Meet our newest student blogger, Nanfei Yan! Read about her unique background and her impressions of the HNC after the first few months of study:
My name is Nanfei Yan and I’m currently a HNC Certificate/SAIS MA student spending my first year in Nanjing. The HNC is a fascinating place, so I’m excited to share some of our adventures! I love taking pictures (especially of food), so I’m looking forward to making some delicious posts in the future. For this post, I’d like to make a short self-introduction, and then talk about parts of the Center that I’ve connected with.
I was actually born in Nanjing, so in a way this is my first return to my birthplace. Shortly afterwards though, I moved to Sichuan (home to the best food in all of China). My family relocated to Alaska when I was 7. After two years with the moose and the northern lights, we settled down in northern Virginia. I think my childhood had a lot to do with developing my interests in US-Asia Relations, but I took a fairly unorthodox path to HNC and SAIS.
My childhood dream was to become a comic artist, but a few failed art school applications later, I ended up at Carnegie Mellon University studying Astrophysics and Japanese. After graduation, I worked for two years as a software engineer at Morgan Stanley in Japan. I get a lot of surprised faces wondering what a techie/science geek is doing studying US-China relations in Nanjing, but globalization has really made international relations relevant to every field. Likewise, international relations has broadened in such a way that it requires the input of scholars from every field.
The depth and breadth of international relations is fully demonstrated at the HNC. My classmates and professors come from extremely eclectic academic and personal backgrounds. The courses offered cover history, law, philosophy, energy & resources, politics, etc. While many schools can boast an interdisciplinary curriculum, the HNC is distinct in its application of all subjects to US-China relations. For example, when President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping signed the climate change agreement in APEC on November 12th, the professor of my Air Pollution class immediately prepared a presentation to discuss its impact the following day.
The students at the HNC are always ‘busy’. I say that in quotes because it’s the good kind of busy, the kind where we've chosen to be immersed in life, instead of drowning. In addition to taking classes, students are participating in intramural sports, music, moot court, entrepreneurial competitions, etc. Since everyone’s such a mixed bag of skills and experiences, there’s a general mindset that everyone can participate in anything. I’ve been getting boxing lessons from my classmates, while helping others in Japanese. Some of us go restaurant hopping; we recently mourned the closing of a beloved xiaolongbao restaurant. The HNC also offers Chinese cultural lessons such as erhu and calligraphy. I signed up for the erhu lessons, and it’s good fun to have a group of violin and piano players in a room together trying to learn a two-stringed instrument.
Alas, I am off to go be ‘busy’ by sitting in on the humanitarian law moot court practice rounds. The HNC team is going off to competitions in Changchun this weekend.
Wishing you all a great week,