From Nanjing to Academia: An HNC Alumnus' transition from Master's to Ph. D.

From Nanjing to Academia: An HNC Alumnus' transition from Master's to Ph. D.

Tell us a bit about your Ph. D. program and why you chose to pursue a doctorate after graduating from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.

I am interested in Chinese History and teaching, so I pursued a doctorate in Chinese History. I chose to attend Columbia University in the City of New York to pursue a degree in Middle Period (900-1400 AD) Chinese history and the history of Science. This time period is interesting for a number of reasons including its highly developed system of international relations. While premodern history is a different field from what we study at the HNC, what I learned during my time there, both in terms of content, as well as how to present work in Chinese and to communicate with Chinese classmates and professors have translated well to my Ph. D. work.

How often do you use Chinese in your program and/or other skills you gained while studying at the HNC?

The experiences I had taking coursework and then researching and writing a thesis at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center have uniquely prepared me to succeed in my field. I am currently in China to meet with Chinese professors as a part of my doctoral research and had to get in touch with Chinese universities in order to sponsor my visa. The success (though not necessarily ease) I have had navigating the visa process and the travel in China during this trip is absolutely a product of my time at the HNC in Nanjing.

What is a favorite memory of yours from your time at the HNC?

There are many fond memories, including lunches with classmates and faculty, where we could talk about anything in our target languages. I remember heated debates about Hong Kong and nurturing conversations with visiting professors. Those conversations give me faith in the type of educational institution that the HNC represents. I also loved the location of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, eating vegetarian noodles at the Ling Gu Si on Purple mountain (which is much closer than you think) and all of the many lectures held at the HNC.

Also, even though I couldn't finish it, the American Co-Director while I was at the HNC led a 26km walk around the perimeter of the Nanjing city wall that was definitely a day to remember.

What is one piece of advice you have for current or future HNC students?

To the 美方同学, speak as much Chinese as you can; to the Chinese students, speak as much English as you can. To both, of course, you should study hard, but if you never make it outside of the library, or never leave the HNC facilities to explore Nanjing and nearby cities, that would be very regrettable.

What do you see as the value of the HNC in the future?

The HNC is a beacon of light and optimism in the vicissitudes of international relations. I see the center as a tangible expression of the commitment of both Nanjing University and Johns Hopkins University to foster a place of focused exchange and communication. The [Hopkins-Nanjing Center] represents the possibilities for a positive, respectful, and productive relationship between the US and China as both countries seek to navigate the most pressing challenges of the coming decades.

Interview conducted by Alec Nash, MAIS 2024