Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Meet Angela Chang, American Academic Coordinator at HNC

Meet Angela Chang, the American Academic Coordinator for the HNC based in Nanjing.  Angela, a graduate of the HNC MAIS program, not only supports students in Nanjing but also assists the Office of International Admissions with recruiting efforts in Asia and by arranging tours of the Center for prospective students.  Read about her experiences as a heritage speaker in China and about her first recruiting trip to Beijing below:

Beijing Olympics Fuwa at Capital Normal University
"Earlier this month, I went on my first recruiting trip to Beijing, where I had the chance to revisit Capital Normal University (CNU).  I had my first study abroad experience here, in the summer of 2008, also known as the summer of the Beijing Olympics (see the cute Olympic Fuwa!).  Growing up, I never resisted being Chinese-American, but the more pressure I felt to learn about my cultural heritage, the more I wanted to run away from it.  I initially studied Chinese in college to appease my parents, and in 2008 I finally fulfilled their dream (or was it threat?) of sending me away to what was essentially Chinese boot camp.   

I quickly realized just how much more there was to learn.  I couldn’t read a menu (in a heritage-speakers class, we bypassed learning useful things, like 'lamb' or 'chicken,' and went straight to discussing the China-Taiwan issue), and I couldn’t figure out the bus system (why on earth did bus stops have no maps? so 紫竹桥南站 means Purple Bamboo Bridge South Station?).  I had also never really travelled before, and being of a rather shy personality, it was up to my friends to drag me away from the campus to see the city.  Before I arrived, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but over the course of my two months in Beijing, I found myself falling in love with the language and culture.  Living in China long-term, however, had never even crossed my mind.  There was no way I could do that.  I had never really imagined life away from the East Coast of the US.  

Capital Normal University International Culture Plaza
Fast forward 4 years and 2 months, I found myself back at CNU for the first time since 2008 to recruit for the Hopkins-Nanjing Center (HNC).  So much had happened during the time in between.  I had lived abroad for 2 ½ years of those 4 years and 2 months and had researched and travelled extensively in Europe and Asia, often on my own.  I had not only graduated from college, but I had also earned my MA from the HNC where I researched, wrote, and defended an entire thesis in Chinese.  Now I am living and working in China at the HNC.  When you’re 'old,' say around 80 or so, 4 years doesn’t seem so long, but to a 20-something, it accounts for a fifth of your life.  The last 4 years have passed in a flash, but they have also been some of the most formative years of my life, thus far.  When I stepped off the bus at the familiar 紫竹桥南 bus stop at CNU I was quickly reminded of just how far I had come, not only in my acquisition of the Chinese language, but also in my understanding of Chinese culture and Sino-Global relations.  I found nothing at CNU had really changed, even the couches in the lobby were the same."