Spring 2023 Banwei: No one left behind

Spring 2023 Banwei: No one left behind

On Friday, February 24th, Hopkins-Nanjing Center students gathered on Zoom to elect their new Spring 2023 student representatives, a group of four students known as the banwei (班委). United by their desire to “leave no one behind” as the HNC transitions from a hybrid to an in-person environment, Fu Jiapei, Nancy Brancati, Alexander Nash, and Cheng Feiyu were selected to advocate for their fellow students. I had the lovely opportunity of speaking with our four new representatives and learning more about who they are, their inspiration to join the banwei, and their visions for this semester.  

Meet the Spring 2023 Banwei!

The Spring 2023 Banwei in the Hopkins-Nanjing Center's courtyard

傅佳沛 Fu Jiapei (MAIS 2024) 

From Xiamen, Fujian, Jiapei was a French major at Nanjing University Jinling College. After discovering a newfound passion in the social sciences, Jiapei joined HNC as an ERE concentrator.  

贝念慈 Nancy Brancati (MAIS 2023) 

Born in New York and raised in New Jersey, Nancy studied Chinese language and literature, political science, and economics at Hunter College. She joined the HNC to deepen her economics background and improve her Chinese language abilities.  

亚历山大 Alexander “Alec” Nash (MAIS 2024) 

Alec is originally from Atlanta, Georgia and studied international relations with a concentration in East Asia at Emory University. After graduating, Alec worked in international education for four years before enrolling at the HNC to make his transition into an economics-based career.  

程飞羽 Cheng Feiyu (MAIS 2024)  

Feiyu is from Luoyang, Henan. He studied English literature at Northeastern University in Shenyang, Liaoning. He joined HNC because he was interested in interdisciplinary research and the diverse background the HNC offered with its mix of Chinese and international students.  

What inspired you to join banwei?  

Fu Jiapei, MAIS 2024

Jiapei: So first of all, I am an ESFJ, so I always tend to help others. The second reason is making sure banwei really means helping our students and providing services instead of empty promises. I really want to do something useful and make others feel relaxed and happy. If I can help them, that would be great.  

Nancy: I’ve always had leadership qualities and tendencies in my personality. I served on my high school student government, and I made sure to put events on for the student body and ensuring everything went smoothly. I believe what makes a good leader is someone who feels they have to help others, not because they want to. I feel the same pull to help others.  

Alec: Funnily enough, I wasn’t really intending on running the morning of banwei elections. But I had a lot of friends reach out to me, saying that I was a good fit for banwei. So, who am I to say no to my classmates?  

Feiyu: I was banwei for all four years in my undergrad; I was the only student to run and be elected for four consecutive terms. I was also inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he said, “everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.” I believe banwei gives me an opportunity to build my leadership skills and serve others.  

What are some goals you hope to accomplish this semester? What challenges do you foresee?  

Nancy Brancati, MAIS 2023

Jiapei: I want to incorporate more roundtable discussions throughout the semester to allow students to express themselves. Second, a lot of international students are just arriving to Nanjing and want to learn more about China. So, I want to organize exploration trips into places international students would not encounter otherwise. I hope to have fundraisers to help fund these trips. The biggest challenge is including everyone who is currently not at the HNC. Even though we can set up live broadcasts, online students may not feel a strong sense of participation in events.  

Nancy: Online programming’s hardest problem is zoom fatigue. After classes and readings, the last thing you want to do is join another zoom meeting even if that means having great conversations. Even though we are longing for a sense of community, no one wants to log on. Instead, I want to focus on the online events that got people the most excited, like the cultural and language exchanges. I want to facilitate breakout rooms or something similar to pair students up that may not know each other and give prompting questions to spark conversations.  

Alec: I want to represent the students well, to deliver on what students want, and make student life more comfortable. I also want to help the newly arriving international students to the HNC with adjusting and learning to all the great things Nanjing has to offer. One challenge is the “in-between” time we are in right now. Last semester, a lot of plans were canceled due to pandemic-related restrictions and closures. Now, we are still not completely back to normal, and while we want to offer in-person students as much as possible, we need to make sure no one in the overseas student body is left behind.  

Feiyu: I want to help renew some of the HNC facilities. I also want to help promote and preserve women’s rights on campus. I’m trying to launch a project of establishing women-only hours at the HNC gym to provide more comfort and a sense of security for the community. While I don’t believe that the things that happen at regular gyms will happen at HNC, some female classmates have expressed to me that they would feel more encouraged to go to the gym if there were women-only hours.  

What is the legacy you hope to leave as a banwei representative?  

Cheng Feiyu, MAIS 2024

Jiapei: I want to create a student handbook that acts like a guide for living in Nanjing and HNC. It will be published online and will be updated frequently because everyone can join in on writing and editing. I hope this handbook can make the HNC experience more accessible.  

Nancy: A project I have been working on is a journal for the HNC student body to “leave their mark” on campus. I started this in Washington, DC with the HNC student community there, where everyone wrote a letter to future students. I hope to then leave this journal on campus, so those who could not come during their time in the program can still at least have some presence at the HNC.  

Alec: I want our team to help HNC make the smooth transition out of the pandemic era. There are a lot of expectations to bring back all the traditions, but there are not many students around who remember those traditions. Instead, I think we should do our best to recreate as many traditions as we can while creating new ones. 

Feiyu: I want to encourage future banwei leaders to write down their ideas and debate with themselves. I learned this during British Parliamentary debate; it forced me to understand dissenting arguments. That way we can improve our ideas and make them better serve the community.  

What are you looking forward to working with your other banwei members?  

Alec Nash, MAIS 2024

Jiapei: First. I am really happy to be working with the other 3 banwei representatives. I am already good friends with them, and they are all nice and reliable people. So, I am really looking forward to organizing activities and tackling problems with them together. 

Nancy: I’m excited to work with everyone. We’re all on campus, and this is the first in-person banwei HNC has seen in three years. Everyone is really nice, bright, and hardworking. I can see us cooperating well and building off each other’s ideas.  

Alec: All four of us came in with some shared goals, and other different goals. Our joint purpose should be finding common ground amongst the four of us and using collaboration to accomplish our goals.  

Feiyu: We should be efficient, creating a clear work life balance to deal with our workload. Projects cannot be done overnight, so we have to arrange ourselves and our time in a way to accomplish them efficiently.  

Our Spring 2023 banwei is definitely very passionate about serving the Hopkins-Nanjing Center student body. All four spoke to bringing back energy and life to the HNC while making sure students who remain overseas are not left behind. I know I am personally very excited to see these ideas come to life, and I am confident that they will continue to benefit future HNC students after we all graduate.

Written by Betty Thai, MAIR+HNC Certificate 2023