Category: Student Life

Beat the Smog: How to be a Runner in China

BY LOGAN PAULEY

Pauley - Illustration 1 Smog in Beijing obscuring vision
Photo Credit: Logan Pauley

In 2014, a trend on the popular micro-blogging platform, Weibo, featured users posting the quip, “breathing together, we share the same fate.” This was a reference to China’s worsening pollution problem.

News sources report that China’s pollution is visible from space and the extent of the smog problem has induced a “nuclear winter.” Economists have speculated that pollution and carbon emissions will only worsen in the foreseeable future, peaking in 2030. This is a terrifying possibility, as China’s head adviser on environmental policy, Li Junfeng, stated in February that Beijing in its current state is “barely suitable” for living.

As a runner, I feel the impact of China’s environmental problems acutely. But I have found ways to work around the issue.

I constantly check various websites to verify Nanjing’s Air Quality Index and assess whether I should go outside on a given day. The World Health Organization advises that people should not spend prolonged or unnecessary periods of time outside when the PM2.5 level (the concentration of atmospheric particulate matter) is greater than 30. On Jan. 1, Nanjing’s AQI was 179—a score that merits “unhealthy” conditions. For the entire month, Nanjing stayed relatively close to this AQI level, but other cities (and at times even Nanjing) reach the 300 or 400 mark; on such days, I don’t step outside if I can avoid it.

Pauley - Illustration 2 Runners wearing masks during the 2014 Shanghai Marathjon
Photo Credit: Logan Pauley

Such complications take a toll on my running routine. As an avid mid- to long-distance runner, it is often frustrating to experience a warm, sunny day, only to realize that the buildings off in the distance are nearly indiscernible due to the smog enveloping everything. When training for a race, most runners tend to have meticulously planned weekly mileages or training schedules, but when Mother Nature throws China a polluted curveball, one needs to be flexible.

Instead of designating Saturday as my endurance run for the week, or setting up a daily plan for specific distance runs, I now have to plan on-the-fly. If a certain day has an AQI reading below 100, then I have to go for a long run. If the AQI is a little higher but still below 150, my body can handle running for a moderate amount of time, but it is not advisable to push your legs (and lungs). When the air quality reaches less healthy levels, running outside is not an option; cross-training and high-intensity aerobic routines in a gym with air filters then become the most optimal means to continue training.

However, air filtration systems and supposed “clean gyms” are often not as clean as they seem.  In much of China, it is commonplace to leave the windows or doors of the building open, even if it is designed with the intent of serving as an unpolluted haven. The issue stems from the lack of an earnest acknowledgment of the ramifications of environmental problems—as poor air quality and unsustainable living standards become the norm, it becomes difficult to implement and enforce policies within gyms (or businesses, or anywhere else) to help mitigate these issues. Although it may seem valiant that lionhearted Chinese runners donned breathing masks to participate in the 2014 Beijing Marathon, the willingness to endure and quite literally run through existing problems is testament to the fact that these environmental issues are not sufficiently understood or addressed.

It is difficult to foresee any rapid changes in China’s attitude towards its environmental welfare, as much of the country’s grand national strategy relies on robust economic growth (which, in turn, generates pollution).

If one comes to accept this reality, maintaining a running regimen becomes more doable: it simply requires coming to terms with the fact that a schedule cannot be followed and that the decision to go for a long run cannot always be planned. Air quality concerns also drive more creative means for dynamic, indoor workouts; in order to sustain aerobic progress, runners have to tailor their workouts to the day’s environmental status.

While I have personally seen regression in my running abilities and overall level of fitness, it is not a totally unmanageable situation. Friends from running groups in Nanjing and Shanghai have claimed, “the air has never stopped me from getting in my weekly miles—I just put on a mask,” and “the air just forces me to work harder on the days I am actually able to run.”

Environmental concerns and ways to promote a more sustainable future continue to dominate public debate in the country. Regarding President Xi Jinping’s visit to Paris and the Chinese government’s launch of a carbon cap and trade system, runners can look forward to the prospect of a greener tomorrow.

It is important to remember, however, whether one is trying to maintain a running schedule or to help mediate environmental issues, progress is a marathon, not a sprint.

IDEV Magazine Launches With Migration Theme

BY EMILY WALZ AND PATRICK KELLEY

SAIS Europe student Jason Spizer's photo of Syrian refugees won this year's SAIS Perspectives photo contest. The Photo shows a father and daughter who had escaped to Kurdish-controlled territory in August 2014 (Photo Courtesy: Jason Spizer)
SAIS Europe student Jason Spizer’s photo of Syrian refugees won this year’s SAIS Perspectives photo contest. The Photo shows a father and daughter who had escaped to Kurdish-controlled territory in August 2014 (Photo Courtesy: Jason Spizer)

This fall, Perspectives, the student-run publication in the SAIS International Development department, marked the launch of the 2015-2016 journal with events on the Washington, D.C. and SAIS Europe campuses. Led by editor-in-chief Gabor Debreczeni, the editorial team includes senior editors Ashley Augsburger and Deea Ariana and editor Brittany Grabel in D.C. and editors Maria Lopez Conde and Krishnan Raghavan in Bologna.

The SAIS Europe launch event was put on by the Bologna-based editors and featured remarks from international development professor Arntraud Hartmann exploring how migration can and often does positively impact the sending and receiving countries. Migration and displacement has been a topic of interest to students in Bologna, with the fall semester’s course on Migration and Security going to bid. Both Raghavan and Conde are hoping that the academic interest at SAIS Europe carries over to their publication, which accepts blog submissions up to 600 words as well as pieces for the magazine, which can be as long as 1,600 words. “I think with this kind of event we can kind of get the word out there for people to submit things,” Conde said. “People are very engaged in this campus, at least in the migration issue, people are really engaged … so I’d really like to see submissions come out of this.”

Considering SAIS Europe students are studying on the continent at a time when migration issues are at the fore, Raghavan is hoping to capture the stories of SAIS students’ interactions with migration for the magazine. “One thing that we were really hoping to get is more of peoples’ personal stories on working with migrants,” Raghavan said. “Here, a lot of professors and lot of our classmates have been involved in the kind of ad hoc efforts to help refugees coming in to the train stations and we’d love to hear those stories especially.”

Both launch events included the announcement of the winners of a photo contest held on the  theme. Twenty-five students submitted photos to the contest, with a handful more participating through Facebook and Instagram, hash-tagging their submissions.

First-prize winner Jason Spizer, a student studying on the SAIS Europe campus this year, submitted a photograph of Syrian refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan. He notes of the moment, “Prior to taking the photo, I was going around to different tents and chatting with families about their stories escaping on Mount Sinjar, or in some cases as captives under the Islamic State group. In between interviews I would walk around the camp, and try to get a feel for what people were doing with their time. Yazidis are extremely hospitable, so I approached this man when I saw him motion for me to come over and drink tea with him. His daughter was peeking over his shoulder, and I wanted to capture the two of them together in their environment, bearing in mind that there were many Yazidi girls who no longer had a father there to protect them.”

Second-prize winner Mugi Bayarlkhagva captured a group of Afghans traveling down the highway in Iran. Recalling the scene, Bayarlkhagva contemplated the experience of the refugees: “I was well into my third month in Iran and was travelling from Esfahan to Tehran. Just as we entered the highway a small wedding convoy of 5-6 cars overtook us with a boy making a recording of the event with his torso out the window of a car. I wondered if it was dangerous to do, since driving in Iran can be little different. ‘They are Afghans! Want to take photos?’ asked my driver with an encouraging grin. Realizing that I failed to recognize my kin (I am Mongolian and Afghans in Iran are mostly Shia Hazaras –they have distinct Asian features, possibly of Mongol stock), I nodded back in response. We sped past the loud and happy convoy playing Persian music, and took few shots of people who grew obviously self-conscious with my sight.

“I thought of the two days I spent in the immigration office for visa extension, and rooms full Hazaras doing their annual bureaucracy. An old man spoke to me, who had left Afghanistan in 1979 and never went back. He married an Iranian woman and had three children with his oldest son in the army. Then, I thought of another acquaintance: a 20-year-old refugee and recently naturalized Austrian citizen, who came back to see his girlfriend. It might sound obvious, but it sort of started making sense — the mosaic fell into its place. Being a refugee does not mean accepting the circumstances and staying put. Life goes on, whether it is searching for economic opportunities, or founding a family.”

Perspectives has published articles on this theme so far by both current students and professors on themes including the lives and challenges of migrant workers living in the shadows in Singapore, the failures of Turkish foreign policy regarding Syrian refugees, reversals in Canadian asylum policies with the election of the Liberal government, and a broad overview of  global challenges in migration.  

Begun as a print journal, Perspectives was transferred to the web last year under the tenure of editor Jacob Morrin and is now in its second year as an online journal. Ashley Augsburger notes the transition “allows us to update content continuously and create a more engaging and participatory project.” The theme of “migration and displacement” will be the focus for articles for the rest of this year, though the editors will continue to accept submissions on all development topics. The journal can be found online at saisperspectives.com and on Twitter @SAISdev and on Instagram.

Fire and SAIS Win D.C. Championship

BY ROKU FUKUI

Fire and SAIS celebrate after their upset win in the championship game (Photo Courtesy: Roku Fukui)
Fire and SAIS celebrate after their upset win in the championship game (Photo Courtesy: Roku Fukui)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Saturday, Dec. 12, an unusually warm afternoon, SAIS’s 11-a-side mixed soccer team, known as Fire and SAIS, won the group championship in Washington, D.C.’s District Sports Division 3 co-ed soccer league. With the semifinal and final on the same day, the SAIS squad found itself in the championship match pitted against the previously undefeated top-ranked team. During halftime huddle, Captain Davide Pini, a staunch Juventus fan originally from Parma, Italy, predicted the outcome of the game and motivated the team emphatically stating, “These guys aren’t used to losing. They’re due for an upset!”

The SAIS team is made up of roughly 25 male and female SAIS students with varying levels of soccer experience. The team finished the season with a 6-1-1 record with a 2-1 score in the final with goals from Chris Czerwinski and Mathew Hess. Co-Captain Alyssa Teddy is looking forward to continuing the momentum of the championship into the spring season.

Fire and SAIS hopes to organize a game against Georgetown. All players are welcome.

SAIS Europe Students Attend 15th Annual World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates

Photo Courtesy: Katherine Hoselton
Photo Courtesy: Katherine Hoselton

BY ANA VASUDEVAN & KADY HAMMER

The Saturday morning session began with a moment of silence. Reflecting on the events of Nov. 13, the Nobel laureates shared their thoughts on the previous night’s tragedy in Paris, relating their condolences to those affected while also addressing difficult issues such as the treatment of migrants entering into Europe, the perception of religion in the context of extremism, and the role of militarism in the 21st century. Given the prevalent discourse of refugee integration and growing skepticism concerning refugees and violent acts in Europe, the laureates put into perspective the reasons refugees flee their home countries and how an entire group of people should not be scapegoats for planned acts of terror of a select few. The words of wisdom from those on stage rang through the auditorium of the Fira Barcelona Convention Center, allowing the audience to internalize messages of peace, nonviolence, and solidarity as answers to fanaticism. In light of the situation, this was a conversation that could not be ignored at a world summit of Nobel peace laureates focused on “Advocating for Refugees and Achieving World Peace.”

        Over the past 15 years, summits have taken place in cities like Rome, Paris, Berlin, Hiroshima, Chicago, and Warsaw. Originally founded by Vadim Zagladin and the Gorbachev Foundation to bring together Nobel peace laureates and leaders from around the world, the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates (WSNPL) is currently chaired by former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev and Walter Veltroni, and organized by the permanent secretariat of the WSNPL. The WSNPL serves as an annual conference for individual Nobel peace prize winners, representatives of Nobel prize-recipient organizations, organizations working in relevant fields, and youth delegates, hosting discussions and workshops about world issues including gender rights, generational gaps, environmental sustainability, and development.

This year, under the auspices of the newly-created Youth Association for Peace (YAP), an organization founded to help students in Europe attend the annual World Summit, 15 SAIS Bologna students were selected through an application process to participate in this year’s activities in Barcelona, Spain, from Nov. 11-15. YAP is currently headed by Master’s students in International Relations and Politics at Konstanz University in Germany and a SAIS alumnus. Commenting on the group dynamic of the European delegation, SAIS Europe student Lemuel Robinson said, “I enjoyed meeting and talking to the students from Konstanz University at the conference. They brought an interesting perspective to the discussions, and I’m happy that they invited us to join their delegation.”

Conference workshops were held in different venues around Barcelona’s bustling Plaça d’Espanya and University of Barcelona’s campus. Among the notable speakers were Lech Walesa, former president of Poland; F.W. de Klerk, former president of South Africa; and Jody Williams, a SAIS alumna known for her work banning anti-personnel landmines. An organization called ShelterBox, a contracted nongovernmental organization that has worked closely with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees regarding Syrian refugees traveling through the Greek island of Lesbos, gave a presentation on their work in makeshift refugee camps and providing basic supplies like tents, survival equipment, and stoves to these refugees in a “shelter box.” In addition, many students participated in drafting the Final Youth Declaration of the summit, based on the United Nation’s 17 new Sustainable Development Goals, that was read out at the closing ceremony of the conference.

When asked to describe her experience and overall impression of this year’s conference, SAIS Europe student Chelsea Sommer explained, “The zeal for positive social change was electrifying and could be felt in the air the moment the summit began. Being at the conference with so many passionate, dedicated people was incredibly inspiring. Even as the mood became more somber in the wake of the attacks in Paris and Beirut, there was still a strong sense of community among participants, and one could feel an even more palpable determination to fight for peace and social justice.”

Trek Visits Geneva’s International Organizations

Photo Courtesy: Katherine Hoselton
Photo Courtesy: Katherine Hoselton

BY CHRISTINA CONNELLY

BOLOGNA, Italy — On a recent career trek, 21 SAIS Europe students traveled from Bologna to the international city of Geneva, Switzerland for two days of meetings with various international organizations.

This trip was an opportunity for SAIS students to learn more about the many multilateral and nongovernmental institutions located in Geneva, explore internship opportunities and gain valuable insight from SAIS alumni working in Geneva.

For two days, students waded through the alphabet soup of organizations in Europe’s diplomatic hub, specifically the WTO, UNHCR, OHCHR, IOM, ITC, The GAVI Alliance, and the International Environment house, which hosts UNEP, ICSTD, IISD, and the WFP.

The diversity of organizations visited exemplifies the diverse interests of SAIS students and the different fields those students enter after graduation. The World Trade Organization was one of many trade organizations visited and students were advised by the SAIS alumni conducting the meeting that those with a background in law or an interest and specialization in economics may be in a good position to apply for an internship.

Students also had the opportunity to visit many humanitarian organizations, including a handful of United Nations agencies. A meeting with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) involved a discussion between students and IOM staff on issues of migration, a topic of interest to so many international relations students, especially those currently enrolled in Professor Jessen-Petersen’s Migration and Security course at SAIS Europe.

The SAIS students on the trip were fortunate enough to be hosted by families, thanks to SAIS alumni in the area. The trip culminated with a cocktail party at one of the alum’s homes in France. The guest speaker of the night was a professor from the Graduate Institute of Geneva, who discussed migration, and gave another opportunity for students to show their knowledge of and passion for the subject.

A hub of global finance and multilateral organizations, Geneva is perfect for those who want to work and live in an international environment among a vibrant expatriate community. Having a working proficiency of French is useful if you wish to work for one of the organizations located in the city, but knowledge of one of the other United Nations’ official languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, Russian, Spanish) is beneficial as well. Speaking to students assembled for the trip, SAIS alumni pressed students to focus on their studies while at SAIS but also to follow their interests. Students interested in internships at any of the organizations are encouraged to visit their websites to learn about the deadlines as well as to tailor their CV’s to each type of internship they apply for.

MENA Happy Hour: Friday, November 13th, 2015

BY LENA ABDIN, KIMYA ZAHEDI, AND ELIZABETH PARKER-MAGYAR

WASHINGTON On Friday, November 13th, the SAIS MENA club will be hosting its happy hour, with partial proceeds going to the Amal Fund, an initiative that supports refugee youth leaders in Jordan, both in Za’atari refugee camp and in urban areas. Attendees can expect Middle Eastern food from Iran, Syria and Egypt, as well as Middle Eastern music, auction items, and artwork by Syrian artists living in the Za’atari camp.

As the Syrian refugee crisis becomes more and more protracted, Amal, which means hope in Arabic, provides tuition support for refugee leaders, most of whom have had their educations interrupted, to attend Jordanian universities, meeting the needs of Syrian students who pass high school examinations in Jordan but pay out-of-country fees at Jordanian universities. In addition to helping Syrian youth access tertiary educations, the fund also empowers them to participate in civic engagement through a program of cultural exchange with their scholarship sponsor(s), promoting mutual exchange between both communities.

Ismail, 29, one of the beneficiaries the Fund will target. Photo courtesy of the Syrian Youth Committee.
Ismail, 29, one of the beneficiaries the Fund will target. Photo courtesy of the Syrian Youth Committee.

One of the reasons MENA club chose the Amal Fund as a beneficiary of its happy hour is its targeted funding: $19,000 covers a full, four-year scholarship for a bachelor’s degree at a Jordanian university, including tuition and registration, books, transportation, and a living stipend. The fund targets Syrian youth leaders with superior academic records and demonstrated commitment to community engagement, like the leaders in the Syrian Youth Committee, a grassroots group that formed in Zaatari Camp, which hosts approximately 60,000 of the Syrian refugees in Jordan. Led and composed by youth, this committee has spearheaded the push within the camp to increase youth access to higher education. The Fund targets members of this committee, and other youth leaders like them, who serve as models and leaders of Syrian youth community engagement. The Fund seeks partners to provide funding for these refugee youth leaders to continue their education.

At the happy hour, MENA club will be selling artwork made by Syrian artists in Za’atari Camp, created in programming led by International Relief and Development. Proceeds from that artwork sale will go directly from the Club to the artists themselves, helping them to meet their basic needs.

Jordan is home to 700,000 of the 4 million Syrian refugees — there is a chasmic need for relief funding. Through fundraising efforts by MENA such the November 13th art sale and happy hour, one of the hundreds of organizations doing valuable work in the Syrian crisis can receive valuable support from the SAIS community. The purchase of a new keepsake can be meaningful in multiple ways.

Common interests, diverse experiences

BY LEOWIL VILLANUEVA

Certificate student Matt Geraci (center) enjoys a tea ceremony with professors and classmates at Middlebury’s Mandarin summer immersion program in Vermont.
Certificate student Matt Geraci (center) enjoys a tea ceremony with professors and classmates at Middlebury’s Mandarin summer immersion program in Vermont.

Classes are back in session in China’s Southern Capital, and that means a new cohort of international students and returning MA students from as close as South Korea,  all across the U.S. and even Central America and the Caribbean are bustling around the HNC’s Samuel Pollard building. With this diversity of backgrounds comes a variety of experiences. Before coming to the Center, some students travelled, others interned or conducted research, and yet others enrolled in intensive-immersion summer language programs to prepare for the challenge of graduate school in a foreign language.

Returning MAIS student Emily Shea (University of Washington, BA 2014) interned with a large California wine company, studying for a certification as a wine specialist and translating for the website into Chinese. “Now that I have a foundational understanding of the wine industry, I am excited to be back at the HNC and apply this knowledge to my thesis research on China’s growing wine consumption,” says Shea. After a summer touring vineyards and production facilities in Napa Valley, Ms. Shea looks forward to serving as her company’s interpreter in China and sharing her wine expertise with classmates.

Panamanian-American Certificate student Dereck Lammers (University of Arizona, BA 2014), on the other hand, comes to Nanjing after working and studying in Taiwan in preparation for the HNC. Seeking a break before starting the semester, however, Lammers took a short vacation to Laos and Thailand. Always looking for new experiences, he decided to spend part of his vacation volunteering at an elephant sanctuary in Luang Prabang where he fed, bathed, and walked the rescued victims of mining slave labor. Reflecting on his time with the elephants, Lammers said, “Being with these animals and the people that care for them helped me appreciate the work that these people do to protect creatures that don’t have a voice.” Lammers also enjoyed the hospitable and relaxed local culture compared to the competitive, fast-paced urban lifestyle of the United States.

Concentrating in both International Politics and Chinese Studies, second-year MAIS student Lev Nachman (University of Puget Sound, BA 2014) conducted thesis research in Taiwan, interviewing a total of 30 Taiwanese political activists in their twenties, recording hours’ worth of material. Inviting interviewees using café posters, social media, word of mouth, and by picketing on the streets, Nachman was able to complete primary research for his thesis. “This new social/political movement has only been around for the past few years, but due to their younger age, they have been largely dismissed by political commentators and experts,” says Nachman. His Taiwanese-accented Mandarin, extended network in Taipei and guidance from his thesis adviser at the HNC facilitated the process of finding interviewees.

A proud Colorado native, Certificate student Susan Wang (University of Colorado – Boulder, BA 2011) comes to the HNC after teaching Mandarin in a Colorado public high school. Ms. Wang is coming to China to challenge herself and better understand the modern nation state whose language she has been teaching in the U.S. “I want more students to come to China and institutions like the HNC not only for the sake of Sino-U.S. relations, but to benefit their own future career path. I hope that by coming here and learning and becoming vulnerable again that my students and others like them will believe in themselves and take the plunge to study in China and learn more about the world and themselves in the process,” says Wang. After the HNC, Wang plans to bring her experience in China back with her to the classroom and will enroll in the master’s in translation program at the Monterrey Institute of International Studies in California.

Determined to succeed at the HNC, Certificate student Matt Geraci (Bucknell University, BA 2015) enrolled in Middlebury College’s intensive summer program in Vermont. Famous for its language pledge that punishes the use of a non-target language during the 8-week program, the curriculum focuses on creating a full-immersion environment. “Since I wanted to be prepared for the HNC, my classes focused on learning how to read newspapers and understand the news,” says Geraci. After forty days of four hour classes, weekly tests and essays as well as cultural extracurricular activities like calligraphy, mah jong, and kungfu all conducted in Mandarin, Geraci feels confident he will excel at the Center.

While international students converge at the Center due to their shared interest in China, the wide variety of backgrounds and experiences of this year’s HNC cohort has brought new perspectives, ideas, and enthusiasm to the Center’s halls and testifies to their diverse personalities, talents, and goals. The Center is excited to see how they will grow and learn in the coming year and where their careers will take them next.

What Did You Do This Summer?

We asked a couple of our classmates what they did this summer to see where everyone is coming from and where they hope to go during their time at SAIS:

Shereen Shafi:

This summer I studied Urdu for two months in Lucknow, India through the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program funded by the U.S. Department of State. In addition to exploring the city of Lucknow and seeing the Taj Mahal and other historic sites on a CLS-organized trip to Agra, my friends and I were able to spend weekends in New Delhi, Mumbai, and Dehradun while traveling independently. Most importantly, thanks to our excellent classroom instruction and the benefits of an Urdu/Hindi-immersive environment, my Urdu speaking abilities and vocabulary expanded significantly; upon returning, I passed my proficiency exam at SAIS. I would highly recommend the CLS program to any SAIS student studying a foreign language.

Yael Mizrahi:

Yael spent 6 weeks volunteering with a Kurdish NGO, based out of Erbil, Iraq, advising on the current Iraqi IDP crisis, and influx of Syrian refugees. There she also conducted research for the KRG on the future of the Disputed territories of Northern Iraq.

Christopher Dunnett (Bologna)

1496384_10155865322480192_7824254043208682046_o

I’ve lived in Ukraine for the past two years, first as a Fulbright ETA in the city of Dnipropetrovsk, and later in writing and journalism in Kiev. My Fulbright began just before the start of the political upheaval and lasted throughout much of the early stages of the crisis. Following my Fulbright, I began working as a writer and assistant editor for the country’s main international press center, as well as a writer and producer for an English-language news show associated with a prominent independent Ukrainian media outlet. Later, I also assisted the communications team for Ukraine’s Presidential Administration. I continued to live and work in Kyiv until this August, when I moved to Bologna.  

Ben Kupferberg

This past summer, I interned for the venture capital firm Genesis Partners in Tel Aviv, Israel. I split time between the actual VC office and the accelerator that they own and operate. At the accelerator, where I spent a majority of time, I worked with 4 Israeli startups selected from over 600 companies, to provide American market research and go-to-market strategies. At the VC office I was exposed to investment horizon models for potential investments. Additionally, I travelled extensively both in the North and South of Israel.

Rose Fishman (Bologna)

This summer I was in a small town in Northwestern Ethiopia closing out my two years of service as a Peace Corps volunteer. I sloshed around in my rain boots (summer = rainy season = lots of mud) saying goodbye to friends and pseudo families, finishing up programs at my host school, and packing up my little mud hut.

SAIS students explore China on study tour

BY RUI ZHONG

Seventeen students from various disciplines across SAIS conducted a study tour of three Chinese cities from August 15-29th. The group was led by China Studies faculty and was supported by the Hong Kong based C.H. Tung Foundation.

In a presentation given to the China Studies Department on September 28th, students both summarized their itinerary and described current economic, security and political trends they observed while on their study trip. In Beijing, the students examined political organizations within the Chinese Communist Party, met with students in a joint program of Tsinghua University and SAIS, and toured facilities such as the Ministry of Finance. Their itinerary in Chongqing, the most populous city in China and an industrial center, included factory tours as well as visits to historical and cultural sites. The final leg of the tour, Shanghai, included tours of the American Chamber of Commerce, the telecommunications firm Huawei, the Shanghai Stock Exchange Floor and the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. The two-week trip also encompassed short trips to other key economic and political sights and visits to officials in security, economics, politics and academia.

The group of students on the China Studies tour included first-time visitors to China and students who had lived in or visited China prior to the trip. In presentations, a few topics discussed by students included the volatile changes in store for China’s real estate markets, its maritime security, and the possibilities of Chinese FDI in Africa. But with the variety of sights, experiences and lessons, there seemed to be something for all the participants of the China Studies Tour.

Working Out!

By ZHOU LIJUN

NANJING — No matter when you walk into the Hopkins-Nanjing Center gym, you will always see some students working out there. For most students, working out in the gym has become an important part of their life at the HNC. The ultimate goal for most students who work out in the gym is to keep fit and build up strength, though people have different ways of achieving their goals. Some prefer to work out alone, while others prefer to work out in groups with their friends. Some prefer strenuous exercise, while others prefer lighter workouts. There are also a number of workout groups with various workout plans.

The frequency of working out varies from person to person. Some students exercise every day while others go to the gym twice a week. When students exercise alone, they seem to be more efficient, and usually rest for a short time during each exercise session. However, when it comes to people who work out in groups of friends, they usually do each session in turns and rest for relatively long periods of time during each session. In addition, they spend more time communicating with their friends. Therefore, it may take them longer to finish their workout. Although they spend more time working out, they seem to enjoy the process and the workout seems to be more interesting.

The gym is not just for the conventional workout. There exist many interesting ways of keeping fit. Last year, the Zumba dance group held weekly dance lessons for students. This year, a Korean pop dance group took the place of the Zumba group. Members learn the moves through online videos and practice together. Some students may learn faster than others; those quick learners help the rest of the group to catch up. In this process, students not only learn new things, but also learn more about other students.

Although most people work out to stay healthy, there are some exceptions. One of my interviewees, who used to be a sprinter, said that the reason he works out is because it is a habit that he has kept for years. For some students, working out is also a method to keep an attractive body shape.

Some students also practice Taiji sword forms in the gym. Compared to traditional workouts such as weight lifting, push-ups and so forth, this kind of exercise requires more mental concentration. People need to calm themselves and clear their minds before they can practice it. The interesting thing is that there are few Chinese students who practice Chinese kung fu. Instead, it appears international students are more interested in it. For Chinese students, Chinese kung fu is something they have been exposed to since they were very young. Moreover, Chinese students may hold some stereotypes of Chinese kung fu and people who practice it. Usually, the elderly enjoy doing martial arts in parks during the morning hours. Students who choose to practice Chinese kung fu are highly likely to follow a lifestyle that follows some Chinese traditions and ancient Chinese philosophy.

Another interesting phenomenon is that people are likely to work out when their friends begin to work out. I started working out at the end of last semester, hoping to relax and keep fit. When my friends heard that I worked out regularly, they expressed interest in joining, and they started bringing their friends to the gym as well. The reason for this phenomenon may be that students are shy and worried about being embarrassed when going to work out in the gym. But if they have some friends who work out there, they may try it out. After that, they will find out there are few students who have professional workout skills, and they can join them even if they do not have previous workout experience. They may keep coming to the gym and working out regularly. In my group, one student has worked out for a long time and he coaches the rest of us. Sometimes we follow online videos for new exercises as well.

The gym is not only a place to work out and keep fit, but also a place to make friends and communicate with other students. It is not only a place to work hard, but also a place to have fun. There are also some students who seek other ways to build up their strength. However, working out in the gym makes up an important part of student life in the Center.