Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How I First Heard About the Hopkins-Nanjing Center

All of us who work for the Hopkins-Nanjing Center feel passionate about the mission of the HNC and the importance of the skills our students learn.  However you may not know that five of the eleven American staff members who work for the HNC in either Nanjing or Washington are actually alumni of the Center, representing both the Certificate and MAIS programs and graduating between 1988 and 2013.  A number of the Chinese faculty and staff are also alumni of the HNC.  Katie Brooks (HNC ’09) is one such graduate.  Now in her role as Assistant Director and Admissions Officer in the HNC Washington Support Office, she reflects on the first time she heard about the Hopkins-Nanjing Center:
Katie and a classmate at HNC's 25th Anniversary
I can still remember exactly where I was sitting the first time I heard about the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.  It was 2004 and I was in my freshman year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Thanks to a few years of high school in Singapore, I had placed out of the beginner level and was in second year Chinese.  While flipping through a list of vocabulary words in preparation for a quiz that fateful day, a stranger walked into our Chinese classroom.  Zhou Laoshi quieted us down and said we would be hearing about an opportunity to further our Chinese after graduating from UNC.  The visitor briefly explained the history of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, outlined the program, and mentioned that HNC students were able to write academic papers in Chinese.

My internal response?  This lady is crazy!

I could not believe that my Chinese would ever be at the level needed to attend the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.  I was just trying to get through that day’s vocabulary quiz.

The brochure I received that day was soon in the trash, but luckily thoughts of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center lurked in the back of my mind over the next few years, even junior year when I completely dropped my Chinese classes due to scheduling conflicts.  Then during senior year, another stranger walked into my Classical Chinese class.  It was a Hopkins-Nanjing Center presentation again, but this time I was ready to hear it.  Although still nervous about my Chinese ability, I decided to apply and the rest is history.

I think the moral of the story is to have confidence in your Chinese language skills, but at the same time remember that nobody is truly prepared for the HNC.  I went into it thinking that all my classmates would have better Chinese than me and that taking graduate-level courses in Chinese would be easy for them.  In reality, everyone is in the same boat trying to master the steep learning curve that is the HNC.  It took a lot of hard work but we were able to do it, and so can you.

Now I’m that crazy lady who walks into your Chinese classrooms and tells you about the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.  I’ll forgive you if you throw my brochure away as a freshman or sophomore, but I hope all of the amazing opportunities available at the HNC will continue to lurk in your mind as you consider post-graduation plans.