Hello China Summer 2019 Students & Families!
Welcome to the Yak Board! Going forward, this will be our main forum for sharing information about preparing for the summer, a place for instructors and students to introduce themselves, a place to post questions about the program, and, after the program begins, a place for students and instructors to share updates, reflections and images. Please keep in mind that this is a forum for messages for all students and families to read and that it is accessible to all via our web site.
Along with my colleagues in our Admissions Department, I’ve spoken with some of you on the phone and corresponded with others via email. As China Program Director, I spend most of my time in the US, with occasional trips to China to connect and collaborate with our staff and community there. I’ll be working closely with our Kunming-based China Program Coordinator, Annie Jiao (焦娜), and your instructors to help all of our students get the most they can out of their time in China.
I first visited China in 1996, during my junior year at Oberlin College. The people I met and the places I visited in Yunnan Province had a major impact on my understanding of the world and of my home. After graduating with a degree in East Asian Studies, I returned to China to live and work for many years. Living in China allowed me to have a variety of jobs that I’m not sure I would have had the chance to do anywhere else, from being a guide on a Three Gorges cruise ship, to singing in several bands, working as an advertising designer, and as the host of a television show called “Chongqing Today” (今日重庆). Eventually, I decided I wanted to pursue academic research in Chongqing, the city that had become my home in China. As a doctoral student in Anthropology at Stanford University, I collected hundreds of personal stories from people in Chongqing who made a living on the street (from porters and food vendors to healers and fortune tellers.) Before starting my work with Dragons in 2014, I spent two years in Xi’an, running a program for American university students with a Silk Road focus. In 2013, I married a woman from Chongqing and now I’m connected to China through my family as well. What’s the point of sharing this condensed autobiography with you? My first visit to China, and the total of about 11 years I’ve spent there subsequently, shaped my life in ways I could never have predicted. Who knows what’s in store for you?
Soon, your instructors will also introduce themselves on this board and invite you to do the same. Your instructor team brings enormous passion for education, travel, and the people and communities you’ll soon be getting to know in China, and a wealth of life experiences in China and around the world to draw upon – I hope you’re looking forward to meeting them, and I know they are looking forward to getting to know you. Thanks so much for joining us, and get ready for an unforgettable summer!
p.s. The photo is of me and a very kind grandmother whose home I stayed at during a scouting trip deep in the bamboo forests of northwestern Guizhou in 2014.