Margaret Myers, HNC Certificate 2011, reflects back on her time at the HNC and her experience working as the Program Director of the China and Latin America program at the Inter-American Dialogue.
Tell us what you are doing now.
I am currently the Director of the China and Latin America program at the Inter-American Dialogue, a Western Hemisphere Affairs think tank based in Washington, DC. The Dialogue’s China and Latin America Program engages and informs academics, policy-makers, and private sector leaders from China, Latin America, and the United States on evolving themes in China-Latin America relations. Our working group meetings, events, and publications seek to address areas of critical interest and to identify shared priorities on both sides of the Pacific.
How do you think your experience at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center prepared you for this work?
Much of what I learned at the Center is directly applicable to my work at the Inter-American Dialogue. My primary objective at HNC was to refine my Chinese language skills, which I now employ when conducting research on China’s Latin America and “going-out” policies and when engaging Chinese colleagues. My ability to participate in Chinese language meetings has facilitated critical relationship-building with key individuals in China’s ministries, think tanks, and companies. At the Center, I also developed a solid understanding of the many domestic factors in China that influence the country’s engagement with Latin America and other regions. This background has been invaluable in recent years, enabling me to develop an informed programmatic agenda. I am also tremendously grateful for the friendships that I made while at the Center. Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to collaborate professionally with several of my former classmates. The HNC network is remarkably extensive and active.
What was your most memorable moment when you were at the HNC?
I have many fond memories of the Center, but I remember the HNC ping pong tournament and talent show especially fondly. On both occasions, I was completely in awe of my classmates’ many skills. Academically speaking, my course on the Chinese Constitution was especially memorable. Students engaged in lively debate on developments in Chinese constitutional law and the broader legal system. I continue to refer to my notes from that and other courses in my current work. I otherwise tend to recall the great conversations I had with Chinese and international students, time spent browsing in the library, lots of attempts to find Pearl Buck’s house on the Nanjing University campus, great dinners at the local Indian restaurant, and fascinating trips outside of Nanjing.
What advice would you give someone contemplating attending the Hopkins-Nanjing Center?
I can’t recommend the Center enough. It provides a valuable opportunity for language immersion, of course, but unlike other programs, also provides considerable perspective on Chinese academic thinking on a wide variety of topics. The Center itself, which is run by Chinese and American co-directors, is in some ways a microcosm of the broader China-US relationship. I would advise students who are interested in studying at the Center to develop their Chinese language skills as much as possible before arriving. I would also advise them to participate actively in the many extracurricular opportunities that the Center affords, to explore the Nanjing University campus and course offerings, and to build a strong network of Chinese and international friends. The knowledge base, language skills, and networks developed at the Center can be of benefit for a lifetime.