Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Alumni Spotlight: Li Shuo of Greenpeace

Li Shuo
HNC students learn about global issues from their peers’ perspectives by living, eating, and studying together while working in their target language, meaning that Chinese students take courses primarily in English, while international students take most of their courses in Chinese.

Many of these students immediately impact their communities, like Li Shuo HNC’10, who joined Greenpeace after leaving the HNC and in 2013 led an unprecedented environmental investigation of one of the largest Chinese coal producers and politically powerful state-owned enterprises, Shenhua Group.

Asked about the HNC’s impact on him, Li says, “Many of the key skills and knowledge required in my daily work now find their roots in the HNC. This could not be encapsulated anywhere better than in the HNC’s library and its role in developing my fascination with books - even after three decades of reform and opening up, the HNC's library still is one of the few places in Mainland China that hosts such a comprehensive collection in the school's specialized academic fields. For an international-studies major, it was in this bonanza that I discovered my interest in bilingual reading and writing, which turned out to be of immense value to my career and life.”

With his cultural and lingual fluency honed at the HNC, Li guided a multinational non-profit to respect the unique characteristics of Chinese business and politics and affect multilaterally beneficial change, persuading Shenhua to stop pumping groundwater for use in its plant in Inner Mongolia and forcing a strategic adjustment to the development of an industry that carries tremendous global climate-change implications. He and hundreds of others like him promise a brighter future for the U.S. and China together.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

HNC Career Day in Shanghai

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center recently held its annual Career Day in Shanghai. Read on for student Nanfei Yan's impressions of the day!

Hello All,

Last Friday was the annual HNC Career Day, undoubtedly one of the most exciting events at the Center. Career Day starts off with a keynote speaker luncheon, followed by a dozen panels covering a dozen industries, ending with a dinner reception for all the participants. 

Career Day Luncheon
This year’s keynote speaker was a managing director from Deloitte China. He spoke on the qualities of leadership and quoted past leaders from both China and the US. Afterwards, students were given a chance to ask questions. When asked about lessons learned from past challenges, the speaker shared a memory from working with multinational clients and having to recognize the importance of cross-cultural communication. 

Keynote Speech at Career Day
For the panels, students were given a choice of 3 from a list of industries including consulting, finance, government, human resources, media and marketing, etc. I attended entrepreneurship, non-profit organization, and legal services.

In the US, entrepreneurship has become synonymous with the tech start-ups of Silicon Valley. Where is entrepreneurship flourishing in China? What is unique about the start-up landscape in China? The panelists stated that compared to the US, start-ups require more starting capital and undergo a more extensive approval process in China. After the initial hardships, the entrepreneurs agreed that the Chinese market had a higher potential for massive profits once the business got going. Given that the panel only consisted of foreign entrepreneurs, it is worth noting that all four of their businesses revolved around the bridging of foreign and domestic businesses. For example, one company connected foreigners with jobs in 2nd tier Chinese cities; another was a law firm that specialized in advising foreigners on entering the Chinese market. 

Entrepreneurship Panel
Last semester, I took a game theory class called Economics of Strategy. Having covered microfinance as one of the topics, PlaNet Finance was a memorable participant from the non-profit organization panel. Furthermore, they not only implement microfinance strategies in areas of poverty, their work also covers the research of microfinance economics and its effects. While the panel generally focused on the fragility of NGOs in China, the global infrastructure of PlaNet Finance China seemed to contribute to its stability. 

Non-Profit Panel
The last panel of the day was the law panel. It was composed of primarily Chinese lawyers, representing four law firms of varying sizes and practice areas. The panelists weighed in on issues such as the rule of law, competition between domestic and foreign law firms, and the study of law in Chinese academia. The panelists remarked that while implementing the rule of law in China is still a work in progress, it is now a level playing field between domestic and foreign law firms. In other words, domestic firms are providing the same quality of service as the foreign forms, often at lower prices. Expecting the prestige for studying law to continually rise, the panelists were optimistic about the direction of its development. 

Students Interacting with Law Panelists
All in all, Career Day offered invaluable insight into the potential future careers of HNC students. We were given the opportunity to interact with alumni and learn more about the kinds of choices waiting for us upon graduation.



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Picking Strawberries in Gaochun

Students recently had the opportunity to participate in an HNC-sponsored Saturday outing to Gaochun, where they were able to pick strawberries, enjoy lunch with their classmates, and take a study break.  Check out some of the pictures from the outing below!

Friday, March 20, 2015

The 2015 SAIS-HNC Asia Career Trek

Most of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center student body is in Shanghai today for our annual Career Day.  We hope to feature pictures from Career Day in a future post, but in the meantime we have taken a look back on another opportunity offered through HNC's career services office: the Asia Career Trek.  Current HNC Certificate/SAIS MA student Dennis Hong reflects on the five day trek to Shanghai and Hong Kong:

Upon the conclusion of the first semester at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center in January, I had a chance to participate in its annual Asia Career Trek, one of the most informative and educational career development opportunities available at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. Annually organized by Johns Hopkins University SAIS and HNC, the 2015 Asia Career Trek brought 20 students from all three locations of SAIS - Washington DC, Europe (Bologna), and Nanjing - to Shanghai and Hong Kong for the five-day meetings with representatives of various organizations. During my visit to these two prominent financial districts of China, not only did I have an invaluable opportunity to network with Johns Hopkins alumni working in a variety of sectors across China, but I was also able to form a better understanding on opportunities and challenges in entering the job market in Asia after graduation.

This year's Asia Career Trek included 10 students from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. All HNC students are eligible to apply for this annual career trek, and it is a particularly valuable experience for those interested in the field of banking, finance, and consulting, as many of the organizations we visited fell within the domain of financial services. Many of the participants also shared keen interests in seeking China-related jobs upon graduation. During the entire Asia Career Trek, I was once again able to reaffirm how critical some of the skills I have been developing at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center are for my future employment prospect, be it a bilingual fluency in English and Chinese or deep knowledge on contemporary China.

Shanghai: 1/18-20 The organizations we visited in Shanghai included a non-profit business organization, political risk, management, and start-up nuclear consulting firms, and a financial service company: American Chamber of Commerce, Wells Fargo, Deloitte, EcoLab, Nicobar, and Control Risks. These organizations had HNC and SAIS alumni presence, and hearing directly from them about their career developments since their departure from their respective institutions was an eye-opening experience. Some of the common themes that emerged throughout our discussion with these representatives were the importance of developing specific skill-sets needed for particular industries and effective networking in a job search. One of the representatives I met in the Wells Fargo Shanghai Office, for example, had previously taught a mini-course on Cross-Border Banking during the fall of 2014 at HNC. Reconnecting with him again was a great opportunity for me to establish a more meaningful relationship with him. I was also able to network with other HNC and SAIS alumni working in Shanghai through the occasion of the Student-Alumni Happy Hour hosted by the Johns Hopkins Shanghai Alumni Club during our visit.

Hong Kong: 1/21-23
Many of the companies we visited in Hong Kong also included some of the top financial services institutions such as Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Citi, HSBC, and Credit Suisse and consulting firms such as Kroll and APCO Worldwide. As Hong Kong is often considered to be the financial hub of the Asia-Pacific region, meeting with top representatives from these organizations on the ground provided me with a venue to have a thorough grasp on financial markets in Asia and daily life as a financial analyst or an investment banker. One of the representatives from Credit Suisse, for example, shared his experience from his time at Johns Hopkins SAIS during our visit, and I was very impressed by the level of his engagement with students. Many of the alumni I met over the course of the Asia Career Trek were willing to help us understand what it is like to work in the finance industry in Hong Kong and Asia. The networking event hosted by the Johns Hopkins Alumni Club of Hong Kong was another great opportunity to get to know them and hear their candid advice on career search and development.

In retrospect, the 2015 Asia Career Trek was a great success for me. As an individual

interested in working in a China-related field in the future, be it economics, finance, military, or foreign affairs, the opportunity to travel to Shanghai and Hong Kong and make a meaningful contact with fellow alumni who have been in my shoes before will surely have a long-term impact on me, as I continue to discover more about opportunities available in the years ahead. The second semester has just started at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, and I am particularly excited about the upcoming annual HNC Career Day and Beijing Career Trek, currently scheduled for Friday, March 20 in Shanghai and April 27-30 in Beijing, respectively. They are great opportunities to meet HNC and SAIS alumni and more importantly for your career potential and development. China has drawn the world's attention in recent years, and studying at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center seems to have become more relevant than ever, especially with so many career-related resources available to its students. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Life in a Bilingual Community

We often focus here on this blog on the "target language" experience students receive in the classroom, but the HNC is truly a bilingual community and student life is a perfect example of that unique aspect of our program.  Several student initiatives demonstrate this, including a public speaking group focused on practicing public speaking skills in both native and target languages, as well as a Chinese-English movie interest group that screens two movies per week.  Check out the pictures below from some of these activities!

 Buttons indicate which language to speak in when practicing public speaking skills

One English and one Chinese movie are screened each week in the student lounge

Chinese and international students also work together to run a weekday coffee counter in the student lounge

Buy 10 cups of coffee in the student lounge and get one free!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Note to Admitted Students

An e-newsletter was sent to all admitted students yesterday, but we've heard from few of you with Gmail accounts that it has been filtered into Gmail's "promotions" folder.  If you have not yet received this newsletter, please check that folder.  Once you open the email, you can click on the tags/labels icon and uncheck the promotions box so hopefully future emails are filtered into your main inbox.  The joys of Gmail...

Every Monday from now until the decision deadline of April 20, we will be sending an e-newsletter with information on preparing for graduate school and making the decision whether to attend the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.  Each issue will feature topics ranging from academics to career services to student life.  If you have any questions, please contact us at nanjing@jhu.edu.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Competing in the Chinese National Round of the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition

Over the spring festival break last month, several HNC students participated in the Chinese National Round of the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.  Read on below for student Nanfei Yan's description of the experience:

Hello All,
Members of the HNC Jessup Team

Starting October of last year, the HNC Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition team had been hard at work, preparing for the Chinese Qualifying Rounds. The competition was held at Renmin University in Beijing, from February 3rd to the 6th. Our team placed 6th out of the 42 participating schools. Two of our members, Forrest Cranmer and Eliot Kim, received the Best Oralist award. On behalf of the school, I extend our congratulations to a group of talented and hard-working mooters.

What was the competition like? First, we arrived at our hotel in the Haidian District of Beijing a few days early in order to get back into the law mindset and prepare for the oral rounds. During the day, we held practice sessions (often via video chat) with Jessup alumni at the nearby café. (It’s not every day where you hear “Article 2(7) of the UN Charter” and “according to Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros” at Costa Coffee.) In the evenings, we explored the eclectic city of Beijing.

Preparing at Costa Coffee
Since its inception at Renmin University 13 years ago, Jessup China has been held here at least every other year. This year, we had the special honor of the attendance of Lesley Benn (Executive Director of ILSA, the organization behind Jessup). She took the initiative to get to know the HNC team and even sat in on our preliminary and quarterfinal rounds. Despite how nerve-wracking it was to stand behind a podium facing formidable legal scholars, her background as a former competitor and coach made us feel more at ease.

One of the most impressive aspects of China’s Jessup competition is the fluency with which Chinese law students articulate international law. The thousands of pages of English (and sometimes French) legal research that is required of Jessup is difficult for even native speakers. During the Shanghai Jessup training session, a former Beijing University mooter sternly told all the Chinese teams that they cannot let language get in the way. As international students, it’s easy for us to hide behind the excuse of having language or cultural barriers. Jessup China is a testament to the excellence that students can achieve when they overcome that barrier.

Ultimately, the Jessup competition serves as a dialog between teachers of law and students of law. Everyone involved is advocating not so much for the two sides of a fictional dispute, but for the principles of law and the rule of law. There were several judges who worked in developing countries. One was setting up the first law school in Cambodia and another was a justice from the Philippines. They explained the importance of rule of law in such societies, and the potential for the positive influence of law.

HNC student Eliot Kim received the Best Oralist Award
The field of international relations is complex and multi-disciplinary. Even though very few of us will go on to practice international law professionally, Jessup has taught us the indispensable skill of advocacy. It was an honor to compete alongside my fellow teammates and all the participating schools of Jessup China.



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

HNC Admissions Decisions Released Today

HNC admissions decisions are being sent via email this morning.  We thank all applicants for their interest in the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and send our congratulations to those who have been admitted.  For those who applied for financial aid, you will receive a separate email from the SAIS Office of Financial Aid within 24 hours outlining your award.  We look forward to welcoming admitted students to the HNC family!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Looking Back/Forward

The HNC admissions office has been closed the last two days due to snowy conditions in Washington, but our students in Nanjing have been busy with the first week of the spring semester. HNC student Nanfei Yan reflects on last semester and looks ahead to the spring:

Hello All,

Long time no see! As some of you may know, the HNC has just returned from a long winter break following the fall semester. First of all, Happy New Year - the Year of the Sheep! 天天开心“喜羊羊”,事事如意“美羊羊”。This post talks about some of the highlights from the past semester, as well as what some of our students did over the winter break.

As the first semester for the Certificate and 1st year MAIS students, the fall semester was an
Student-Teacher Ping Pong Tournament Semi-Finalists
introduction to an immersion of US-China language, culture, and lifestyle. One example of this would be the student-teacher ping pong tournament held during the Christmas season. Unsurprisingly, the Chinese students showcased killer serves, sharp spins, and a natural instinct for the game (congratulations to Du Yufan for taking 1st place!) However, the semi-finalist international students did not disappoint. Dennis Hong effortlessly transported his varsity tennis skills to the table and Louis Binswanger possessed both speed and precision.

(I placed a respectable 5th place - counting from the bottom - in case you were wondering)

If there is anything that remains consistent across cultures and national borders, it is the

stress of finals week. For the week of finals following Christmas, the usual late-night orders
of McDonalds and dumplings increased exponentially. From the position of 2nd semester students, we all celebrate the fact that finals week has all but become a distant memory (a memory, we shall relive in approximately 3 months). 

New Year's Eve Talent Show
Moving on to the break! As usual, HNC covered the vast majority of the classical four continents and seven seas. A typical travel story goes, “I started in HK and Taiwan, but then made my way down south to Cambodia and Myanmar. We had an HNC meet-up in Thailand.” Similar gatherings took place in China, as well, in Shenyang, Shanghai, and Beijing. Perhaps the beauty of an international institution is the desire to connect all around the world.

Of course, the break is never just about fun and travel. HNC students took the 6-week opportunity to wear a variety of hats. Chase Stewart volunteered as an English teacher in a Tibetan monastery (read more about his experience at the SAIS Observer). Many Chinese students also participated in internships during the break, as China is accustomed to both short-term and long-term internship programs. Sun Jiwei interned at the Shanghai branch of a trading company, and Yang Haiyan found an internship conveniently located right in Nanjing.

Looking towards the spring semester, the Co-Directors of HNC held a general meeting this past Wednesday. We voted in a new class committee, who have promised exciting new additions to life at the Center. Among these are a running group, a Chinese-English movie interest group, and a group focused on practicing public speaking in both native and target languages. As for me, I am currently lobbying for the addition of a boxing bag to our gym facilities. Here’s to a great spring semester!