.

One key issue that emerged was whether the proposed GISP index should include a social variable (e.g. number of employees in the manufacturing sector), and if so, how it should be measured. As the day progressed, participants eventually settled on following an aggregation methodology more similar to UNEP’s GEP than the HDI, and proposed the development of an environmentally-adjusted manufacturing value added (MVA) indicator to reflect differences across various manufacturing sectors.

UNEP and UNIDO’s Nanjing workshop provided valuable lessons and insights into how “sustainable development” can be defined and measured, especially when applying the concept to a specific context—in this case, the industrial sector. The workshop also revealed the complexity of developing composite indexes, by showing how assumptions made at various levels (e.g. Are the data sources reliable? Are there differences in data collection methodologies? Is this indicator the best way to measure this variable?) could compromise the ultimate effectiveness of the index. The value of using indices (Is it to promote competition among the parties being measured? To bring attention to weak spots? To highlight model performers?) was also brought into question. Overall, the workshop induced productive comments from all participants involved touching upon all of these important topics. In the near future, we may look forward to the development of a robust GISP index that can steer our industries in a more sustainable direction.

Participants in the workshop included representatives from the University of British Columbia, the Beijing Institute of Technology, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Zhenjiang Environmental Protection Bureau, the China Quality Certification Center, and the Global Green Growth Institute.

Written by Jiwoon Choi, Certificate/SAIS MA student 

Jiwoon Choi is a Certificate/SAIS MA student concentrating in ERE, currently finishing her first year in Nanjing, China. She will be interning with the Energy Division of UN ESCAP this summer in Bangkok, Thailand, before joining SAIS DC in the fall for the MA portion of her program.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

HNC Alumni Profile: Andrew Anderson-Sprecher

Andrew Anderson-Sprecher, HNC Certificate 2006 and SAIS MA 2007, reflects back on his time at the HNC and his experience working for the American Institute in Taiwan. 

Tell us about your current role.
I am currently serving as the Acting Agricultural Section Chief at the American Institute in Taiwan.

How did your experience at the HNC prepare you for this work?
My experience at HNC prepared me for my work by giving me an in-depth understanding of China's economy and politics and rock solid Chinese language skills.   This was invaluable in helping me get job offers and making me successful in the jobs I took. 

What was your most memorable moment when you were at the HNC?
My most memorable experience was getting to see a Chinese court room as part of my judicial systems class.  It was a remarkable education on how China's legal system works.

What advice would you give for current or future students at the HNC?

Focus on building expertise rather than on the specific job you want.  There are great opportunities to work on (and in) China in the government, private sector, NGOs, and academia.  Learn the language well, but don't rely on that by itself to get a job.  You need subject matter expertise and strong language skills. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Day in the Life of an HNC Student: Tarela Osuobeni

Student life at the HNC is filled with many different events that are dependent on specific interests and community involvement! Here’s a snippet of my typical weekday at the HNC. Enjoy!

9:00am: I wake up and head to find breakfast on 金银街. It’s a street right outside of HNC’s East entrance and it usually has different vendors selling 煎饼 or 包子 for breakfast in the morning. This morning I grab some steamed buns filled with veggies and an egg soaked in spiced tea with soybean milk. Yum!

10:00am: After eating breakfast and getting ready for the day, I go outside into the HNC courtyard to study for my Chinese History Since 1949 class. I start a chapter of 《暴风雨的记忆》 an account on Qin Xiao’s experience during the 1960s Cultural Revolution.

11:40am: I head to the cafeteria for lunch. Usually the cafeteria opens from 11:15 to 12:30 so often times people head straight over after their morning class! After lunch, I go back outside into the courtyard to relax, talk and continue reading for my afternoon classes.

1:00pm: Strategic Studies class in Chinese starts in the West building where classes are! Today, we talked about the U.S. approach to grand strategy and operational strategy by considering war history and different characteristics of American culture.

2:30pm: Class finishes and I head downstairs to wait for an event at 3pm. I surf the internet for more information on a non-profit in order to prepare for a job opportunity I’d like to apply. My attention shifts when one of my friends comes and sits down next to me waiting for the event. We briefly catch up as we wait.

3:00pm: I attend an event on China-US Relations after Xi-Trump Meeting, a talk by Dr. Shen Dingli from Fudan University. He gives his observations about the outcome of the Mar-a-lago meeting between the two presidents through an animated informative speech. Through analysis and critique, he concludes that despite the issues that the two countries face in upholding the One China Policy, regulating the border tax and avoiding war at China’s doorstep, the relationship is destined for greatness with a few bumps.

4:30pm: Chinese History Since 1949 class in Chinese begins! Professor Liu first continues the lecture on Cultural Revolution from last class. Two students act out the scene where Mao meets Nixon before we talk about the U.S.-China rapprochement.

6:00pm: Class ends and I head out to dinner with a Chinese classmate and an American classmate from class. Our friend Yang Lu takes us to a dumpling restaurant on Nanjing’s campus that’s discreetly placed but soooo yummy!!

7:15pm: We get back to the HNC and I briefly join a meeting about the Nanjing Wall Walk event on Saturday! Co-director Davies talks to us about what to expect on during the walk on and around the old Nanjing City Wall.

8:00pm: I attend dance/cheerleading practice with friends for the Dragon Boat race. Even though I’m not dancing, I go to support and have fun!

9:00pm: I Skype a friend from home, then start to prepare for bed and class, which starts at 9:50am the next day.

12:15am: I lay my head down and catch up with my roommate about her day before I slip into a deep sleep. The next day waits!

Written by Tarela Osuobeni, Certificate '17

Friday, May 19, 2017

2017 HNC Nanjing Wall Walk

Last weekend, I joined a group of HNC students and faculty on an epic and memorable walk around the Nanjing city wall. The wall traces the traditional city limits of Nanjing, originally built at the beginning of the Ming dynasty, but also continuously rebuilt during different time periods. If you follow the original structure of the wall as it encircles the city, the total distance is about 26 miles. Today, though still a defining characteristic of the city, the wall exists in segments, with some parts having been intermittently destroyed during the Sino-Japanese war, and again during the founding of the People’s Republic. More recently, parts of the wall have been restored as a cultural heritage site and popular attraction for visitors.

We began our trek early in the morning on Saturday, departing from the HNC at 6 am. Although the early departure time was easier for some than others, it also offered a chance to see the city in a new light. Besides our troupe, most other early risers on the streets were retirees doing morning exercises, or walking to the market while pushing strollers with their grandchildren inside. It was invigorating to see how alive the city already was even before 7 am.

Most students picked up breakfast while walking through one of the bustling morning markets. With the enticing smells of steamed buns and deep fried breads wafting out from vendor’s stalls, neighborhood markets are one of my favorite reasons to wake up early in Nanjing. We continued walking through the morning until arriving at an enormous and sprawling flea market packed with all kinds of odd treasures. We took a break to explore the flea market, and then continued onwards along the Qinghai River, a tributary of the Yangtze, which follows alongside the wall.

Photo Credit: Ning Xinyuan 

At midday, the temperature quickly turned from pleasant to sweltering. It was around this time that the benevolent co-Director Davies treated everyone to ice cream, which raised group morale and fortified our desires to keep pushing onwards. Although it was also the hottest and sweatiest part of the hike, the section of the wall that we traversed in the early afternoon was also the most rewarding. Walking along the elevated walk-way atop a newly restored section of the wall, we had a bird’s-eye view of different districts of the city in starkly different stages of development. Just like the wall itself, the city of Nanjing is also being continuously torn down and rebuilt according to the changing lifestyles of its inhabitants and the evolving demands of the city.

Photo Credit:  Li Liyang

The last leg of the trek was the most trying. Our numbers had shrunk and those who remained were blistered and tired. For the last few miles, some took advantage of Nanjing’s new public-use bike system, and biked alongside walkers. I almost gave up when we came across a conveniently located bus stop, but thanks to the support of classmates and faculty I found the will to go on. For the last mile along Xuanwu Lake, the bikes were left behind and we made our way to the original starting point together on foot.

Since finishing the wall walk, I’ve had a new sense of appreciation for the city of Nanjing, a place with countless places to explore. For example, now that I’ve allowed some time for my blisters heal, I am planning a—comparatively less long—walk around picturesque Xuanwu Lake. While being a full-time student, it is important to remember that life at the HNC is not limited to time spent within the HNC. Some of the most memorable experiences I’ve had here have taken place while exploring the historic and constantly changing city of Nanjing.

Written by Amanda Bogan, MAIS '18

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Resolving International Business Disputes in Vienna

The HNC commercial arbitration team recently got back from Vienna—the “city of music,” known for its baroque palaces and gardens—where we competed in the Willem C. Vis International Moot. The “Vis Moot” is often referred to as the Olympics of commercial arbitration; it attracts nearly 400 of the world’s best law schools annually. This was the first time HNC sent and funded its own team, which was composed of both Chinese and American students. 

 In our eyes, the Vis Moot was one of the best learning and professional development experiences of our school year. Not only did we improve our public speaking, debate, research, and legal skills, but we also networked with leading international lawyers and arbitrators. Most importantly, we made good friends with other students from around the world pursuing careers in international trade and international law.

Moot competitions are basically an intellectual battlefield. Each opposing team comes armed with a bevy of legal arguments, counterarguments, facts, cases, and interpretations of laws—in order to attack the other team’s positions, as well as to defend their own clients’ positions. While there are many different types of moot competitions—such as Jessup’s international law moot and the Red Cross’s international humanitarian law moot—the Vis Moot focuses solely on international commercial arbitration law. 

Commercial arbitration is a way to resolve business disputes between two or more companies from different countries. Because every nation-state has different commercial laws, it can often be tricky to do business across borders. To address these issues, the United Nations (specifically UNCITRAL) created uniform treaty frameworks—such as the CISG, the New York Convention, and the Model Law—for commercial agents to abide to. If the companies’ host countries had ratified such treaties, the companies could use the treaties’ mechanisms to initiate arbitration (a process of dispute resolution to figure out who gets how much money). During this process, each company’s advocates (or arbitration lawyers) present their arguments to arbitrators (basically judges), who then decide on final awards.

The Vis Moot itself was a seven day ordeal, starting with the welcoming party, which turned into a dance party, organized by the Moot Alumni Association. There, we made friends with a variety of people that we would see throughout the week—memorably four girls from Belgium who did great impressions of Americans; two U.S. army veterans now studying law in Kentucky; a Russian guy who hid the fact that he spoke perfect Mandarin until seven days later; and a couple of jokesters from India who ended up winning second place overall. The next day was the official opening ceremony, held at a historic concert hall, followed by a wine reception. And finally, the third day was when competitions began.

HNC competed in four events that week, with schools from Turkey, Ireland, Georgia (the country), and Australia. These competitions took place in famous international law firms, such as Baker McKenzie and DORDA, as well as in the University of Vienna’s law school. Our competitions were judged by top international arbitrators and lawyers, including those from White & Case, The Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). 

Every day was a time crunch, but also very rewarding. Our mornings (which started at 6AM, thanks to jetlag) were spent digging through legal research in the city’s gorgeous cafes (the same cafes frequented by Sigmund Freud and Leon Trotsky). Around lunchtime we would rehearse oral arguments in our hotel lounge with HNC’s professor of commercial law Feng Chuan (who also participated in Vis Moot in Vienna as a student in the early 2000s). In the afternoon, we would compete at formal events around the city. Following that, we would squeeze in some time to visit museums or historical sites along the banks of the Danube River; and finally, in the evening, we would unwind at social gatherings with fellow Mooters.

It was clear that the dynamic at Vis Moot was “work hard, play hard.” While all the Mooters there were naturally studious (it can often be difficult to pry these types away from the library), the Vis Moot and alumni organizers incorporated a lot of social events into the agenda—from historic tours of Vindobona, to dinners featuring local cuisine (if you go, try the palatschinken), and to presentations at the United Nations. The organizers’ goals were not only to teach students about trade law by having them write legal memorandums and present oral arguments in front of arbitrators, but also to encourage students to meet people from different legal cultures and backgrounds.

To confess, most of us on the team knew very little about international law (let alone commercial arbitration) before arriving at the HNC. But all of us took relevant classes here with Professor Thomas Simon (who is also our coach), Professor Roda Mushkat, and Professor Feng Chuan. Our journey actually started eight months ago, back in September 2016, when we first met and took a leap of faith to commit to this activity and to each other. Back then, we were not fully aware of how many hours we would pour into this endeavor. We spent a lot of time searching through legal databases in the library, studying international treaties late at night, engaging in legal debates on trains and airplanes, and rehearsing our presentations with different professors and lawyers across Nanjing. All these experiences challenged us and helped us grow in a variety of ways. (For example, most of us struggled with public speaking at the beginning of the year, and now we do it with ease.)

Our first foray into organized competition was actually at the CIETAC pre-moot in Beijing, during which we faced off against top law schools in China. This experience really helped settle our nerves—it was the first time any of us fielded sharp and pointed inquisitions by professional arbitrators—and it gave us the confidence that we could compete at the highest levels. While the competitions and debates could get pretty heated, the spirit was always of one of collaboration, dispute resolution, and mutual growth. In Vienna, five months after CIETAC, we ran into some of our fiercest competitors from Beijing, and we ended up becoming close friends.

There’s something to be said about spending so much blood, sweat, and time on a single legal problem. The roughly 400 teams at this year’s Vis Moot contained many thousand participants—enough to pack a Viennese concert hall. But we all had something deeply in common, which was our understanding of the nuances of this year’s intellectual exercise—so it was easy to make friends and establish lasting bonds. Perhaps it’s this shared experience that gives the Vis Moot its great reputation and that draws people back to it year after year—first as students, then as coaches, and finally as experienced lawyers and arbitrators (who, instead of making hundreds of dollars per billable hour, volunteer their time to judge a student competition).

There was not much of a “closing note” during the final ceremony—no sad coda, or anything like that. Plus, we didn’t take home the gold or score the highest this year. Rather, the final ceremony was more like the start of another movement. International trade law is a small community, and we had faith we would see each other again in our professional lives. Perhaps our biggest takeaway is that hard, faithful, and passionate work may not always yield shiny medals, but it will always produce stuff of greater meaning and deeper fulfillment. Indeed, that’s an argument we’d make any day of the week.

By George Gao, Rick Hogoboom, Benjamén DoVale, Arthur Xiaoyu Jin

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Spring Events at the Center: Director David Davies’ Chinese Film Series

Most of my week nights at the HNC are spent studying in the library or occasionally preparing for exams or group projects together with classmates. This spring semester, Center students Chelsea Toczauer and Sasha Chopenko have worked together with American Co-Director David Davies to create a welcome new opportunity for Chinese and American classmates to get together, enjoy a movie, and discuss opinions over snacks and drinks. Every Monday night, there is a screening of a classic Chinese film, which is first introduced by the Director Davies who provides a few guiding comments and historical background to get the conversation going. Half-way through each film, we break for discussion and refreshments, which generally continues after the end of the film as well. .

Some of the films featured this semester: The Love Eterne (1963), Fists of Fury (1972), and the Red Detachment of Women (1961)

The other day I had the chance to sit down and talk one-on-one with Director Davies about his reasons for starting the film series, and the importance of film in conveying cultural and historical understanding. The following are a few excerpts from our conversation.

What prompted you to start this semester’s film series? What were you hoping to accomplish?

Director Davies: One of the things that I’ve heard from students at the Center is that they want more opportunities to discuss things together, with both Chinese and American students. There are only a few ways we can do that, either by creative pedagogies in the classroom or through extracurricular events and activities. One thing that everybody likes is watching movies and discussing movies because everyone is given something to think about and will have some kind of reaction or opinion. I’ve also taught a few film classes in the US and have wanted to teach here at the HNC but haven’t yet found the time to lead a formal a class. So this seemed like a natural opportunity to interact with students,  have a discussion, and learn something over the course of the film series. Also Mondays and Movies both start with the same letter, so that works well!

One thing I’ve been thinking about as I’ve been watching these movies is how film can serve as a more comprehensive or more intimate way of conveying cultural understanding to a wider audience. What is your take on this?

Director Davies: Remarkably, a lot of students are increasingly busy with extensive coursework and don’t have time for broader engagement with the social sciences, humanities, and art and literature; movies can provide an easy opportunity for that kind of exposure. Films are cultural productions and say something about the people who produced them and the people who viewed them. One of my favorite sayings is “the past is foreign country”, and that is true for Chinese people and Chinese history as well. By watching old films you can gain some insight into why these stories were told and who the people were who created them, as well as the context in which they were received by viewers. Movies are also very accessible, as a form of popular culture and as an extracurricular activity that students can participate in without needing to do any additional preparation work on top of their coursework.

Do you have any ideas for future film series at the Center?

Director Davies: For next fall, I’ve thought about doing an American film series, maybe using classic science fiction films. And then we could switch back and forth, every spring having a Chinese film series and every fall having an American film series. It might also be fun to do one semester on classic American westerns followed by a semester on Chinese 武侠 martial art movies.

Thank you again to Director Davies for talking with me. And thank you also to Sasha Chopenko and Chelsea Toczauer, for the time and planning that they have put into the film series, especially during their thesis writing period!

Written by Amanda Bogan, HNC MAIS 2018