Thursday, April 4, 2019

An Interview with the Hopkins-Nanjing Center Student Committee (Banwei)

Student blogger Cady Deck, Certificate ’19, interviews the Hopkins-Nanjing Center student committee (banwei) representatives about their experiences.

Every semester, students elect four representatives to the student committee, known as banwei (班委). There are two Chinese students, one male and one female, and two international students, also one male and one female. The banwei acts as the intermediary between the student body and the administration, advocating on behalf of the students. It deals with issues within the community as well as planning campus events such as the annual Halloween party, seasonal holiday parties, weekly coffee discussions, barbecues, etc. I talked to a few banwei representatives from last semester and this semester to learn more about their responsibilities.

The Fall banwei representatives (left) and the Spring banwei representatives (right)

Why did you decide to run for banwei?
Shelby Tuseth, banwei Fall ’18: I wanted to learn how the Hopkins-Nanjing Center works. Being a banwei representative felt like a good introduction to the campus and community. I also enjoy helping people, which is a big part of this position.

侯婧怡 Hou Jingyi, banwei Fall ’18: When I ran for banwei representative, my goal was very simple. As a Nanjing local, I wanted to use my advantages as a local to help people solve any everyday problems they may encounter living in Nanjing. I also wanted to meet more students and have fun together.

张垚垚 Zhang Yaoyao, banwei Spring ’19: I ran because I wanted to organize more cross-cultural activities and foster the creation of more cross-cultural friendships.

What are the most rewarding and challenging parts of being a banwei representative?

Sydney Tucker, banwei Spring ’19: The most challenging part is definitely pleasing everyone. The most rewarding part is giving people a voice and creating a closer community.

Yaoyao: Having to juggle between intensive courses, banwei duties, and other responsibilities is no easy task, but it has pushed me to improve my time management skills and productivity. The most rewarding part is that I get to make more friends from the activities we organize.

Jingyi: I think the most challenging part was that every time we organized an event, we spent a lot of time and effort preparing. Initially, I was worried that no one would be willing to help, but actually all the students were very supportive and willing to help us. This assistance moved me and encouraged me to work even harder as a banwei representative.

What is/will be your greatest accomplishment as banwei?
Shelby: The movie screening we organized in the student lounge. The lounge was packed with people and it ended up being a big community bonding moment. It was very representative of the community fostered here at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.

Sydney: This year the dragon boat festival happens before summer break. We already have a WeChat group with over 30 people who want to participate in the dragon boat racing competition. I’m super excited to participate and to help organize the team!

Jingyi: The first semester, everyone had really high expectations for banwei. I was always worried that banwei wouldn’t meet those expectations. But one night my roommate told me she really liked the activities we’d organized. She felt like the activities allowed her to meet a lot of new friends and also alleviate the stresses of being a graduate student. That was a great moment for me and made me feel like all the work was worth it.

What would you say to people who are thinking of running for banwei?
Sydney and Shelby: If you have any interest, it’s worth a shot. It’s a great way to get involved in the community. You get to learn about both the Chinese and international side in depth. It’s also a good way to get a feel for a real-world job, where you will have to prioritize, make compromises, and feel stressed. But it’s worth it for the experience!

Yaoyao: Banwei is not a glorious title you run for so you can put it on your resume. It is about caring for the community and being willing to take the time and effort to serve the community. It is about making more friends and making the Center a better community. Make sure you are aware of the serious responsibilities before you decide to run.

Banwei is definitely a lot of work, but I’d encourage prospective students to consider this excellent opportunity to be a community leader. As a member of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center community, I have certainly benefited from all of banwei’s hard work last semester and this semester, and I’m excited for what else is planned this semester!

Written by Cady Deck, Certificate ’19