Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year from the HNC!

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center Office of International Admissions will be closed on Tuesday, December 31 and Wednesday, January 1.  We look forward to answering your application questions when the office reopens on Thursday.  Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas at the HNC

Snowmen visit the HNC courtyard
Christmas Eve banquet

Christmas Eve banquet

The youngest member of the HNC community :)
Decorations in the student lounge
Christmas Eve in the student lounge

Presents on Christmas morning

Thank you to HNC American Academic Coordinator Angela Chang for the pictures!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Holidays from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center!

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center Washington Support Office will be closed from December 23 through December 27.  Although office visits will not be possible during that time, admissions representatives will still be accessible by email to answer your application questions.  You can click here for staff email addresses.  Happy holidays!

Secret Santa in the HNC Student Lounge

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tips for a Problem-Free Application

As you finish up (or for some of you, start!) your application to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, keep these tips and guidelines in mind:

If you haven't already done so, request official transcripts from any institutions at which you've taken undergraduate or graduate-level courses and have them mailed to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center Washington Support Office at 1740 Massachusetts Ave NW Washington, D.C. 20036. We accept both hard copy transcripts and electronic transcripts, but both need to be official documents.

Non-English-language transcripts: If your transcript is in a language other than English, you are asked to provide an official translation of the entire transcript and an explanation of the grading system of the university. You are strongly encouraged to use a credential evaluation service, particularly if you are not sure of how to obtain original transcripts or face difficulties obtaining them. Transcripts and translations must be official (unopened by the applicant) and received by the Hopkins-Nanjing Center Washington Support Office before the relevant deadline, so please make any requests well in advance.

Although your resume can exceed one page, we ask that it not be longer than two pages. The Admissions Committee wants to see not only your previous work experience but also any awards and/or honors you have received, extracurricular activities, relevant coursework, publications, and volunteer work. You should not include information from high school.

Test Scores
You must request and take the STAMP Chinese Proficiency test before January 21, 2014. If you have received your STAMP test score before you submit your application for admission, you can include this score on your application, but it is not mandatory. The Washington Support Office keeps records of official STAMP test scores and we will use the official scores when reading your application.

For the GRE/GMAT: Students applying to the Certificate program do not need to take the GRE or GMAT. MAIS applicants and Five-Semester Option applicants are required to take either the GRE or the GMAT. Use the SAIS code of 5610-0000 when requesting official GRE scores (or the code KGB-GX-99 when requesting GMAT scores). Be sure you send your GRE scores to Johns Hopkins SAIS in Washington, D.C., not Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

English-Language Competence
If English is not your native language, (or in the case of bilingual students, your dominant language is not English) but you hold an undergraduate degree granted by an accredited institution in a country where English is an official language and where English is the language of instruction, than you will not be required to submit an English competency exam.

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center accepts TOEFL and IELTS. A score of at least 100 on the TOEFL Internet-based exam (600 on the paper based) or 7 on the IELTS is required for admission. If a candidate takes the Cambridge test, a passing grade is required for admission. The TOEFL code is 5610-0000.

Letters of Recommendation
For tips on letters of recommendation, check out our previous blog post: Letters of Recommendation: Do's and Don'ts.

***And lastly, we highly recommend that you submit your application before the deadline so that our office can alert you if you have missing documents. Good luck!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games “Share the Games, Share our Dreams”

Nanjing YOG Ambassador Michelle Wie with LELE
Nanjing has been very busy lately in preparation for the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) which will be held August 16- 28, 2014.  Nanjing 2014 YOG will encompass 28 sports in the Olympic program and aim to spread the Olympic spirit and encourage sport participation.

Countdown to 2014 YOG

NANJINGLELE, is the mascot of Nanjing 2014 and its name derives from a specialty of the host city, known as the river stone.  The word "LELE"  is meant to represent the sound of colliding stones, but is also similar to the Chinese word for happiness/joy.  According to the YOG website, the mascot "heralds Nanjing’s ambition to contribute to the Olympic movement by forging a wonderful Youth Olympic Games, and to leave the city’s footprint on the trail of the Olympic movement by delivering joyful, glamorous and indelible experiences for young people around the world.”

A number of the YOG games will be held at venues close to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. Wutaishan, which is one of the venue for football, table tennis and basketball, is only about 2 km away from the HNC campus and Xuanwu Lake, host to the canoe-kayak and rowing races, is about 5 km away.

If you are interested in learning more about the 2014 Youth Olympics, please visit www.nanjing2014.org.

Photo sources: www.nanjing2014.org

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Hopkins Connection in China: Huihang Hiking Trip

As an HNC student, you will have the opportunity to connect with Hopkins alumni networks worldwide.  Prior to Thanksgiving, the Hopkins Shanghai Alumni Club organized a fall hiking trip to the Huihang Ancient Caravan Trail or 徽杭古道.  The stands for Anhui Province, and the stands for Hangzhou, which is located in Zhejiang Province. This ancient trail was used for centuries by Huizhou merchants to transport goods between the fertile interior (Anhui) and prosperous east coast (Zhejiang), and the 25km path is (mostly) paved with ancient stones which date back to the Tang Dynasty.  HNC American Academic Coordinator Angela Chang tail-ended her fall recruiting trip to Shanghai and Hangzhou with the hiking trip and spent two days in the company of twelve other Hopkins alumni and friends, enjoying their time away from the city.

A gorgeous field of reeds (芦苇)

       “Family planning is tied to rural economic development”

Learning how to skip rocks     

       We reached the end of the trail!
For more pictures, check out the Shanghai Alumni Club's Flickr account!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Attending Class at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center

Contemporary Chinese Foreign Policy with Cai Jiahe

Politics of Rural Development with Adam Webb

Chinese History Since 1949 with Dong Guoqiang

Comparative Politics with Gaye Christofferson

Chinese Constitution with Zhao Juan

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Meet the HNC International Admissions Team!

The HNC International Admissions Team
Have you ever wondered who is processing your STAMP tests, reading your applications as part of the admissions committee, and tweeting on behalf of the HNC?  Now that we're all back from fall recruiting, meet the HNC international admissions team!  We are based in Washington, DC so that we can support you every step of the way on your journey from applicant to student.  You'll hear from us about everything from the application process and financial aid to visas, billing, and pre-departure information.  In addition, some of us are graduates of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center certificate program so can speak firsthand to the student and alumni experience.

Katie Brooks, Admissions Officer:  
Now based in Washington, Katie previously spent four years living in China and Singapore.  An alumna of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she is also a 2009 graduate of the Certificate program at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. After completing the Certificate program, she spent one year working for a US-China academic exchange program before joining the HNC international admissions team in June of 2010.  An active member of the HNC alumni community in DC, Katie is also pursuing a master's degree part-time in International Education at George Washington University.

Lauren Szymanski, Admissions Coordinator:
Lauren graduated from McGill University in 2011, with a major in East Asian Studies, and a minor in Chinese Language. After graduating, she completed an intensive summer language program in Kunming, China before attending the Hopkins-Nanjing Center’s Certificate program in the fall. While at the Center, Lauren enjoyed the sense of community among the students, both Chinese and International, especially after having studied at such a large undergraduate institution. “Living with a Chinese roommate was by far my favorite aspect of living at the Center, and my roommate and I still communicate regularly by e-mail.” Lauren graduated from the HNC in June of 2012, and is now living in Washington, DC.

Sallie You, Admissions Coordinator:
Raised in Michigan, Sallie attended Michigan State University for her undergraduate degree in International Relations and Journalism. Sallie has previously worked at Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences as an Admissions Coordinator and has experience in East Asian studies. Sallie is currently pursuing a MA in Public Management at Johns Hopkins University part-time while working for the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. She recently completed her first recruiting season and loved traveling to different universities and talking to prospective students about their passions and career goals.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fall 2013 Recruiting Wrap-Up

Spelman College
College of the Holy Cross
Arizona State University
The fall recruiting season has officially concluded and our entire admissions staff is now back in the office and available to answer your application questions.  This fall our DC-based admissions team visited 115 US and Canadian  universities.  The American Academic Coordinator in Nanjing, Angela Chang, also visited dozens of study abroad programs in Beijing, Shanghai, Harbin, and Hangzhou and also recruited in Australia earlier in the year.  We also listened to your suggestions on Twitter when creating the recruiting calendar, so if you would like an admissions representative to visit your school next year, please email or tweet at us!

We enjoyed meeting every single one of you while on the road and look forward to reading your applications in February.  If you haven't started your application yet, it's not too late!  The application deadline for the HNC Certificate and MAIS program is February 1 while the application deadline for the Five-Semester Option is just over a month away on January 7.  For all three programs, the deadline for taking the Chinese proficiency exam is January 21.  Please let us know if you have any questions at all regarding the application process!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to our American applicants and safe travels to all HNC students on fall break!  We will respond to applicant questions when the HNC Office of International Admissions reopens on Monday.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Postcard from Harbin

HNC American Academic Coordinator Angela Chang was recently in Beijing and Harbin to recruit for the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.  You can read about her experiences while visiting CET in Harbin below.  Future HNC students should keep Harbin in mind as a destination during one of the weeklong breaks during our academic year!

Harbin Beer (哈尔滨啤酒)is available across China 
Earlier this semester, I recruited at the CET program in Harbin, a city well regarded for its standard Mandarin pronunciation.  Harbin is the center for higher education in Northeast China, and Harbin Institute of Technology, which is where CET is based, is considered one of China’s “ivy league” universities.  CET Harbin offers its students a full immersion environment complete with a language pledge, one-on-one tutorial, and local roommates.  A former student once joked that the reason they attain such high Chinese proficiency is because it is too cold outside to do anything but study.  Harbin is also China’s northernmost city and known worldwide for its annual ice festival each winter.  Due to its close proximity to the northern border, Harbin has historically received a great deal of Russian influence, and today this is most visible in its food and architecture.

St. Sophia Cathedral (圣索菲亚教堂)
The main architectural attraction in the city is St. Sophia Cathedral, one of the few remaining Orthodox Christian churches in the city.  It houses the Harbin Museum of Architecture, which gives a fascinating look at the city’s development and how the Russian population once lived.          
Harbin’s Jewish New Synagogue, which was completed in 1921, could hold more than 800 worshippers at once.  It has since been restored and today houses an impressive collection of Harbin Jewish History and Culture.
Harbin Jewish New Synagogue (哈尔滨犹太新会堂)
“Harbin is a city in China where some 20,000 Jews lived for many decades.  Most important, they encountered no anti-Semitism among the Chinese, such as is prevalent in other lands, from the Chinese people they encountered no anti-Jewish bitterness or violence.  As one result, former Jewish residents of Harbin call themselves ‘Harbintsi.’”

~ Israel Epstein (1915-2005), one of the few foreign-born Chinese citizens of non-Chinese origin to become a member of the CCP

Friday, November 22, 2013

Writing an Effective Admissions Essay

It's hard to overstate the importance of essays as part of your application to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.  This is a valuable opportunity to let the Admissions Committee get to know you as more than test scores, transcripts, and a resume.

Applicants to all of our programs (certificate, MAIS, and the Five-Semester Option) are required to submit a personal statement.  The prompt for this essay is as follows:

Please explain the development of your interest in China. Discuss professional, academic and personal experiences that have contributed to your decision to pursue further study of China. How do you expect your time at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center to assist you in achieving your long-term career objectives? (600 - 1000 words)

A few tips when writing this essay:

1) Spell check!
2) Be specific.  Applicants with the best essays give concrete examples about how they became interested in China and what motivated them to continue studying China and Chinese. Vague generalizations will not help you stand apart from other applicants.

3) Be memorable.  Tell us about your experiences in a creative way, rather than just rewriting your resume in paragraph form.  For example, one past applicant wrote about lessons he learned by playing ping-pong with a Chinese classmate.  Another explained her interest in public health through her interactions with Chinese citizens at a rural clinic.  Not everything is learned in the classroom! 
4) And finally, avoid cliches.  For example, one of the most common cliches we encounter every single year involves applicants writing that they hope to attend the HNC so they can become a "bridge" between China and the US. It may be true and it's a noble cause but so many bridges apply each year that the phrase has lost all meaning.

In addition to this personal statement, MAIS applicants are required to write a concentration essay. For this essay, we ask that you choose one of the five concentrations offered in Nanjing: International Economics, International Politics, Comparative and International Law, Chinese Studies, or Energy, Resources, and Environment.  You then will be prompted to write about your thesis idea(s).  Don't worry though! You will not be locked into this topic so it is completely fine if you arrive in Nanjing and decide on a new one. This is more an opportunity for the Admissions Committee to see that you have a particular area of interest related to China and that you have put thought into potential research topics.

Last but not least, Five-Semester Option applicants should submit three essays total: the HNC Personal Statement (see the section above), the DC Statement of Purpose, and the DC Analytical Essay.  We often receive questions about the amount of overlap between the HNC Personal Statement and the DC Statement of Purpose. You should assume that the admissions committees of each campus have access to all three essays but still include any relevant information in each, even if it does mean a bit of overlap.

We look forward to reading your essays!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

HNC Online Admissions Chat this Thursday!

The next online chat will take place this Thursday, November 21 from 10:00AM to 11:00AM ESTChatting with us will be admissions representatives Katie Brooks (HNC '09) and Lauren Szymanski (HNC '12).  Join us to hear firsthand experience and valuable advice, and be sure to bring any questions you may have about the application process, academics, or student life.  At the scheduled time, click here to join the chat and sign in as a guest.  We look forward to speaking with you! 

Not able to join this chat?  Click here to see the dates for other upcoming morning and evening chats.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Alumni Weekend at the HNC

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center has over 2,400 alumni living all over the world.  During the weekend of November 1-3, some of them had the opportunity to return to Nanjing to reconnect with their classmates and meet current students as part of HNC's annual Alumni Weekend.  The weekend featured a speech by SAIS Dean Vali Nasr on "The New Silk Road and the New Global Order," a "Back to School" session to allow alumni the opportunity to experience the HNC classroom again, alumni career panels, a walk along the ancient Nanjing city wall, a reception, and of course the Center's annual Halloween party.  Check out the pictures below from this year's events:

SAIS Dean Vali Nasr speaks at Nanjing University's Xianlin Campus

2013 Halloween Party at the HNC

Success on the Job- Alumni Panel

Choosing Your Career Direction- Alumni Panel

Students and alumni walk along Nanjing's city wall

Alumni Weekend Reception

Friday, November 8, 2013

Letters of Recommendation: Do's and Don'ts

With the application deadline a few months away, it's a good idea to start considering who you will ask to write recommendation letters on your behalf.  Letters of recommendation are an important component of the HNC application so don't underestimate the potential of a recommendation letter to positively (or negatively) affect your application.  Below are some recommendation letter tips:

  • Two recommendations are required but a maximum of three may be submitted. 
  • No more than one recommendation should be written by a Chinese language instructor.  Applicants often mistakenly believe that the admissions committee prefers recommendations from Chinese language teachers, but the STAMP Chinese Proficiency Test already provides an indicator of your Chinese language level.  Instead, the admissions committee would prefer to read a letter that addresses another aspect of your academic or professional career. 
  • Recommenders that are well-known in their field are impressive, but not if they don't know you well and can only speak to your accomplishments in vague terms.  It's best to ask professors, advisers, and work supervisors who are very familiar with your academic and professional work. 
  • It's preferred for recommenders to submit their recommendation letters online.  You will submit their contact information as part of the online application.  An email is then automatically generated and sent to the recommender with instructions and a link to the online recommendation form.  If your recommender prefers not to submit the letter online, we are also happy to accept hard copies mailed to our admissions office: Hopkins-Nanjing Center Office of International Admissions, Room 406, 1740 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC 20036.

As always, please feel free to contact us if you or your recommenders have any questions at all about the application process!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Financial Aid FAQs

HNC admissions representatives have been busy this fall traveling across the US and Canada, visiting Chinese classes and holding information sessions on college campuses.  To see if an admissions representative will be at a campus near you, check out our fall 2013 recruiting calendar.  In addition, HNC American Academic Coordinator Angela Chang has visited several universities and study abroad programs in China.  For more information on connecting with the HNC while in China, please contact us

Some of the most common questions we receive while recruiting are regarding financial aid.  Below you can find the answers to many of these questions but please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any additional questions or concerns.

How do I qualify for financial aid?
To qualify for financial aid, please fill in the Financial Aid Application form included in the HNC application. American citizens must also submit the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The HNC uses the SAIS Title IV FAFSA code, which is E00474.

What is the deadline to apply for financial aid?
Applications received by the February 1st application deadline will be given first priority for all available funds.

Does the Hopkins-Nanjing Center provide fellowships?
The Hopkins-Nanjing Center has a financial aid budget to help support students who have both financial need and academic merit. The goal is to make the Center affordable to students with the qualifications to contribute to and benefit from the academic programs in Nanjing. Partial scholarships are available to incoming students that cover differing levels of need. In 2013-2014, all students who completed the FAFSA and HNC Application for Financial Assistance by the deadline received financial aid of some kind.

How much financial aid is available?
Fellowships range in amount, with the highest amounts covering about half of tuition. Most students finance their time at the Center with a combination of fellowships, loans, and their own resources.

Can I use federal loans at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center?
Federal direct loans are available to U.S. students who demonstrate need as calculated by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Loans are handled through the Department of Education Direct Lending program in which loan money is dispersed directly to the university without banks or guaranteeing agencies. Loan amounts will show on the bill as a credit and refunds are processed by the SAIS D.C. billing office within a month of the beginning of classes, assuming all paperwork is complete.

Are there outside resources available?
There are many organizations that can provide funding for your studies. We encourage you to look for additional funding. You should, however, begin applying for these fellowships as soon as possible because many organizations require that you apply months in advance of attending graduate school. For a list of some of these organizations, please
see the section on Outside Resources on the Tuition and Financial Aid page of this blog

How do I use Veteran’s Benefits at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center?  
All students who would like to use Veteran's Benefits need to contact John Bates in the SAIS registrar's office, even if they have used them in the past. For more detailed information, please contact the SAIS Registrar's Office.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fall 2013 Career Services Update: Advice from HNC Career Counselor Robbie Shields

HNC provides a variety of career development resources and an on-site career counselor to help students market their unique skill sets to employers around the world.  Career Counselor Robbie Shields has organized a number of events this fall to help students better understand their career interests and how to pursue them.  Read his guest post below to learn more about the many career development opportunities available at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center:
"Mark Twain once stated that 'the two most important days of your life are the day that you’re born and the day you learn why.'  As the Career Counselor at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, I couldn’t agree more.  This fall the HNC Career Service office has had several events designed to help students develop an understanding of their career interests and how to best pursue those interests.  I’d like to take a moment to share with you some of the highlights. 

At orientation, students learned about the importance of investing time in your career development.  Whether you go into careers in government, consulting, law, finance, non-profit, education, entrepreneurship, or energy, you will need to identify your career interest and develop a strategy to pursue it.  We work with students in this process, through one-on-one appointments, group workshops, employer visits, and career treks, but ultimately it’s up to the student to invest time in self exploration. 

After learning about Career Services at the HNC, I presented a resume workshop designed to assist all students in writing their resume.  While there is too much for me cover in this post, I would encourage you to remember three things.  First, the resume is usually the first example of work product that employers receive from you.  If it has errors, the employer will think that this is indicative of your work and you won’t get an interview.  Second, don’t go past one page for your resume.  Only seasoned career professionals should prepare multi-page resumes.  For entry-level positions, one page is preferred.  You may ask yourself, 'how can I fit all my experiences onto one page?'  The answer is you probably can’t. Most employers spend less than one minute reviewing your resume and so you have to learn what is important from your background that is relevant to the position of interest and omit what’s not.  Finally, quantify and qualify your accomplishments.  Saying you’re good at something is not the same as proving it.  For example compare these two bullets

·         Responsible for marketing and recruitment of a student organization

·        Implemented marketing and recruitment strategies for a student organization, resulting in a 35% increase in member enrollment

Hopefully you can tell which is better.  If not, we’ll talk when you are in Nanjing.
On Wednesday, October 9, the Center welcomed HNC alumna Brantley Turner-Bradley to discuss her career insights.  Ms. Turner-Bradley shared with students that in her experience, your career is not a linear progression but a more winding road.  As time develops, each position will teach you things you like/dislike and that you can use these experiences in a variety of industries.  In her own career, she has gone from consulting to market research to entrepreneurship and education.  
After the October holiday, I presented a workshop on choosing your career path.  Students frequently ask me, how should one choose what to do for a living?  It is difficult to give a succinct answer suitable for a blog post, but I think it starts with knowing yourself.  We all have interests, strengths, needs, and priorities.  For some, the most important thing is to be in China.  For others, the most important thing is to be working for an NGO that deals with the environment.  If you start by identifying what’s important to you and working from there you’re off to a good start.  I can fill you in on more when you arrive in Nanjing.
Fall 2013 Consulting Panel
Our next employer event happened on Saturday, October 19.  From 13:00-16:00 the HNC hosted five alumni working in management consulting for our consulting panel.  Luke Treloar (KPMG), Xu Jiahong (Accenture), Andres Perea (Bain), Pu Yang (LEK), and Meng Meng (KPMG), spent the afternoon sharing their insights into a profession that is among the most popular for Center students.  Andres reminded students that the hours are demanding, roughly 75 per week, but that there were many rewards because you’re surrounded by intelligent and motivated people.  When asked to give students one suggestion of something they should all know for their careers, Xu Jiahong told students to always focus on reputation.  No matter where you go or what you do, your reputation is essential.
The following day, Professor Paul Armstrong-Taylor and I hosted a workshop on cracking the case interview, an essential skill for anyone interested in management consulting.  During this presentation, we discussed essential qualities necessary for success in consulting, how to prepare for interviews, and practiced three sample cases.  Among the most interesting was a market sizing question, 'how many chickens are there in China?'  If you’re curious, the answer is somewhere around 50 billion, but remember the important part for a case interview is the analysis of how you reach your conclusion. 
In the weeks to come we have several other exciting career events.  On Thursday, October 24 we will host Yang Xiaoming, a Brand Manager with P&G in Guangzhou, to discuss his career path and insights for students interested in marketing and consumer goods.  On Tuesday, October 29th HNC alumna Christie Caldwell will come to the Center to talk with students about career opportunities at Aperian Global, a consulting company focused on developing the capabilities of individuals and teams to increase performance.  Then on Friday, November 1, the HNC will welcome back alumni, who will conduct two career panels as part of our annual Alumni Weekend.  These events should provide students with many useful insights and opportunities to meet alumni and non-alumni professionals successful throughout China.
Thanks for taking time to read my blog post.  I look forward to writing to you again following our upcoming employer visits and Alumni Weekend."

Monday, October 21, 2013

Buckling Down: Advice from a Second Year MAIS Student

Because HNC MAIS student Natalie Sammarco attended the Certificate program in 2009-2010 before applying for the MAIS in 2012, she was able to transfer some of her Certificate coursework in order to complete the MAIS in three semesters instead of four.  Therefore, she is now in her final semester at the HNC.  Read her advice to new students as they embark on their first graduate-level paper in Chinese:

"Now that everyone is back from the National Day holiday, we’ve had time to get to know one another and focus on work. I planned my schedule so that I take no classes this semester so I can focus fully on my thesis. My other classmates, though, are taking between 3 and 5 classes and are very busy with readings and projects. It’s about 1/3 of the way through the semester and professors are assigning the first round of papers. As someone who has already spent two full academic years at the HNC, I can recognize the panic in the eyes of the new students who have to write their first graduate-level paper in Chinese.

Don’t fear, though! This is just the beginning and everyone is just getting used to the schedule and demands of the program. Some of the students have asked the 2nd year MAIS students how to approach these new demands and, whenever I am asked about how to approach an essay, I always say: Write a small outline beforehand (in English or Chinese but I prefer English), and always have a native Chinese speaker proof your essay before you turn it in. The reasoning for planning out your essays a little bit (mind you, this does not mean writing the essay in English first and then translating it...ain’t nobody got time for that!) is that you have your line of logic squared away before you approach writing in the target language. Writing a small outline in your native language is key so that you don't lose your place and get confused. Sadly, yes, this piece of advice comes from experience: y’know, that time I didn’t plan it out in English and I’m fairly certain I went on a tangent about puppies...

The second piece of advice is for one’s personal improvement and understanding of the language. There will always be parts of the Chinese language that a native Chinese speaker can say better than a 2nd language learner. In a paper, the professors truly appreciate when you have taken the effort (i.e. cared enough) to have someone proofread your ideas to make sure everything fits together, logically and grammatically. When you put in the extra effort, professors definitely notice!
I know that my fellow students are going to do a great job and, since this is the first time they have to do this, they will be less nervous about it when the next round of essays comes up in a few weeks. The weather has finally cooled off a little bit and the summer heat is no longer with us. I love this since I’ve spent so much time in New England. Nanjing is very pretty in the fall, since it’s one of the more green cities in China. I can’t wait to hike PurpleMountain see all the fall foliage. In my opinion, it’s the closest thing one can get to leaf-peeping in China."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

HNC Online Chat- This Thursday!

Mark your calendars!  The next online chat will take place this Thursday, October 17 from 10:00AM to 11:00AM ETChatting with us will be admissions representatives Katie Brooks (HNC '09) and Sallie You.  Join us to hear admissions staff share firsthand experience and valuable advice, and be sure to bring any questions you may have about the application process, academics, or student life.  At the scheduled time, click here to join the chat and sign in as a guest.  We look forward to speaking with you! 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

NGO Work in China: An Interview with HNC Alumna Amanda Hsiung

Amanda Hsiung
Amanda Hsiung is an HNC Certificate ‘09 alumna and currently manages the East and Southeast Asia portfolio (including China) as an Associate Program Officer at The Global Fund for Children (GFC). Amanda sat down with admissions representative Katie Brooks to discuss her work with Chinese civil society, her recent travel to China, and of course her time at HNC. Click here for more on Amanda’s work and travels at GFC.

Katie: Thanks for speaking with me today! It’s always great to get a picture of what our alums are doing post-HNC. Can you tell me a little more about your job?

Amanda: Thank you, Katie. I’d be happy to! The Global Fund for Children (GFC) is a nonprofit organization that works to advance the dignity of children worldwide by making small grants to innovative community-based organizations working with many of the world’s most vulnerable children. As the Associate Program Officer for East and Southeast Asia at GFC, I manage over 40 grantees in eight countries in the region, including China.

Katie: And you get to travel a lot with your job, right?

Amanda: Yep, that’s one of the best parts of the job! I get to travel to the region 3-4 times a year, including at least once to China. While I’m traveling, I visit our current grantee partners to monitor our grant implementation, scout for great new potential partners that fit our model, and sometimes convene our partners for networking, knowledge sharing, and capacity building.

Katie: Are there any challenges associated with doing this kind of work in China considering how sensitive NGO-work can be?

Amanda: Small community-based organizations face difficulties everywhere and China of course has its own particular challenges. One of the biggest obstacles for the types of small, nascent, and innovative organizations that we look to support is the difficulty just of registering as an NGO. While there were almost 500,000 registered NGOs at the end of 2012, according to some estimates the number of unregistered groups might be twice that number, with about 1 million civil society organizations either operating without a proper legal identity or registered as companies. Working without an NGO registration leaves organizations vulnerable to legal difficulties, and makes it difficult to find funding as donors like GFC often can’t provide funding to unregistered groups due to the financial risk involved.

Katie: Has this situation changed at all since the leadership transition in 2012?

Amanda: Definitely. We’ve seen several promising developments for Chinese NGOs this past year. The new government has focused on what it has coined the “small government, big society” agenda, which includes a focus on outsourcing social services to NGOs. The government also seems to recognize the need for policy reform to accomplish this agenda, and the announcement at the 18th National Congress of easier registration requirements for NGOs to debut by the end of 2013 was definitely a promising sign. Some analysts have heralded this as proof of the start of a new reform era for Chinese civil society. I am still not ready to go that far, but am cautiously optimistic.

Katie: What kinds of effects of these higher level developments have you seen on the ground?

Amanda: Great question. I was actually just in Xining to hold a capacity building and knowledge sharing workshop on the topic of “Building Sustainable Charity Organizations”.  One thing that stood out from that workshop was a definite shift in the funding landscape for Chinese NGOs. We had participants create a collective map of their funding sources over the last ten years which showed very clearly that most participants began to receive some kind of government funding within the last two years, demonstrating the government’s increased investment in NGOs. In addition to government support, participants also began to receive funding from domestic foundations after 2008 (the year of the Sichuan earthquake) and are increasingly receiving corporate funding. So, while ten years ago, international foundations clearly dominated the NGO funding landscape in China, now there are a lot more actors in this space.

Katie: What does this mean for small, grassroots Chinese NGOs?

Amanda: Well, first of all, I think it definitely brings opportunities. Last year, the Ministry of Civil Affairs awarded 200 million RMB (over $30 million USD) to social service organizations, including several of our partners. And, as we have seen with partners who have received MCA funding, this investment has a trickle-down effect as domestic foundations as well as provincial and city-level also invest in organizations with the MCA’s stamp of approval.

Katie: But are there any challenges to working with the government for NGOs?

Amanda: There are definitely challenges for NGOs who are learning to work with government agencies or other new funders for the first time. As an example, implementing MCA funded-programming has been difficult for our smaller partners, as the funding is extremely restrictive and comes with intensive reporting requirements that are very taxing for a small NGO to fulfill. At the workshop, partners also identified maintaining their organization’s core mission and vision while working with new types of funders as another key challenge. And there is definitely a learning curve for working with new types of funders, as everything from the language you use in proposals, what kind of items you can include in the budget, to what kind of reporting is required is different based on the type of donor. So this is definitely an area we’ve identified where we can hopefully provide capacity building support in the future.

Katie: Your work sounds really interesting! Do you feel that your time at HNC helped prepare you for your job?

Amanda: Absolutely! First of all, HNC was just such a game changer in terms of language skills for me. I took four years of Chinese in undergrad, including one semester of study abroad at BeiDa, but actually doing substantive coursework in Chinese at HNC versus traditional language study increased my language ability more than all my previous study put together. This has been really helpful, since a lot of our Chinese partners don’t speak English so all of their proposals, reports, and emails are in Chinese. Beyond the language skills, I think my time at HNC, from the courses taught by the Chinese professors to spending a whole year living with my Chinese classmates, also helped develop an understanding of Chinese culture and society that has been critical to me ability to work successfully with our Chinese partners and to manage our China portfolio.

Katie: Thanks so much for stopping by!

Amanda: Any time.