Forest Purnell

Interview with Forest – SGA HNC Representative

Read Time:12 Minute, 12 Second

专访石硕:SAIS学生会中美中心学生代表

Wenjuan Wu

吴文娟

Forest Purnell, a second-year MAIS student, spoke to us as the Hopkins-Nanjing Center Representative (HNC Rep) at SAIS Student Government Association (SGA). We are pleased to interview Forest to know more about the SGA and his efforts as the HNC Rep.

恭喜二年级中美中心硕士生石硕(Forest Purnell)成为新一届保罗尼采高级国际研究学院学生会(SAIS学生会)的中美中心学生代表。我们很荣幸能够邀请他参与这次访谈,带我们走近SAIS学生会,并了解他担任中美中心学生代表的工作内容和职责。

What is SGA? Could you briefly introduce its role and structure for HNC students and alumni who may not be familiar with it?

SAIS学生会是怎样的组织呢?你能为尚不了解SAIS学生会的中美中心成员简要介绍一下它的职责和组织架构吗?

The SGA is an organization that aims to facilitate the life of students at SAIS and help them actively participate in the events held on and off campus. The function of the SGA are described in its current five objectives (likely to be revised after new Rep’s discussion):

SAIS学生会的宗旨是为在SAIS学习和生活的同学们提供便利,帮助他们融入校内外各种各样的活动。SAIS学生会的功能可以从它目前的五个目标中体现:(新一届学生代表们正考虑修订这些目标)

  • Orienting and introducing new students to the school 

为新同学们导览和介绍学校;

  • Representing the student body to the administration, faculty, community, and alumni

作为学生群体面向行政部门,教职工,校园社区和校友的代表;

  • Promoting student opinions and interests

鼓励学生的意见发表与兴趣培养;

  • Ensuring proper student representation at the appropriate levels of policy formulation at SAIS

确保SAIS学生在相应的政策制定上有合适的代表;

  • Encouraging student participation in the development of SAIS

鼓励学生参与SAIS的建设。

As for the structure of the SGA, it is relatively horizontal and flexible. The composition of the SGA includes the President (also Chair of the Executive and the principal officer of the SGA), Vice-President, and the Treasurer. In addition, the SGA has:

SAIS学生会的架构具有扁平化和灵活性的特点。SAIS学生会有学生会主席(兼任执行主席和首席代表)、学生会副主席和学生会财务负责人各一位。另外,SAIS学生会还有:

  • A Europe Center Representative

一位欧洲校区学生代表

  • A Hopkins-Nanjing Center Representative

一位中美中心学生代表

  • A Programme Chair

一位项目主席

  • Two First-year Representatives

两位一年级学生代表

  • An MIPP Representative

一位国际公共政策专业学生代表

  • An MIEF Representative

一位国际经济与金融专业学生代表

How did you find out about the SGA? Could you share with us how you became the HNC Rep? What characteristics would make a student a good HNC Rep or SGA Rep? And what does a typical day look like as the HNC Rep?

你是如何知道SAIS学生会的?可以和我们分享你竞选成为中美中心学生代表的过程吗?你认为一位优秀的学生代表需要什么样的特质和能力呢?作为一名中美中心学生代表,你每天的日常工作是什么样的?

Well, I have to confess that I learned about the SGA from the big signal group chat, which isn’t my preferred channel of communication but seems to be the beginning and end of all things these days. My understanding is that SGA has an election every new semester. This year the process of applying to become a representative included sending an email plus cover letter along with a resume. It’s worth noting that an interview is not needed to apply. Instead, you are asked to “face the voters” by uploading a video about yourself on YouTube. I chose to share my video on both YouTube as required and the Chinese social media platform WeChat. I did this to better reach the entire SAIS community, not all of which is physically located in D.C.

我是从Signal群聊知道SAIS学生会的,我个人不倾向这样的沟通渠道,但当今线上交流这个方式贯穿生活。据我所知,SAIS学生会在每个新学年有一次竞选。今年的申请流程是给负责人发送申请邮件,附带个人陈述和简历。值得一提的是,申请没有面试环节。但是,需要在YouTube上传本人的参选视频来争取同学们的支持。除了Youtube,我还把我的竞选视频上传到了微信视频号上。我希望我的竞选视频能被SAIS所有校区的同学看到,而不是只有华盛顿校区。

I’d say basic requirements for a HNC or SGA Representative are good time management, strong communication skills, and a desire to serve the SAIS community. The role does keep one busy, but it is also enjoyable, especially if you like working with a team and making things happen. My responsibilities include integrating students from Nanjing into the SAIS student body, representing the HNC in D.C., organizing events relevant to the HNC community, and improving communication between the Nanjing and Washington, D.C. campuses. A critical task of the HNC Rep is to coordinate with the HNC’s Banwei, or class representatives, which is the elected 4-person student committee usually located in Nanjing but now spread around the world due to the Center’s current state being mostly virtual. To sum up, the role of the HNC Rep is to facilitate, communicate, serve, and lead. If you’re thinking about becoming the HNC Rep next year, you should give it a shot! 

我认为,一位优秀的学生代表应当具备较强的时间管理能力,出色的沟通能力以及热衷于服务SAIS社群等基本素养。学生代表的工作是忙碌的,但也是充实愉悦的,特别是当你和团队协作让想法落地的时候。我的职责主要包括:促进来自南京的同学融入SAIS社群;在华盛顿校区作为中美中心学生的代表;组织和中美中心有关的活动;加强中美中心和华盛顿校区的联系。其中,比较重要的一项工作是与中美中心班委团保持联络并同他们协作。班委团由4名学生在竞选后组成,由于中美中心目前的网络教学模式,班委们也分散在不同地方。总的来说,中美中心学生代表的职责就是提供便利、保持交流、服务同学和举办活动。如果你想在下一学年担任学生代表,你一定要试一试!

How do you connect your previous work with what you are doing now at the SGA?

你如何把你之前的经历运用到SAIS学生会的工作上的?

Bennington College, my undergrad, was established by followers of the American philosopher John Dewey. Dewey was one of the founders of pragmatism, a school of thinking that  emphasized “learning by doing,” explained most succinctly in his book Art as Experience. From my point of view, you haven’t learned something until you are able to reproduce it or somehow make it new. Everything I’ve done since undergrad, whether working in documentary film during the Fulbright Program in Beijing, or as a Naval Officer on ships over the last half decade, were both manifestations, I’d say, of this fusion of big concepts and everyday life. Being a practitioner is something deeply ingrained in my approach, not to deny the importance of theory but to always be able to lift my gaze toward the real world and the impact on lives and communities. SAIS has a similar kind of ethos being a school focused largely on the “art of the possible.” For me, being part of SGA means being part of the strong experiential component of the school, both by building stronger ties within our walls and facilitating the structures that allow us to be a place where students organize a substantial amount of programs.

我本科在本宁顿学院,它由美国哲学家约翰·杜威的追随者建立的。杜威是实用主义的创始人之一,属于强调“在实践中学习”的思想流派,他在《艺术即经验》一书中简洁地解释了这一点。按照我对杜威思想的理解,在你重新创造某个事物或以某种方式使它成为新的东西之前,你不算真正学习了它们。我从本科开始所做的一切,无论是在北京富布赖特项目中拍摄纪录片的经历,还是过去五年我在船上的海军经历,都是在探索知行合一。作为一名实践者,通过实践来学习、掌握真理的理念已嵌入我的生活。我不认为理论不重要,但是我更想强调对于现实世界的关注以及通过实践影响生活和社群的可能。作为一个关注“可能性的艺术”的学院,SAIS有着类似的理念。对我来说,成为SAIS学生会的一员意味着增强师生们在SAIS生活的实感,并通过加强校内联系并推动结构完善,使学生会成为能够举办大量项目和活动的学生组织。

Were you inspired by someone to join SGA? What was your motivation to become the HNC Rep?

你是否受他人启发加入SAIS学生会?你想成为中美中心学生代表的原因是什么?

One time, I was talking to last year’s HNC Rep and he shared his experience. I found it fascinating and beneficial personally. I also met other people at SGA and  their experiences match my reasons to apply.

我和上一届的学生代表交流过。我觉得这个工作比较有趣而且对个人发展也很有帮助。我也与其他在SAIS学生会工作的人聊过,他们分享的经历和我想申请的原因很契合。

I mentioned before that classes at the Hopkins Nanjing Center remain virtual, so for my first semester at SAIS I attempted the extreme cost-saving measure of staying at home in the Allegheny Mountains, with more bears and deer in the immediate vicinity than people. I jury-rigged a 4G modem onto a giant antenna to eke out sufficient bandwidth for Zoom. Needless to say, the experience taught me once and for all that man is a social animal (or at least I am). I also lived in northeast D.C. my second semester but didn’t show up to campus much. Now that I am in D.C. and close to campus, I appreciate any opportunity not only to exchange knowledge, which can happen online, but to make real friends and relationships of trust, which is much harder over Zoom.  

因为中美中心采用线上授课的方式,在SAIS的第一学期我选了一个最省钱的办法:待在家里。阿利根尼亚山脉附近的熊和鹿比居住的人还多。为了我的网课能够顺利进行,我还在一个巨大的天线上临时安装了一个4G解调器。这段经历让我明白了人是社会性动物(至少我很清楚我是)。第二学期我住在华盛顿特区东北部,但不常去学校。现在我住在华盛顿特区,离学校很近,我想珍惜一切可能的机会相互学习、结交朋友。尽管在线上也能相互交流,但是我们很难在线上建立友谊与信任。

Secondly, I ran for the SGA election because I did not like the idea of the HNC lacking student representation. Much of my time as a SAIS student I have felt invisible, unsure of where to find resources or how to meet new people. The administration can only do so much to help the situation and much depends on students reaching out to each other. I also think making the program itself more visible and keeping people informed about the situation of the HNC is an important thing. I’ve found that most SAIS students and faculty I meet in D.C. are surprised to learn that the classes are still virtual, and some even think the program has officially relocated to Taiwan.

其次,我参与这次SAIS学生会的竞选是因为我不想学生会没有中美中心的学生代表。在SAIS校园中,很多时候我都觉得自己存在感很低,不知道上哪儿找资源,也不知道该怎么结交新朋友。行政部门只能做其职责内的事情,关键还是得依靠学生间的互相帮助。我也希望让更多人了解中美中心,并了解中美中心现在的特殊情况。我在华盛顿遇到的大部分师生都对中美中心现在还在线上授课感到很惊讶,甚至有人误以为这个项目已经转移到台湾。

An interesting silver-lining to the situation is that I am probably the first SGA representative who is simultaneously a student at the HNC, whereas usually it would be a returned MAIR certificate student in this position. If every crisis is also an opportunity, I see this as a chance to harness the latent energy of our HNC diaspora, from Nanjing to Taipei to Minneapolis and to Dupont Circle, to build more lasting links to the D.C. campus that can last beyond my tenure.  I see greater closeness between the HNC and the D.C. campus as a good thing because there is a real chasm between the beltway China expert culture and the academic China-studies ivory tower that SAIS is uniquely positioned to address. 

值得庆幸的是,我可能是第一个在中美中心就读期间担任SAIS学生会学生代表的同学。此前一般是由已经完成在南京的证书班学业并回到华盛顿继续MAIR学业的学生担任这个职位。挑战是和机会并存的。对我来说,中美中心如今线上授课的模式以及学生散落在南京、台北、杜邦圆环以及明尼阿波利斯等世界各地的情况让我意识到这是一个建立中美中心同学间更为长久的联系纽带的机会。我认为SAIS跨校区联动有助于加强中美中心和华盛顿校区间的沟通,弥合中国学术界和美国中国学研究之间鸿沟。

Finally, unlike some, I don’t see person-to-person cultural exchange as naive or belonging to a previous era in the US-China relations. As a former Fulbright research scholar to Beijing, some of the most critical insights that I’ve had about big policy issues or cultural topics started with a frank conversation over lunch. I remembered this when a bunch of HNC students got together for dinner in September on the occasion of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival holiday. It seemed daunting to find a venue, cook, plan transportation and all of that, but people stepped up to make all the work light. This event inspired me to take more leaps of faith and just keep making things happen. Maybe the next dinner event will be a Lunar New Year gala, who knows! 

最后,我不认为人和人之间直接的文化交流是不成熟的,也不认为它是属于中美关系旧时代下的行为。作为曾经的北京富布赖特研究学者,我对重大政策问题或文化议题的深刻批判性见解都是从午餐会上的坦率交谈开始形成的。我记得今年中秋节,一群中美中心的学生计划聚在一起吃饭。刚开始筹备的时候,找场地、做饭、安排出行这些事情让人头大,但大家都参与进来后工作就变得轻松了。这次的活动让我有了更多自信,并相信只要努力去做,想法一定能实现。也许下一次聚餐活动会是春节联欢晚会,谁知道呢!

How does the experience as the HNC Rep link to your career? What is the most challenging thing about the role?

你如何看待中美中心学生代表的经历和你职业生涯间的联系?担任中美中心学生代表,最有挑战性的部分在哪里?

As for the career question, all I can say is “all in good time.” I know many of our alumni from the HNC, at least the ones I met in D.C., go on to research analyst positions, whether for business or government or whoever else wants to be “in the know.” I think the subject of this work sounds fascinating, but going back to my “social animal” comment, I’m interested in something more team and project based. These days the U.S.-China relationship seems to shoot through every topic on the global stage, so I’m sure my studies will be relevant to whatever I end up doing after graduation. For now I am focused on doing what I can to make the HNC experience the best it can be under current circumstances, strengthen the connection between the HNC and the SGA in D.C., and write a quality thesis. The challenge is a practical one of time management, and also a mental one of maintaining a disposition that doesn’t sacrifice contemplation for action or vice versa. Very pragmatic!

关于职业选择,我只能说“一切都是最好的安排”。据我了解,中美中心的很多校友(至少我在华盛顿特区认识的几位校友)都成为了分析师,为企业、政府或者那些想要“查明情况”的人工作。这类工作内容挺吸引人,但我清楚地知道我自己是“社会性动物”,因此我对围绕团队和项目的工作更感兴趣。当下,所有的全球性议题都离不开中美关系,因此我相信我的所学能够运用到我毕业后从事的任何岗位中。目前,我想做的就是尽全力让中美中心成员能在现有条件下拥有最好的就读体验,同时加强中美中心和SAIS学生会之间的联系,并产出一篇高水平的毕业论文。这对我而言是时间管理的挑战,也是平衡思考与行动之间关系的挑战。非常受用!

What are your general plans and ideas for the upcoming events?

你对于接下来的学生活动有什么样的计划和想法?

There are three main areas that I want to focus on. The first I would label as “student-organized academic activities.” Beth Wooten, an MAIR student who works at the China Center here in D.C., had the great idea of developing a “research partner” program between the campuses.  This would involve matching up students with sufficiently advanced language skills who have similar research interests, to share resources or conduct fieldwork for each other. I know many HNC students would be interested in this kind of opportunity, especially over the course of their thesis research.  Second, I’m working with one of the Banwei to develop a virtual version of an old SAIS tradition of “brown bag lunches,” which would give students a chance to have a small-group, informal chat with a professor from the other campus. I’m also keeping the HNC community in D.C. aware of particularly relevant events they could be involved in, such as the China Club’s US-China Dialogues. On top of all of that, for the whole SGA, I am the key organizer for SAIS Debates and next semester’s Student Speaker Series.

我的计划大致可以分为三个部分。首先在学业板块,我最先想到的是“学生组织的学术活动”。Beth Wooten是一位来自华盛顿校区中国研究中心的同学,她在推动校区间的“研讨伙伴”项目上有许多非常好的想法。“研讨伙伴”项目旨在配对具有较强语言能力并有共同研究兴趣的学生。他们可以分享资源并帮助彼此开展田野调查。我了解到许多中美中心的同学会对这样的项目感兴趣,特别是正在写毕业论文的同学。另外,我还想与中美中心班委协作推出线上形式的SAIS午餐会,给同学们提供一个非正式的、小规模的和另外一个校区的教授进行交流的机会。我也想让在华盛顿校区的中美中心成员了解与他们相关的活动,比如中国研讨社的中美对话。除此之外,在SAIS学生会中我主要负责的还有SAIS辩论活动和下学期的学生演讲活动。

The second area of focus is communication. I’ve been keeping a close personal eye on all the ways people share information about events and opportunities within HNC and the SAIS D.C. campus. Thinking back to my “exile days” in the woods and in northeast D.C., I never received the Blueser or was aware of many student club events. There would be a great mutual benefit to bridge appropriate and relevant information between the various HNC locations and D.C., and I’m thinking of the best way to filter through the noise of the many chats, newsletters, and flyers to bring people on both campuses the stuff they would be interested in knowing. Another issue I would like to work on is the lack of a directory for student leadership. Right now the only way to find out who is leading a student club, or who the HNC Banwei are is to ask around, if you know who to ask. I think it would be empowering for student leaders to have a resource that would allow them to know “who’s who” and be able to reach out to each other laterally to plan events or just share notes. 

第二是通讯板块。我一直在密切关注南京校区和华盛顿校区分享活动和机会的各类渠道。回顾之前那段“投身自然”的日子,我从未收到过Blueser也不太了解学生社团活动。我觉得让中美中心在其他地方的同学和在华盛顿校区的同学知晓彼此的信息对双方都是很有帮助的。我也在思考是否有好的办法从一堆杂乱的聊天、校刊和宣传单上梳理出两个校区学生感兴趣的内容,以增强他们的联系。另一个我想到的是我们缺少与社团负责人直接沟通的渠道。目前我们要查询谁在组织一个社团或者谁担任中美中心班委,只能找人打听。我在考虑建立一个联络中心,帮助同学们更快地联系到社团负责人,共同举办活动并分享经验。

For recreational events, I’m aware the HNC had a karaoke competition and some movie nights last year. I would like to keep these events going and expand them. I am considering whether these events, though in-person, could still connect to the virtual community through things like, if it’s a competition, posting leaderboards, or for a movie night, having a virtual discussion afterward.

第三是文娱版块。我知道中美中心去年举办了线上的K歌比赛还有电影之夜。我想继续办这些活动并做出一些改进。虽然这些活动是线下的,我在想能否通过一些方式让线上的同学更有参与感。比如对比赛类型的活动,可以公布排行榜;对于电影之夜,可以观影结束后来场线上会谈。

Finally, SGA is generally looking for volunteers that would help us increase capacity to do events like all the ones I mentioned above. I would be excited to work with anyone who is interested and committed to making any of the items I mentioned or other innovative concepts come to life.

最后,SAIS学生会正在招募志愿者协助我们举办前面提到的各类活动。我希望能和更多志同道合的朋友们一起,把我们对学生活动的构想变为现实。


Many sincere thanks to Forest for his time, for sharing plentiful information about SGA and passionate plans to improve the connection between the HNC and the SAIS D.C. campus as the HNC Rep. Now, it is up to us to harness opportunities to engage the wider SAIS community, including the Hopkins Nanjing Center. We are hoping to see many new events this academic year, and await everyone’s active participation. 

非常感谢石硕配合我们完成这次访谈,带我们了解SAIS学生会,并分享他对于在担任中美中心学生代表期间将如何加强中美中心和SAIS华盛顿校区的联系的愿景。作为中美中心的成员,我们也应把握机会融入中美中心,融入更广阔的SAIS平台。期待这学期的新活动,期待各位的积极参与。

About Post Author

wwj1017

Happy
Happy
100 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

Average Rating

5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%

Leave a Reply

Previous post Another Rise of Cai Qi
%d bloggers like this: