Tuesday, November 4, 2014

My Favorite Class at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center

HNC Certificate/SAIS MA student Tyler Makepeace reflects on one of his favorite classes at the HNC and the experience of writing academic papers in Chinese:

One of my best classes at the HNC was undoubtedly Chinese Government and Politics, taught by Professor Qi Lingling. Every day she would begin the class by handing out a news article related to the class, and after giving us time to read, she would begin a short discussion about the article, which would always flow right into our lecture. Qi Lingling was not only extremely knowledgeable about Chinese politics, and particularly in village-level elections, but was also passionate about analyzing contemporary Chinese government and politics and methods for reform. She would often stop in the middle of a lecture, and, sometimes rather abruptly, state “Students, I have something troubling to tell you…” and then launch into a discussion about a recent scandal or issue.

For her final assessment, Professor Qi Lingling requested that we write a paper at least 4,500 character long, slightly longer than the average 3,000-4,000-character limit for papers at the HNC. Before coming to the HNC, the longest paper I ever had to write in Mandarin was just shy of 1,500 characters, and was not a research paper. Therefore, the thought of having to write a paper three times that length was daunting to say the least. However, many of my international classmates were in the same position, and working together with them in the library helped me stay motivated to keep improving my paper.

After quite a bit of brainstorming in the library, I decided to write my final paper on the CCP’s policy towards entrepreneurs, and particularly how entrepreneurial membership in the CCP has affected reforms in China. I was able to use the recent pronouncements from the Third Plenum, as well as several other news articles and academic papers for my Chinese sources, but also had to include several English sources in order to round out my thesis and research. The research experience gained from writing final papers at the HNC was not the only benefit. I am also now confident in my ability to write professional papers in Mandarin.