Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Spring Break Research Trip: Hopkins-Nanjing Center Students Explore China’s Borders

Student blogger Alexandra Hansen (Certificate ’18 ) describes her experience on a course-related field research trip  to Xishuangbanna, Yunnan Province during the spring semester. The trip was part of Professor Christofferson’s course China on the Border: Provincial Relations on the Periphery. It is an example of new teaching initiatives being promoted by the Hopkins-Nanjing Center administration that are jointly funded by generous donations from both American and Chinese supporters of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.

Over spring break, students in Professor Christofferson’s course China on the Border: Provincial Relations on the Periphery were given the opportunity to conduct field research on Sino-Myanmar and Sino-North Korea relations. This course is popular among students at the Center and is attended by Chinese and international students interested in learning more about China’s provincial foreign relations. This research trip was funded by the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and allowed students to investigate cross-border issues and paradiplomacy on China’s periphery.

This year marked the second time the trip has been offered to students. The field research trips were created as part of an initiative to develop innovative teaching and learning opportunities at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. Having taken part in the experience, this trip was valuable because it brought Chinese and international students together to explore relevant course topics. In this way, this trip embodies the goals of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center to develop cross-cultural understanding and cultivate knowledge about Sino-global relations.

This year the class was divided into three groups of students. One group traveled to both Jilin and Liaoning provinces in Northeastern China, while the other two groups journeyed to Yunnan Province in Southern China.

Students pose in Dandong, China, in front of the Sino-North Korea Friendship Bridge

Each group focused on issues that affected the areas they were visiting. The group that visited Jilin Province and Liaoning Province researched China-North Korea cross-border trade, Chaoxianzu (China’s ethnic Korean minority group) culture, and tourism along the border.

The two groups that ventured to Yunnan also had different research topics. The group visiting Kunming, Ruili, and Tengchong investigated Myanmar refugees in China, the Belt and Road Initiative, tourism, and cross-border trade. Meanwhile, the remaining group spent time in Jinghong and Daluo, Xishuangbanna Autonomous Prefecture, to study the region’s HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, cross-border security, and Daizu culture and tradition.

The Ruili Field Research Group (Yunnan, China) speaking with cross-border traders

Although I (regrettably) did not enroll in the course at the beginning of the semester, I was invited by the class to join the field-research trip and contribute my own perspectives and skills so that there was equal representation of both Chinese and international students in the groups. I am very appreciative of the opportunity I was given and for my time spent in Xishaungbanna Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan. Through this trip I met incredible people, visited a number of influential organizations, and learned more about the current issues facing Xishuangbanna’s population on the China-Myanmar border.

During the field research trip, our team was fortunate enough to schedule interviews with a number of different departments and NGOs. In Kunming we were part of a discussion panel with Yunnan University’s Myanmar Studies Institute and the School of International Studies. In the city, we also met with representatives from Save the Children, a NGO that works to promote children’s rights in Yunnan and around the world. These sessions contributed to our understanding of cross-border relations, the nature of NGO development in Yunnan, and human rights issues.

After several days in Kunming, our team of four took a plane to Jinghong, Xushuangbanna. Xishuangbanna is famous for its history, rich cultural heritage, tropical climate, and wildlife. Our first stop in Jinghong was the Xishuangbanna Women and Children’s Psychology and Law Center. Here, we learned more about the Dai ethnic community in Xishuangbanna and the nature of the organization’s service to the region. Then we visited the Buddhist organization 佛家之光, which uses Buddhist concepts to provide locals with sex education and education about HIV/AIDS.

While Kunming and Jinghong were beautiful and interesting places, Daluo was my favorite place we visited on the trip. While in Daluo we stayed in Mengla, a small village only a few hundred meters away from Myanmar. We spent most our time in Mengla with a family of highly engaged peer-mentors. The family provided us with a lot of information on cross-border security, drug use issues, and Dai culture along the border. They assisted us in setting up an interview with a CCP leader who discussed border security issues and a Buddhist leader who discussed the history of Buddhism and the importance it has to Dai people. This family was incredibly hospitable and kind, went above and beyond to facilitate our research, and made sure that we felt welcome. I cannot thank them enough, and I hope that I have the opportunity to meet with them again.

At the Buddhist complex in Daluo with religious leader Mahājiao.

Overall, these course-related field-research trips allowed students to apply what they learned in the classroom to actual real-life scenarios. These trips gave students a firsthand account of what relations are like along borders. They gave students a glimpse into the issues that local populations face and insight into the nature of their day-to-day lives. I found my trip to be a fascinating experience and recommend it to all incoming students!

Xishaungbanna Research Group in front of the Daluo Border Crossing

Written by Alexandra Hansen, Certificate '18

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Meet the Hopkins-Nanjing Center’s 2018-2019 U.S.-China Exchange Scholars

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center offers the U.S.-China Exchange Scholarship to 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. Meet the second group of U.S.-China Exchange Scholars below.


Eric Lacour
Chinese Language Flagship Program, Indiana University Bloomington
Foreign Language Area Studies Scholarship (FLAS)
Master of Arts in International Studies ’20


Eric Lacour began his Chinese studies during his sophomore year at Indiana University Bloomington (IUB). As a double bass student of Professor Lawrence Hurst in the prestigious Jacobs School of Music, Eric initially enrolled in Chinese courses out of pure interest in the language and culture of China. What was at first a fascination quickly became a passion when he was asked to join IUB’s Chinese Flagship Program. After one domestic summer of Chinese immersion study at the Flagship Chinese Institute (FCI) and one summer at Princeton in Beijing with FLAS funding, Eric was accepted to participate in the Flagship capstone year abroad program in Nanjing after completing his music studies.

While studying at the Flagship Nanjing University Center, Eric was able to combine his professional music training with his passion for China through participating in performances and teaching members of the Nanjing University Symphony Orchestra. During the internship phase of the Flagship capstone year abroad, Eric was able to earn a full-time position in the Jiangsu Symphony Orchestra as a double bassist. After one year of performing in cities all over China from Shanghai to Xining, he was promoted to principal double bass and chosen as an inductee into the Jiangsu Central Committee’s 100 Young Talented Artist program. As principal bass, Eric has participated in performances representing Jiangsu province in the greater China area, Europe, and Japan, including symphonic concerts, operas, Chinese folk collaborations, and musicals. As of February 2017, he has also served as visiting associate professor of double bass at the Nanjing University of the Arts.

Having witnessed the interaction of Chinese government policy on the arts and culture production first-hand, Eric will use his time at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center to further understand Chinese politics and explore ways of better developing the arts within the context of the Chinese political system.

Amy Bodner
Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program
Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Program
Master of Arts in International Studies ’20


Amy Bodner first learned of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center when she visited Nanjing as a study abroad student and met a group of students by chance at a restaurant. One conversation about the “China Dream” later, Amy knew the Hopkins-Nanjing Center was an institution that aligned with her career goals. An aspiring Foreign Service Officer, Amy chose the Hopkins-Nanjing Center to study the Chinese perspective on Sino-American relations and to push her Chinese language ability from colloquial to professional. She is grateful to further explore Chinese policy, language, and culture as a U.S.-China Exchange scholar pursuing a Master of Arts in International Studies.  
Amy hails from Reno, Nevada, and studied Chinese and Economics at the University of Puget Sound. Her adventure into Chinese language study began as a college sophomore when she labored over traditional characters in an intensive language program at Tunghai University in Taiwan. She continued on to study Chinese history in the home of the terracotta warriors, Xi’an, China, and later to study finance in China’s economic epicenter, Shanghai. While in Shanghai, Amy interned at the cloud computing company ChinaSoft International, where she struggled to understand corporate vocabulary, but learned that in China it is acceptable to nap on your desk after lunch.

Upon graduation, Amy furthered her Mandarin study by participating in the U.S. State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship in Dalian, China. Here she learned a bit about Chinese opinion on modernization and the secret to cooking flavorful tofu over chats with her host mom. During the following academic year, she taught English at the historic Hwa Nan Women’s College in Fuzhou as University of Puget Sound’s cultural ambassador. Currently, Amy is on a Fulbright grant in Taitung, Taiwan. She teaches English and International Studies at an aboriginal school with just 17 students where she has learned about Taiwan’s traditional aboriginal culture through experiences like singing Amis language folksongs and spear-hunting fish in the Pacific Ocean. Given its legacy, Amy believes the Hopkins-Nanjing Center will give her the educational experience necessary to apply her amalgam of experiences in China and Taiwan towards her future career.

Dominic Villet
Peace Corps
Master of Arts in International Studies ’19


Perspectives matter. Dominic’s time living, studying and working in developing countries taught him the importance of understanding other peoples’ perspectives. Having spent 15 years in developing countries, including Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ghana, and China, Dominic has had much experience working to connect and build relationships with people from cultural backgrounds different from his own. Understanding local and individual perspectives on a range of issues, and being able to communicate on his own in culturally appropriate ways, was necessary to build mutual trust and respect with friends and colleagues from diverse communities abroad. This goal for “building bridges” is what led Dominic to join the Peace Corps and later apply to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.

As a university English teacher for two years in a region of China fairly different from Shanghai or Beijing, Dominic’s time in the Peace Corps offered the opportunity to connect with members of the community to learn about China from their perspective, and to offer his perspective on his own community in the U.S. Given differences in culture and values, this process was not always easy, though it did bring to light one aspect critical to cultural exchange, namely, language ability. Being able to have conversations in Chinese and read Chinese texts and news media was necessary to more deeply understand local perspectives and build relationships of mutual trust and respect. Dominic applied to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center because of its focus on target-language courses, rigorous academic standards, and a diverse student body and faculty.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Master's Thesis Writing Process

As a student in the Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS) program, Amanda Bogan, provides an overview of the final thesis requirement—from selecting a topic and an advisor to navigating the thesis defense. 

The thesis defense is the final stage of the Master's thesis writing process, in which students present their papers and research findings to a panel of three professors with backgrounds in the same area of concentration (e.g. international economics, energy, resources and the environment, international politics, international and comparative law, or Chinese Studies). During the defense, professors will raise questions ranging from the implications of a thesis’s research findings to how the thesis is concluded, or offer up suggestions for how the thesis can be improved upon. But before students reach this final stage of the MA thesis process, there’s a great deal of research, revision, and discussions with thesis advisors before the final draft of a 15,000 character minimum thesis is ready to be submitted to the defense panel. In this post, I’ll be going through the major steps in the thesis writing process for MAIS students.



Step #1: Selecting a topic and finding an advisor
It is highly recommended that MAIS students spend time during their first semester seriously considering what they want to research for their thesis topic. During the beginning of the second semester, students are expected to choose a topic and a thesis advisor, and will meet with their advisor at least three times to discuss their preliminary research on the topic.

Step #2: Research and field work
Some MAIS students will use the time during their summer or winter holidays to engage in field research, such as conducting interviews or survey work. Even if you are not doing field research, holidays are still a great time to make progress on your thesis research or identify and refine your topic. For example, I’m writing my thesis on geoeconomic competition between China and India, which is a topic I first became interested in over the summer as a research intern at the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. Selecting a thesis topic which is related to a professional or personal interest is a good approach for two reasons: 1. Choosing a topic that you find interesting and meaningful will help with staying motivated throughout the long writing process, and 2. Having extensive research experience in an area where you are interested in pursuing a career helps build relevant skills and background knowledge (and might help in an interview).

Step #3: Proposal writing and presenting your topic
After compiling an ample amount of research, and having identified a particular question that your thesis will attempt to answer, it’s time to start the initial writing stage. Early on in the third semester, MAIS students will first submit a 开题报告 (thesis prospectus) outlining the basic premise and structure of their thesis, and an annotated bibliography of the research sources they have used so far. The prospectus will include the guiding question for research, methodology for approaching the question, and a summary of the existing literature surrounding the topic. After handing in the proposal, detailed feedback is provided on changes that should be made or areas to pursue further. A few weeks after submitting the prospectus, students will present their thesis topics and current research findings to classmates and professors in their target language. These presentations are a great chance to facilitate a discussion with classmates about problems you might be running into, or areas of uncertainty, while also learning about the research other classmates have been conducting.

Step #4: Writing and revision
After the thesis prospectus is approved and you’ve received feedback on your topic, the next step is to start the first draft chapter of your thesis—this will usually take the form of a 导论, or introduction chapter. Students are given a deadline to submit this first chapter, which is typically at the end of the third semester for MAIS candidates. As this is the first piece of writing that will be included as a part of the final thesis, students are given detailed feedback on their first draft chapter. In addition to submitting the draft, I also recommend actively seeking out feedback from your advisor and other professors, particularly if you have specific questions about how you should direct or focus your thesis. Most professors will be happy to arrange a time to discuss your topic, and it can help to get multiple perspectives on your research.

Jorge Cortez Martinez, MAIS ’18, pictured after successfully defending his thesis

Step #5: The defense!
Compared to the rest of the thesis writing process, the defense is a relatively brief final step. Defenses will usually last from 30 minutes to an hour. Students prepare an opening statement to read at the beginning of their defense, thanking those who helped them, explaining their interest in the topic, and outlining important findings. As a student who began in the Certificate program and applied to stay on in the MAIS program, I will be defending my thesis this coming December, so I still have some time to go before I get there. Having the chance to watch several of my classmates successfully defend their thesis this past week has helped me to know what I can expect, while also calming some of my nerves about my own defense. Attending a thesis defense, or just talking with more experienced students about their thesis, can help to get a better idea of how to start your own writing process.

Congratulations to all this year’s MAIS graduates! students who successfully defended!

Written by Amanda Bogan, MAIS ’18

Monday, June 25, 2018

2018 Hopkins-Nanjing Center Commencement

On June 15, the Hopkins-Nanjing Center held its thirty-second commencement ceremony to celebrate the hard work of the certificate and master's students. Congratulations to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center class of 2018!

The ceremony started off with opening remarks by Chinese Co-Director Chen Yunsong. He thanked the students for a great year and wished them luck for the future.

Co-Director Chen Yunsong

Sean Stein, Consul General at the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai, gave a commencement address congratulating students on graduating from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. He stressed that the world needs more people like Hopkins-Nanjing Center graduates. Having more people who understand both the cultures of the United States and of China is the key to good international relations between our two countries. He ended his speech encouraging international students to stay up-to-date on their China knowledge after graduation, as it is a rapidly changing country.


Consul General Sean Stein delivering commencement address

Following Consul General Stein, Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong, Vice President of the China-U.S. People’s Friendship Association and Former Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the United States, gave a commencement address about China-U.S. relations from a Chinese perspective.

Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong delivering commencement address

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-two years and reemphasized the pioneering value of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center to Sino-US relations. He stressed the value of continuing “to help the American people understand the real China, and to help Chinese people understand the real America.”

Yang Zhong delivering congratulatory remarks

Lu Jing, a Chinese master’s student, and Zoe Merewether, an American master’s 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 their two years at the Center (see full transcripts of the speeches below).

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. He highlighted the importance of the connections that are made at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, encouraging students to value their classmates and keep in touch.

The co-directors and the commencement speakers then walked up on stage to give out the certificates and diplomas to the graduates.

Transcripts of Student Speeches

Zoe Merewether’s speech:

“大家好。首先,我想给大家讲一段简短的历史课。哈尔德布朗博士在1977年至1981年卡特总统任期内担任美国的国防部长,1980年1月成为第一个正式访问中国的美国国防部部长。当时世界局势复杂多变,不但有苏联和美国之间的冷战,还有苏联侵略阿富汗、中国和美国在越南的干预以及台湾问题等。以进一步推动中美之间的合作为目标,那次访问标志着两国军事机构开始建立正式关系。不容否认,布朗博士对改善中美关系的奉献至关重要,但是肯定不能说这些问题是以果断和特久的方式解决的。对于我们许多人来说,布朗博士所面临的界定问题类似于我们当今所面临的问题,比如各个领域的冲突、俄罗斯与美国的关系、叙利亚内战等。我们都应该问自己,为了解决这些问题我如何为中国、美国乃至全世界的和平与繁荣作出贡献呢?

Zoe Merewether delivering her speech

作为布朗博士的孙女,我一直感觉要不能辜负他的期望。他21岁就从哥伦比亚大学获得物理学博士学位。我现在已经23岁,尽管我今天获得硕士学位,但是听起来并不令人印象那么的深刻 。当然,中美中心的学习方向都很值得学习,并且给学生带来不同的挑战。我的外公在1979年伊朗人质危机发生时也在任职。我很赞扬所有选择国际政治方向的同学,但是一点都不羡慕你们。我也不羡慕学习国际环境方向的学生,尤其是特朗普总统上台了以后。国际法律方向的学生,我知道你们很勇敢,因为要选择Mushkat教授的课。而我个人走了最轻松的路,选择了国际经济方向,因为每个人都懂钱的语言。我们的证书班学生,选择不用写论文,说明你们是我们所有学生中最聪明的。我相信我们许多人将会在商业、政府、非政府组织等各个领域取得成功,而且我认为我们许多人会过着国际生活。再问一次刚才的问题,在我生命中我该如何作出贡献?
   
莫荷莉同学说我们毕业演说的候选人要讲一个乐观的话题。尽管听起来我很悲观,但是实际上我十分乐观,因为我认识了你们所有人。我们这个时代最聪明,最勤奋,最具前瞻性的学生选择在中美中心至少学习一年。即使以后你不记得今天我的历史课,但请记住这一点。我认为我们不但在工作和学习方面有机会作出贡献,而且每天都有几百次的小机会为你的国家留下积极的印象。我已经在中美中心待了两年,发现这里最棒的就是我们国际同学和中方同学之间的交流。这个包括我们一起上课的时间,互相帮助准备报告和考试。我们的中方老师学富五车,知识渊博,他们在课上的旁征博引给我留下了很深的影响。此外,在课外生活中,我特别珍惜为中方学生介绍西方文化地机会。作为中美中心咖啡店的老板,我向睡眠不足的学生介绍了咖啡的益处,而我们中方同学也在下午茶外卖群里让我尝试到奶茶口味的无限可能性。我也很乐意介绍我的巴西柔术教练来到中美中心举行一个体验课,让更多的美国朋友和中国朋友学到如何保护自己。这些例子也无时无刻不在提醒着我们,文化多样性丰富了我们的生活。

Students during commencement ceremony

有时我们还会遇到文化差距的冲突。无论是美国人,还是中国人,我们去国外的时候就会碰到令我们不满意的事情。可能是小烦恼,比如外国人得在中国的火车站排队拿票,或者中国人在美国用不了电子支付。也可能是大问题,比如种族主义的遗产,或者言论自由的缺少。 在这样的情况下,我们需要保持耐心,争取相互理解。这样才能共同解决我们自20世纪80年代以来所面临的问题。不管你在未来采取什么样的道路,你可以使用你生活中的小时刻来产生积极的影响。我们有充分的理由保持乐观的态度。

最后,谢谢我的同学、教授、中心的行政和工作人员。祝大家毕业快乐,祝老师工作顺利,祝在座的所有人平安幸福,顺心如意!”

Lu Jing’s speech:

Ladies and gentlemen, dear professors, fellow classmates, distinguished guests, good afternoon! I’m a second-year master student Lu Jing. It’s my great honor to stand here to deliver this speech on behalf of the graduating class of 2018. Three weeks ago, when I opened my mailbox and found the yearbook superlatives nomination form, immediately some nominees’ names flashed into my mind when I saw the words like: “most likely to talk in class”—Kenny! “Most time spent in the lounge”—Alexi! And I suddenly realized it’s time for graduation.

Lu Jing giving graduate remarks

Looking back at the past year, the HNC has given us a lot of opportunities to make new friends. Do you still remember how did you get close with your friends? Maybe it’s because you took the same course and struggled through the same paper until 3 o’clock in the morning. Maybe you always showed up in the lounge and went out to drink on Friday night. Maybe you played Mafia, LangRenSha, or sang at KTV together and found some cool guys or girls. Perhaps on the Halloween Party you found some familiar classmates in a superman costume or dressed up like a ghost. Perhaps you celebrated at the Christmas Eve Party or New Year’s Eve Party at Zifeng. At the HNC, we have a lot of shared memories. This year, thanks to banwei, we went to see the plum blossoms and Jiming Temple to feel the spring in Nanjing. Thanks to Robbie, Asia Trek and Beijing Trek have opened the door to a new world for us. Thanks to Professor Christoffersen, field trips to Yunnan and Heilongjiang were great opportunities for us to know about the borders. Thanks to the co-directors, banwei, Eli, and Caroline, at our annual barbecue party, the beef hamburgers and hotdogs were really delicious. Of course, I will never forget the brilliant HNC band with your great songs played at every HNC party. I will never forget the excellent HNC basketball team winning many games in Nanda and winning screams from us. Most importantly, I will never forget you—HNC--and you—every member in the HNC family. We have weaved colorful memories and cherished our friends deeply in our hearts.

The HNC is a magic place full of diversity and possibilities. Here at the HNC, regardless of our backgrounds and nationalities, we sit together and discuss international issues from the US-China trade war to North Korea nuclear crisis, from China’s One Belt One Road to TPP. Here at the HNC, regardless of our majors or jobs, we sit together and take courses in different areas, listening to Professor PAT’s  [Paul Armstrong Taylor] comparative economics with his fast speech and resonant laughter, Professor Joe [Renouard]’s American culture with his frequent jokes and frequent short papers, Professor Cai Jiahe’s Chinese Foreign Policy with his gentle smile on his face and lively discussion classes, and fascinated by Professor Webb’s knowledge and getting crazy with his assignments. The HNC is by no means an easy place. Many of us have felt the pressure when three papers’ deadlines coming together; and many of us have experienced the frustration when failing at internship and job interviews. But today when recollecting the past year full of sweetness and bitterness, we definitely appreciate the HNC and the hardships we experienced here. It is the HNC that shapes us with broader and keener insight and perception towards the world around us and the world we are going to explore. It teaches us nothing is impossible as long as we start from now. It gives us the willingness and curiosity to brainstorm, to exchange and understand different cultures, and to respect and appreciate diversity. As the British philosopher Bertrand Russell said: “Diversity is essential to happiness”. This attitude and mindset towards controversies, the kindness to accept differences, the perseverance and courage towards pressure, and the friendship tightening everyone together are the best gifts the HNC has presented to us.

Today, we graduate and will say goodbye to our friends. Today, after we get out of this building, we will finish our journey of the HNC. We will miss a library with comfortable environment, a cozy dormitory, a yard with sunshine, a pond with fish, a cafeteria with laughter, a gym with muscles, and a lounge with coffee and movies. We will miss a place called the HNC. We will start our next journey of life, and the HNC will be like a lighthouse -lighting up the road for us to the future. Many years later, we will still remember, that year 2017, we met each other, and the new story has begun. Thank you my dear professors and classmates! Thank you HNC! My best wishes for all of you! Wish you a bright future, love what you do, and do what you love. Thank you very much!”

Students during commencement ceremony

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Day Trip in Jiangsu Province: Suzhou

Student bloggers Alexandra Hansen (Certificate ‘18) and Emily Rivera (Certificate ‘18) reflect on a day-trip this semester to Suzhou, where they explored famous gardens, ancient streets, and walked along Suzhou’s iconic canals. 

Suzhou, located in Jiangsu province, is known for its canals, bridges, and classical gardens.

While studying in Nanjing, students often take the opportunity to travel to nearby cities to explore the various cultural and historical sites China has to offer. Earlier in the semester, we traveled to Suzhou for the day to learn about the ancient water city and the famous Classical Gardens of Suzhou, which were added to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997. Suzhou, known as the “Venice of China,” is only a 90-minute bullet-train ride away from Nanjing, so after a quick breakfast we hopped on the train.

As green and beautiful as Nanjing is, Suzhou offers a completely different landscape. From the train to our first stop, we walked through swerving alleyways, passed boats humming along Suzhou’s Grand Canal, and bargained with local shop owners to purchase local Suzhou goods/souvenirs. The season was changing from winter to spring, so flowers were slowly beginning to bloom, and trees were gaining back their color.

Suzhou’s famous Humble Administrator’s Garden, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest and most renowned classical landscape garden in Suzhou.

Our first destination in Suzhou was the Humble Administrator’s Garden, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most famous gardens in Suzhou. The site is known for its distinctive mix of nature, residences, and water features.  Built during the Ming Dynasty in 1509, the garden has a lengthy history and hosts many tourists who travel to appreciate its beauty. After our stroll in the garden, we enjoyed a nice jiaozi lunch. We also made it to Suzhou in time for China’s Lantern Festival. China’s Lantern Festival, or the Spring Lantern Festival, is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunisolar Chinese calendar and marks the final day of the Chinese New Year celebrations. After lunch, we treated ourselves to an order of tangyuan, a traditional Chinese dessert eaten during this festival.

The four distinct sections of Lingering Garden are connected by a 770-yard long corridor and are bordered by walls of engraved calligraphy.

After visiting the Humble Administrator’s Garden, we headed to another classical Suzhou garden called Lingering Garden. The garden was originally a classical private garden and is one of the four most famous gardens in China. Although the garden was built during the Ming Dynasty, ownership of the garden was transferred during the Qing Dynasty. As such, the garden possesses a typical Qing style and is known for its calligraphy masterpieces. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lingering Garden additionally stores two UNESCO Intangible World Heritage Arts: Pingtan (评弹) and Guqin (古琴) music.

Penjing tree garden at the Humble Administrator’s Garden.

After a day of exploring Suzhou, we headed back on the bullet train and were back at the HNC by 7pm, just in time for dinner. As easy as it is to take a train from New Jersey to New York City, China’s bullet-train offers the same convenience for students at the HNC to go exploring. For those students interested in learning more about Chinese culture and historical sites while at the HNC, Suzhou is only one of the many beautiful cities one can visit. Wuxi, Hangzhou, Yangzhou, and Shanghai are also less than 2 hours away by bullet train. If you find yourself with free time at the Center, make the decision to take a day trip. You won’t regret it.

Have fun exploring!

Written by Alexandra Hansen, Certificate '18 and Emily Rivera, Certificate '18

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Day in the Life – Emily Rivera

8:15 a.m. – I wake up, eat breakfast in my room, and enjoy hot coffee while finishing a reading for class today.

Maria Belen Wu (Certificate/SAIS MA) presents in our Ethnic Minorities in Chinese Society course.

9:50 a.m. – My first class of the day is Ethnic Minorities in Chinese Society taught by Professor Huatao. Professor Hua Tao starts class by finishing our discussion from last class. Then, he leads the students in a class discussion on our required reading for the day. Finally, class ends with a student presentation.

11:20 a.m. – Class is out and I head to a nearby restaurant called Jing to eat with fellow classmate Alexandra Hansen!

Alex and I enjoy lunch at Jing (left) and purchase succulents for our rooms (right).

12:30 p.m. – On our way back to campus, Alex and I stop at a flower store to buy succulents for our rooms. I love the variety of flowers at the shop, as well as how close the store is to the HNC (only two blocks away!). You can buy succulents for as low as 12 Yuan!

1:30 p.m. – I head to the HNC’s gym, yoga mat in hand. I currently co-lead the yoga student group with fellow HNC’er Pawel Chrzanowski (Certificate ’18). The group offers yoga classes every Wednesday afternoon. Soon, we hope to introduce a second class that incorporates yoga, meditation, stretching, and cardio, all in the same class. Students also use the gym for boxing, dance classes, and more. There is even a group that meets daily to complete the Insanity Workouts together!

Dr. Benjamin Creutzfeldt (pictured above) was appointed Resident Postdoctoral Fellow on Sino-Latin American-U.S. Affairs with the Johns Hopkins SAIS Foreign Policy Institute.

3:00 p.m. – After the gym, I attend a lecture given by Dr. Benjamin Creutzfeldt on China’s foreign policy in Latin America. Dr. Creutzfeldt shares his experience living and working abroad in Bogota, Colombia, where he was a lecturer for Chinese studies and international relations for eight years.

Chinese History Since 1949 class.

 4:30 p.m. – Today in our class, Chinese History Since 1949, taught by Professor Liu Woyu, students were broken up into four groups for small class discussion. At the end of class, students got to experience mock “criticism and self-criticism meeting.”

6:00 p.m. – Class is out and I am starving! A group of friends and I head to Haidilao Hot Pot, a well-known hot pot restaurant with locations all around China known for its incredible service.

A group of friends and I at the subway stop on our way to dinner.

10:00 p.m. – After classes and studying are over, my friends and I meet up in the student lounge to discuss our Spring Break plans. Five of us are going to Yunnan province, where we plan to travel to 3 different cities to visit different ethnic minority villages. We plan to end our trip with a hike up the beautiful Tiger Leaping Gorge. We book flights and trains and create an itinerary for our trip.

晚安!

Written by Emily Rivera, Certificate '18

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Student Life: The HNC Consulting Interest Group

Student blogger Amanda Bogan, MAIS ’18, joined the student-run consulting group at the HNC this semester. She shares her experience and talks with the group’s founder, JesusisLord Nwadiuko, about his motivations for starting the group.

I had been interested in consulting work since listening to a presentation about the field given at the HNC last year. Back then, although I was interested in learning more about the industry, I remember feeling intimidated as someone with no previous experience in consulting. I also knew that it would take a significant amount of practice and preparation if I were ever to seriously pursue a career in consulting services, or just to undergo a standard case interview. I was therefore particularly excited when I discovered earlier this semester that an HNC student was organizing an interest group for other students considering a career in consulting.


Since starting at the beginning of this semester, members of the Consulting Interest Group have gotten together every Monday morning to practice case problems together, review frameworks for structuring responses, and go over a variety of different cases and interview types. Since I started regularly practicing with other club members, I have become significantly more confident in my ability to problem-solve while maintaining composure and expressing my thought process logically and professionally.

Earlier this week, the group’s founding member and organizer, JesusisLord Nwadiuko, Certificate/SAIS MA ’19 took the time to talk to me a bit about his reasons for starting the group and what he has gotten out of it so far.

What inspired you to get students together to form a consulting group?

My motivations were partially self-interested, because I wanted to practice cases and prepare myself for future interviews, but I also wanted to create a platform at the Center where students could pursue professional development specifically in the context of consulting work. Also, it can be very difficult to prepare for case-style interviews alone without someone else to work with, so I knew that this would need to be more of a group effort. At the same time, I wanted to do something that would help other students be better prepared for interviews in the future, and to have a better understanding about consulting in general.

What were some of your primary objectives when starting the club? What are some areas you’d still like to improve upon?
One important goal for me initially was to allow for both Chinese and international students to improve on their relevant skill sets and expand their understanding of the consulting industry. In the future, I would like to do even more to accomplish this, such as working to get a better understanding of how consulting works differently in China than it does in the U.S., and also increase the amount of Chinese we use by practicing case questions and interviews in Chinese.

Are there any specific skills you feel you’ve improved on while practicing with classmates?
I’ve found that oftentimes when explaining your analysis to a partner, it doesn’t always come out as coherent as you would like it to sound, and it can be hard to communicate more complex thought structures efficiently to other people. I’ve definitely improved on this by practicing every Monday morning. For example, even when I give a case to my partner and act as the interviewer, just listening to someone else work through their own analysis can help you to refine your own take on a problem.

Lastly, the classic interview question: why are you interested in consulting?
My interest in consulting is actually a fairly recently development; for me, consulting represents a kind of coalescing of my different professional and personal goals. Specifically, I would like build on my leadership qualities and my ability to develop strategic insight at a global level. I think that the skills that come from consulting, such as being able to address and analyze a variety of different scenarios and develop sound strategies, would be highly transferrable to many different professional pathways that I am interested in pursuing.

Thank you again to JesusisLord for taking the time to talk with me and for all your efforts in organizing the club!

Written by Amanda Bogan, MAIS ‘18

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

HNC Spring Break

A few weeks ago, HNC students took advantage of the spring break to finish their Master’s theses, travel around China, and explore new countries! Alexandra Hansen, Certificate '18, shares photos from the HNC community documenting their adventures. 

Sierra Janik (Certificate/SAIS MA), Hong Kong 
A View From the Peak!

 杨乐 (Certificate), Wuxi, Jiangsu, China
 领略中国书法文化——抄写佛经.

赛志伟 (Certificate), Hualian, Taiwan
Flying to the Pacific! 

JesusisLord Nwadiuko, (Certificate/SAIS MA), Tumen in the Yanbian Korean-Chinese Autonomous Region, China
Visiting the border of China and North Korea to learn about 朝鲜族 education and the economy in the region. 

Taylore Roth (Certificate/SAIS MA), Ruili, Yunnan, China
Two Burmese traders returning home after a long day of work in the Chinese border town of Ruili.

Guillermo Garcia (Certificate/SAIS MA), Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan, China 
Trying to smile and enjoy the landscape after a tough hike. 

Caroline Yarber (MAIS), Nanjing, China 
Caroline Yarber and Eli Tirk spent spring break on campus filled with excitement to finish their master's theses.


Ian Echo Faulkner (Certificate), Neiwan, Taiwan
A hidden town in the mountains, views from different coffee shops.

Edmund Xu (MAIS), Nara, Japan 
Chilling with a deer in Nara, Japan.


Alexandra Wasik (MAIS), Karakul Lake, Xinjiang, China
This is at Karakul Lake near the border of Tajikistan. They have horses and camels that you can take around the lake and up into the mountains.

俞梦丹 (Certificate), Bangkok, Thailand  (黄葵 featured)
 泰囧