Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Meet the Hopkins-Nanjing Center's U.S.-China Exchange Scholars

 In honor of the HNC’s 30th anniversary, the HNC has created the U.S.-China Exchange Scholars Fellowship for alumni of U.S. government-supported programs for Chinese language study. These programs include, but are not limited, to the Critical Language Scholarship, Boren Award for International Study, Chinese Language Flagship Program, and the National Security Language Initiative for Youth.

We are pleased to introduce our first five U.S.-China Exchange Scholars for the 2017-2018 academic year who have studied Chinese through a number of U.S. government-supported programs. 

Emily Rivera
Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program (GPA)
HNC Certificate ‘18


Emily Rivera graduated from Hamilton College in 2016 with dual concentrations in Government and Chinese. The daughter of two first-generation Colombian immigrants, Emily grew up speaking both English and Spanish. Largely because of this, Emily developed a keen interest in intercultural dialogue at an early age and later began studying Chinese as a sophomore at Hamilton College.

After three semesters of in-class language training, Emily earned a Fulbright Hays Group Projects Abroad Program (GPA) Scholarship, which provided her the opportunity to attend the ACC Intensive Language & Culture Program at Beijing's Minzu University while at Hamilton College. While at Minzu University, Emily worked on a research paper chronicling China's wealth gap. Emily developed this research and deployed it into her Honors Chinese thesis at Hamilton College, titled: 中国“富二代”和“穷二代”现象之分析."

Emily chose the HNC to gain a well-rounded experience studying the economy and politics of China through intensive language immersion in an exclusively Chinese learning environment. She is very grateful for the opportunity to continue her studies as a U.S.-China Exchange Scholar at the HNC. Using lessons from the HNC, she hopes one day to add necessary value to the growth and success of U.S. relations abroad as a Foreign Service Officer. Originally from Miami, Florida, Emily currently lives in Honolulu, Hawai`i where she works as an AmeriCorps Advocate at the Legal Aid Society of Hawai`i.

Landon Heid
Foreign Language Area Studies Scholarship (FLAS)
HNC Certificate ‘18


Landon Heid grew up in Midwest, where he attended the University of Missouri, obtaining degrees in Finance and Banking and Political Science.  In summer 2014, Landon had his first experience with China, spending a summer in Xiamen, China interning at a Fortune 500 company working in currency hedging.  Soon thereafter, Landon began studying Chinese and in 2017 earned a graduate degree in International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington D.C.

During summer 2016, Landon was awarded the Foreign Language Area Studies scholarship to study Chinese through the rigorous Princeton In Beijing program.  During the past year, Landon served as the Human Rights Desk Officer at the U.S. Department of State, where he had the opportunity to discuss U.S.-China policy at the National Security Council and prepare congressional testimony for the Secretary of State and Ambassador to China.  Landon was drawn to the HNC after his time working in China-policy circles, where he discovered many of the most dedicated and knowledgeable “China Hands” had graduated from the HNC.  Given the history, quality, and reputation of the HNC, Landon believes attending the Hopkins-Nanjing Center will be a real asset to his future career as a Foreign Service Officer.

Mary Leah Milnes
Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program
HNC Certificate ’18 /John Hopkins SAIS MA’19


Mary Leah Milnes first learned about the Hopkins-Nanjing Center while studying abroad in Beijing with CET Academic Programs as a college sophomore in fall of 2012. At the time, her Chinese was only good enough to recognize the characters for jianbing. However, she saw in the HNC and SAIS a unique opportunity to wed her interest in pursuing a career in foreign affairs and U.S.-China relations to long-term study of the country and language.

An aspiring China Hand, Mary Leah continued to pursue her study of Mandarin and her goal of graduate study at the HNC by studying Chinese intensively in Harbin with CET, majoring in Political Science (Comparative Politics) and Asian Studies at Vanderbilt University and completing the U.S. Department of State's Critical Language Scholarship Program at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou in 2014. Thanks to these efforts, she can confidently identify purveyors not only of jianbing but also of dongbei cai and the legendary Lanzhou Lamian.

After graduating, she interned at the National Committee on United States-China Relations and the Asia Society before working as a research analyst for fintech firm ValuePenguin's Asia division. Mary Leah looks forward to the next few years, which she will spend attaining a Certificate in China Studies from the HNC and an MA in Strategic Studies from Johns Hopkins SAIS.


Stephanie Gruetze
National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) Program
HNC Certificate ‘18

Stephanie Gruetze is from Belton, Missouri and first started learning Chinese during her senior year of high school through courses at the local community college. It was during this time she found out about NSLI-Y. Stephanie attended NSLI-Y’s Summer 2013 program in Chengdu, Sichuan where she fell in love with China and the Chinese language. During her undergraduate career at Truman State University, Stephanie continued to study Chinese and spent a year abroad in Nanchang, Jiangxi while pursuing her degree in Agriculture Science. At the HNC, Stephanie wants to continue to develop her Chinese skills before going on to hopefully pursue a career combining agriculture and Chinese.

Christian Flores
Chinese Language Flagship Program, CUNY Hunter College
Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program (GPA) Scholarship
Boren Fellowship for International Study
HNC MAIS ‘18


Studying Chinese became a passion for Christian since he first began to study the language in high school for four years. He remembers the welcoming atmosphere in the mornings at East-West School of International Studies in Queens, NY when he would enter the Chinese classroom and delve into pinyin, characters, sentence structures, calligraphy, and traditional Chinese music. The inspiration and support that he received from his two Chinese teachers reinforced the idea that he should go on to continue studying the language in college. At CUNY Hunter College, and as a part of the Chinese Language Flagship Program, Christian was able to further pursue his passion. If studying hours and hours of Chinese at Hunter was not enough, Christian was able to apply his knowledge of Chinese throughout his study abroad experiences in different parts of China. In the summer of 2012, Christian studied abroad with the International Chinese Language Program at National Taiwan University. In 2013, Christian was awarded the Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad Scholarship to study and intern in Xi’an. Christian completed his capstone year at Tianjin Normal University, which culminated in his achievement of a level 3 on the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) and earning a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese Language & Literature and Political Science.

Although Christian achieved advanced language proficiency after graduating college, he knew that his studies on China and the Chinese language were far from over. During his final semester at Hunter, Christian decided to apply to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center (HNC) which offers a Master of Arts in International Studies while studying in Nanjing. After being awarded the Boren Fellowship, Christian made his decision to pursue graduate studies at the HNC. His strong interest in Chinese and politics led him to the right place that would deepen his studies on China. Christian has taken courses such as China’s Development and Environment, Sino-U.S. Relations, Financial Crises, and Ethnic Minorities in Chinese Society, all of which have provided him with a more well-rounded understanding of China. Christian did not only decide to study at the HNC because it is a repertoire for research on China, but also because it is a cross-cultural bridge for people from different backgrounds to engage in discourse and create mutual understanding. In his final year at the HNC, Christian hopes to complete his Master’s thesis on the potential of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank through a comparative study of China’s past investment ventures. Christian strongly believes that his journey of studying Chinese and China could not have been possible without the help and support provided by institutions as well as organizations such as the East-West School, the HNC, the Flagship Program, Fulbright, and Boren that sow the seeds for language study along with the fostering of global citizenship.