SAIS Global Women in Leadership Club Comes to the HNC

SAIS Global Women in Leadership Club Comes to the HNC

Nancy Brancati introduces the new Hopkins-Nanjing Center chapter of the SAIS Global Women in Leadership Club that she and several of her classmates founded.  

Creating a community of HNC students virtually is no easy feat, especially when my classmates and I are spread out all over the world. But we’ve been doing well so far—the student committee (banwei) established a language partner program, hosts movie nights, and is also in the process of organizing a talent show. The non-Chinese students have been having weekly Chinese Corner 中文角 meetings since the early-admission students were admitted in December! But I knew something was missing.

Though I’ve been connected to my classmates for a long time now, I quickly noticed that almost all of my friends at the HNC are male and thus also found a strong need to connect with the women of the HNC. At least in my cohort, I noticed that the female international students were outnumbered, but there was a more balanced ratio of female-to-male students on the China side. It's exciting to connect with the large number of female Chinese classmates and to continue forging our cross-cultural relationships!

The idea for this club came about when I attended the in-person introductory meeting for the Washington, DC Chapter of the Global Women in Leadership (GWL) Club. Immediately after I heard there is a member of the DC GWL executive board dedicated as the liaison between the DC GWL, the Bologna GWL Chapter, and the HNC, I knew that I had to get an HNC Chapter in motion. Currently, there is a huge push both academically and socially to connect all three SAIS campuses, an initiative I am appreciative of and happy to play my part in.

The co-founders of the HNC GWL Chapter embarking on this initiative with me are Rebecca Ash-Cervantes, Hailey McGleam, Lucy Bennett, and myself on the international side along with Li Yuying 李玉颖 and Liu Yaxiang 刘雅翔 on the China side. We are all excited and eager to get this club off the ground!

The mission of the GWL is to uplift and support women both personally and professionally. The beautiful thing about the HNC GWL is that we are a unique community of women who want to do work in this Sino-Global field, which means that we have unique and specific Sino-Global challenges to face—whether it be crossing cultural lines, forming cross-cultural bonds, interacting with international professors and classmates, starting a career internationally, or adapting to a new country. Basically, we are challenged with navigating the international space as a woman,  where we might encounter cultural, social, and professional norms different from what we are used to in our home countries.

A big item of importance to us is inclusivity – we are about connecting people, after all. We invite all women, cisgender or transgender or femme-of-center anywhere in between, anyone who identifies with women’s issues and faces the challenges women face in society to join our group. We welcome anyone who identifies or expresses themselves as a woman. After all, we are united, and all women’s issues are all women’s issues.

Our first informational meeting was held on October 31, 2021. We went over our ideas and goals for the club and welcomed all the new members! We want to connect the women in our community, support the growing feminist sentiment and movement in China, empower women in our community personally and professionally, and create a space for women at the HNC to tell stories, voice concerns, and share experiences. Because inclusivity and skill development are so important to us, we are focused on providing all of our publications, announcements, and materials in both Chinese and English. Along with that, we encourage all women to practice their target language whenever they feel comfortable doing so – the GWL club is definitely a space for that!

In the future, we are hoping to host events such as alumni chats; networking events; workshops on interviewing and salary negotiation; informational meetings about certain industries and areas of knowledge; roundtable discussions about topics such as feminism, international relations, and politics; movie/TV nights; and casual “happy hour” social events! We plan to have monthly meetings either inclusive of or in addition to these events—that is to be determined. 

Aside from the meetings, we are planning to start a newsletter further down the line, where we will highlight members’ accomplishments, share job and scholarship opportunities, post campus safety information, and publish members’ papers and op-ed pieces.

Lastly, we have a WeChat group to talk about upcoming events and share personal victories, no matter how big or small! I hope that this club will become an HNC institution that connects and inspires women for many years to come. If I leave any legacy at the HNC at all, I hope that it will be helping to create this space where the women at the HNC can connect and uplift each other through the Global Women in Leadership Club.