Monday, August 31, 2015

Meet Gretta Herrin, New Student Services and Communications Manager at the HNC DC Office

The HNC Admissions team is pleased to welcome our newest staff member, Gretta Herrin.  Gretta will be visiting schools this fall and supporting students throughout the application process and as enrolled students. 

Gretta graduated from Lewis and Clark College with a major in East Asian Studies with a focus on modern Chinese art. Gretta first found her interest in Asian studies while studying abroad in
Cambodia after her freshman year. She then spent a year abroad studying with CET in Beijing and Shanghai in 2008-2009.

After graduating in 2010, Gretta returned to China and spent three years supporting international students and faculty at Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School. At PKU Shenzhen, Gretta most enjoyed working with a diverse community of international students from over 40 different countries.  One of her goals was to facilitate building a strong multicultural community of international and Chinese students. “My best experiences in China have been living with Chinese roommates and collaborating with Chinese colleagues. I wanted to see international students at PKU Shenzhen make lasting friendships with their Chinese peers,” she said. 

Gretta continued her studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey by enrolling in the International Education Management MA program in 2014. Before joining us in the the HNC Washington Office, Gretta participated in the intensive Critical Language Scholarship Program in Dalian to continue improving her Chinese. 

Gretta is excited to be now working in the HNC Washington Office. She looks forward to getting to know the current HNC faculty and students and meeting prospective students this fall. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Wan Li – Friend of The Hopkins Nanjing Center

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center notes with regret the passing of Wan Li (万里 ), former chairman of the National People's Congress, pioneering reformer in China’s top leadership, and a friend and supporter  of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center from its earliest days.  Wan Li passed away on July 15 at the age of 98 in Beijing.  

Wan Li is well known for the agricultural reform policies he implemented in the 1970s, when he was party chief for the eastern province of Anhui. These reforms helped to launch the household-responsibility system that would gradually replace the commune system. 
Wan Li in 1981

Less well known is the role Wan Li played in the establishment of Hopkins-Nanjing Center. In 1979, on a visit to the United States, Wan had met with Johns Hopkins University Professor Professor Chih-Yung Chien (钱致榕). Professor Chien was at that time working closely with then-Hopkins President Steven Muller to help realize their vision of creating a joint Sino-American educational enterprise that would help ground US-China relations in mutual understanding. "Steve and I wanted Americans to learn about the real China and the Chinese to learn about the real United States," Chien says.  Chien shared this vision with an enthusiastic Wan Li in 1979, shortly before Wan Li was promoted to the central leadership in Beijing. Meanwhile, President Muller had begun discussions with then-Nanjing University President Kuang Yaming, and the outline of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies began to take shape. On a visit to China in September 1981, President Muller was invited to Nanjing to work on the details of a formal agreement. He was also invited by Wan Li to the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where the historic agreement to establish the Hopkins-Nanjing Center was signed. 

After five years of preparation, The Hopkins-Nanjing Center was ready to open in 1986. Wan Li’s contributions to its founding were not forgotten.  In October, 1994, Johns Hopkins University held a special ceremony at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center to award an honorary degree to Wan Li, who had recently retired as Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. William Richardson, who had succeeded Steven Muller as President of Johns Hopkins University, presented the commendation to Wan and praised his important contributions to education, to US-China relations, and to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. 

Written by Jill Huang, SAIS Student 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Studying in 1970's China

Madelyn in China in 1979
Madelyn Ross, Director of the HNC Washington Office, first studied in China in 1979. Below she reflects on her experiences and provides advice to incoming HNC students:

As the new director of the Washington DC office of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, I’ve been busy learning about the HNC and talking to students and alumni about their experiences in Nanjing. Recently I spoke to a group of American college students about my own experience living in China shortly after the US and China normalized relations. I thought I would share a bit of that here, as many of you get ready to begin your own China journey at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center this fall.

I arrived in Shanghai in August 1979, having arranged (with the help of college professors, persistence, and, finally, approval from the Ministry of Education) to teach English and take courses in Chinese literature at Fudan University following graduation. As the curtain around China began to lift, my main motivation was to see what the country was really like, have an adventure, and of course keep learning Chinese. Not very different from today’s students, though I had far less information about what awaited me than you do.

Shanghai was a different city then. There were a few old cars on the road, no colorful clothing and bright lights, and just a few warehouses on the Pudong side of the river. Under the surface, the scars of the Cultural Revolution were relatively fresh, which made some people wary and distrustful of foreigners. But it made others eager to reach out and learn as much about the outside world as they could, in case the Open Door started to close again. My students and friends wanted to know all about America. They devoured every issue of Time magazine I could find (available intermittently and only in a few hotels for foreigners) and every story I could recall. They wanted to learn disco dancing and, always, more American slang. With so few Americans in the city, most of us felt a responsibility to share as much as we could and comport ourselves well. We were viewed as representatives of our country whether we liked it or not.

Luckily, these exchanges were not a one-way street. While it took some time, I was able to make good friends who shared their own stories and invited me to be part of their lives. At the end of the year, I had a better sense of life in at least one small part of China, definitely better Chinese, and several grand adventures to boot.
Madelyn with students at Fudan University
Many stories I hear now have a similar narrative. While you may feel less pressure to be a cultural ambassador, you will still find great interest in learning about life outside China. And the friendships formed by sharing your stories and listening to others will likely lead to some of the most memorable learning experiences you will have. Despite the incredible pace of change in China over the past 35 years, some of the important student experiences have not changed, and people-to-people exchanges play an important and ever-growing role in China’s foreign relations. For those of you getting ready to study at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, I wish you a year of learning, adventure, and positive connections.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

HNC Washington Office Says 再见 to Katie Brooks

The HNC Washington Office wishes Katie Brooks well on her last day in the office. Please see a message from Katie below:
Katie with current and former HNC Washington Office colleagues

After over five years of working for the Hopkins-Nanjing Center Washington Office at Johns Hopkins SAIS, I am leaving to pursue a new position at Columbia University in New York City.

As an alum of the HNC certificate program, it has been my privilege to be a part of the unique joint venture that is the HNC. The applicants, students, alumni, faculty, and staff I have worked with these last five years have provided a constant reminder of what a truly special place the HNC is. From reviewing the impressive applications of our students to traveling to China for the Joint Academic Committee, I’ve enjoyed supporting the HNC in every way I can.

I once heard a HNC Certificate/SAIS MA alumna remark, “SAIS is my community, but HNC is my family.” I will miss SAIS after I leave this job, but I know that the Hopkins-Nanjing Center will forever be a part of my life wherever I go. I look forward to joining the HNC alumni community in NYC!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Community Engagement in Nanjing

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center recognizes the role the Nanjing community plays in the education of our students. In an effort to give back, many students volunteer in the local community. Every Saturday, a group of HNC volunteers spend two hours teaching English classes and organizing activities as part of the Migrant School Learning Initiative (MSLI). The Bainian Vocational School provides training for high school age students from rural parts of China in three majors: cookery, electrical maintenance, and hotel service. After one year, these students are placed in local five star hotels where they can use the skills they've learned. English language skills are very important when working in these hotels, so HNC volunteers are able to make a real difference, while also having fun.

Professor Paul Armstrong-Taylor, co-founder of the MSLI, provided the following photos from the last day of classes and activities at the Bainian Vocational School this past academic year:

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Summer Internship Snapshot

Emily and a fellow classmate
HNC MAIS students have the summer between the first and second year of the program to do thesis research, find an internship, or travel. We checked in with Emily Shea at the end of her first year at the HNC to see how she would be spending her summer:

What are you doing this summer?
Emily: I have an internship with a US wine company that’s importing wine to China, so I’m studying to get a certification, the Certified Specialist of Wine. Just a few months ago I went with them and was their interpreter for their meetings with a couple Chinese companies.

How will this connect with your thesis topic?
Emily: I’m hoping to do my thesis on the international wine market for the international economics concentration, and focus on China because China is a super interesting undeveloped market but with all these complications.

To learn more about Emily and her experiences at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, watch this short video: