Alumni Updates: Chinese

  • Adams, Christopher (Class of 2008) Christopher is currently completing a master's degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. He is writing a thesis on the popular press in Republican-era China.
  • Adventures in Beijing (by Brian Donahue) Aventures in Beijing (by Brian Donahue) I remember first looking out the airplane window as my flight began its descent into Beijing Capital International Airport. A smile was plastered on my face as I realized that, after six years of studying Chinese, I was finally in China. Despite the jubilation, anxiety took over as I realized for the next two months, my Chinese language abilities would be put to the ultimate test. The first week went by faster than I could imagine. Within two days, our program visited the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Lama Temple. On the third day, we officially started our intensive language classes, where we met three amazing laoshi who would serve not only as our teachers, but who would also become great friends. After finally getting into the groove of things, navigating China’s capital became a breeze. My friends and I spent much of our time just outside of Tsinghua’s campus in the infamous Wudaokou (五道口) neighborhood of Beijing. Given its proximity to many of China’s top universities, a large number of students, both domestic and international, live here. As a result, many restaurants in Wudaokou cater to the cosmopolitan audience. A favorite of ours was Pyro Pizza, an American-owned pizzeria that provided us with a sometimes-necessary taste of home. My favorite memory of Beijing came one night while exploring the city with my mom. My mom, fortunately, had a business trip to China at the same time I was there. After hearing much about Jingshan Park’s spectacular views of Beijing at sunset, I decided to save that excursion for when my mom was there. Because Jingshan doesn’t have a subway stop, my mom and I decided to be adventurous and walk from her hotel near Tiananmen Square to Jingshan Park, an approximately 2.2-mile walk. This excursion took us through some quieter streets of Beijing that ran parallel to the Forbidden City. The traditional hutong’s in this area were completely restored. It was here that I saw the magic of Beijing and could happily share it with my mom. When we finally reached Jingshan Park, the panoramic view of the city at the top was so stunning that not even photos could do it justice. My greatest thanks goes out to everyone who made this trip possible. It truly changed my perception of China and helped me to finally connect the language I had spent so long studying to the culture it belongs to. My greatest thanks goes to the three laoshi who helped improve my confidence in my Chinese tremendously and challenged me to improve my skills. I anxiously await the day I get to return to China and once again experience its allure. Beijing 2
  • Ammirati, Megan (Class of 2010) Megan graduated with majors in Chinese and English (High Honors).  She is currently working towards a Ph.D in Comparative Literature with a focus on modern Chinese drama at the University of California, Davis.
  • Chinese Program 2012 Alumni Feature by Emily Wilcox   The W&M 2012 graduating class boasted a stellar group of seniors in the Chinese Program. Three students received High Honors for senior honors thesis projects advised by Chinese Program faculty, and more than eighty-five percent studied abroad in China at least once as part of their undergraduate experience. Students double-majored in Chinese and a range of other fields, including Chemistry, Government, History, International Relations, Management, Marketing, and Mathematics. Now, six months after their graduation, graduates in the 2012 Chinese Program class are thriving in jobs, internships, and scholarships related to their Chinese studies. The following is a sampling of some of the exciting work these students are doing today. Support and skills gained at William and Mary played an important role in achieving these successes; for most, foreign language proficiency specifically was a key criteria in the application and selection process for the jobs and scholarships in which they are now involved. Congratulations to all of our talented 2012 graduates!   Kate McGinnis (W&M Chinese Major ‘12) Intern, National Committee on US-China Relations, New York I am currently interning at the National Committee on United States-China Relations, a non-profit that focuses on bettering the US-China relationship through exchanges and dialogue. In 1971 the National Committee hosted the historic Ping Pong exchange, kicking off the era of 'ping pong diplomacy'. Today, they continue to host the exchange of teachers, policy leaders, government leaders, and youth. It has been a wonderful opportunity for me to work with this organization. So far, I have worked with the development team on our annual Gala Dinner, held at the Plaza Hotel, which raised 1.4 million dollars for the National Committee. In the four weeks I worked on the fundraising campaign I personally raised $78 thousand. I helped compile a briefing book for Navy Officers in preparation for our three-day educational conference on contemporary China. I am so thankful to the W&M Chinese program for giving me a strong foundation in Chinese language and culture, which has allowed me to thrive at the National Committee. I often find myself recalling experiences from my W&M study abroad trip in Beijing when we meet Chinese delegations stopping in at our New York City office. Most importantly, I appreciate the fantastic faculty at W&M who encouraged my interest in all things Chinese.     Timothy McDade (W&M Chinese Major ‘12) IT Program Manager, Microsoft, Washington State I graduated from W&M in May 2012 with dual majors in Chinese Language & Literature and Applied Mathematics, and am now working at Microsoft in Redmond, WA. I'm in a leadership training rotational program within Microsoft's internal IT department, which allows me to experience the breadth of what a global company has to offer. My Chinese major has precipitated all of this – I got my job because of my language skills and travel experience. I plan to continue studying the language and culture in the future, and hope to spend a considerable amount of time working in Beijing and Shanghai. My mentors from the W&M Chinese department provided guidance and support during my job search. My international background and language skills have served me well so far, and will continue to ensure that I have a competitive edge as I move forward in the business world.     Lydia Fairfax (W&M Chinese Major ‘12) Marketing Specialist, Registrar Corp, Newport News After graduating from William and Mary, I was hired as a marketing specialist at Registrar Corp in Newport News. Registrar Corp assists companies in the Drug, Medical Device, Food and Beverage, and Cosmetics industries with U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulatory compliance. The firm is headquartered in Hampton, Virginia, and has assisted over 22,000 companies in more than 150 countries, with 19 regional offices in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East.

 This year, I was working at trade shows in Washington DC and Baltimore when I was unexpectedly approached by representatives from Chinese companies who did not speak English. Although I had to improvise on the spot, I was able to present our company’s services and explain their questions using the Chinese I learned at William and Mary! The background in Chinese language and culture that I gained in the W&M Chinese Program helps me to understand other cultures, which is extremely important in my job due to the international nature of our company and our work. I got my job because of my ability to speak multiple languages. With so many international clients and offices, language abilities are essential in our company.     Stephen Hurley (W&M Chinese Major ‘12) Boren Scholar, Beijing University, China I started studying Chinese as a freshman at William and Mary in the fall of 2008. I studied abroad at Peking University through the W&M program in my junior year, and I have since returned to Beijing on a Boren scholarship to continue my Chinese studies. Currently, I am taking a classics course with a philosophy professor from Beijing University -- this week we are covering the The Analects -- and otherwise I am studying Chinese all the time. Tomorrow I will attend a job fair to get some practice networking, and we have an activity on Friday with the Beijing Film Academy. On my way to class one day, I was browsing the posters outside the campus amphitheater when I was shocked to see an advertisement for The Red Detachment of Women, a revolutionary ballet from the 1960s that we had discussed in my Chinese popular culture class last year. Needless to say, I immediately bought a ticket, and am very excited to see the performance next week.
  • Congratulations to our Chinese Majors! MLL Graduation Ceremony (15 May 2016) Chinese Majors 2016 MLL Graduation Ceremony Picture 1: Marshall Richards, Isabel Perrin, Benjamin Neville, Jacob Keohane, Skyy Eshleman, Gille Cuda (Note: Five other seniors, including Max Lipkin, Charles Kelly, Rachel Johnson, Kathy Shi, and Lauren Leupold, also graduated. They could not attend the MLL graduation ceremony because of other commitments.) Chinese Majors and Faculty 2016 MLL Graduation Ceremony Picture 2: Chinese majors and faculty Chinese Faculty 2016 MLL Graduation Ceremony Picture 3: Calvin Hui, Yanfang Tang, Chun-yu Lu, Peng Yu, and Qian Su
  • Dienstman, Allie (Class of 2010) Allie is currently working with ESL students and based in the Philadelphia area.
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  • Donehey, John (Class of 2010) John spent the summer at the American Dance Festival at Duke University and performed as Tony in the mainstage production of West Side Story Suite while there. He is currently working as a free lance dancer in NYC and lives in Brooklyn.
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  • Kamensky, John (Class of 2009) John describes his travels and studies of the past year: "After completing a Chinese major at the College of William and Mary, including a summer and a semester studying abroad in Beijing, I was awarded the Chinese Government Scholarship. Through this scholarship, I was able to study Mandarin for two semesters at Sichuan University in Chengdu. Sichuan Province was very enjoyable -- the spicy cuisine there is famous across China, and I even picked up a few phrases in the Sichuanese dialect. I was even able to find some excellent coaches in Wushu (Kung Fu), China's national art. I am currently enrolled in the Language Flagship program for Chinese, which aims to create working professionals in a target language. I spent the past summer in Qingdao participating in language training for this program, using Chinese to study Sino-American relations as viewed by mainland Chinese. For the next year I will be continuing my study of Chinese at Ohio State University, and plan to go back to China in order to research the process of urbanization in China the following year." Here are links to a "slightly exaggerated" Chinese article about his experience learning martial arts and his profile in the Language Flagship program.
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  • Mawdsley, Devon (Class of 2009) Devon is finishing his master's in painting this coming spring at the University of Indiana. He plans to continue working in the art world, and hopes to teach painting.
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  • Post-socialism in Hong Kong: Zone Urbanism, Urban Horror, and Post-1997 Hong Kong Cinema

    Talk: Post-socialism in Hong Kong: Zone Urbanism, Urban Horror, and Post-1997 Hong Kong Cinema

    Speaker: Professor Erin Huang (Princeton University) Date/Time: 28 November 2018 (Wednesday), at 5:00-6:20 p.m.

    Venue: Washington Hall 219

    The film, directed by the Hong Kong director Fruit Chan (陈果), is called The Midnight After (那夜凌晨,我坐上了旺角開往大埔的紅VAN) (2014). Trailer (2 minutes):   Abstract: This talk examines the condition of Chinese “(post-)socialism” in Hong Kong—a city without “socialist” legacies—as a way of addressing the emergent history of radical deterritorialization and reterritorialization in the era of the “post.” Proposing “zone urbanism” as a critical lens—a phenomenon of zoning that renders space into a programmable and reproducible spatial software—the presentation traces Hong Kong’s infrastructural revolution since the early 1980s that intimately connects the city to special economic zones in mainland China. From the controversial construction of New Hong Kong Airport to expressways, tunnels, and bridges designed to enhance the speed of movement in South China’s economic circles, “(post-)socialist” Hong Kong is arguably transformed into Southeast Asia’s transport super city and logistics hub. While recent scholarships on Hong Kong highlight the Umbrella Revolution in 2014 as the city’s protest against its loss of political sovereignty, this presentation probes a longer history of zone urbanism and traces the emergent aesthetics of infrastructural phenomenology in post-handover Hong Kong cinema. Problematizing the relationship between “Hong Kong” as a planned abstract space of transit and as a corporeal space under tremendous pressure to accommodate its human population, post-1997 Hong Kong cinema suggests a number of ways for re-experiencing, re-sensing, and touching the city’s infrastructural space while producing a plethora of experiences on the widening spectrum of movement and displacement. While focusing on the zoning phenomenon in South China, the talk theorizes (post-)socialism as a universalizing condition with regional differences that is creating new centers and peripheries.   Bio: Erin Y. Huang is Assistant Professor in East Asian Studies and Comparative Literature at Princeton University. She is an interdisciplinary scholar and a comparatist working on modern China and Sinophone studies. Her research interests broadly include cinema & media studies, Marxist urban theory, gender & sexuality studies, comparative socialisms and post-socialisms, and phenomenology. She is completing her first book, Urban Horror: Global Post-socialism, Chinese Cinemas, and the Limits of Visibility, where she theorizes urban horror as Marxist phenomenology, and an emergent horizon of affects that rehearses the potentiality of future urban revolutions after the supposed end of revolutionary times.
  • Reed, Shannon (Class of 2009) Shannon has just begun her masters in the Regional Studies-East Asia Program at Harvard University. Her research focus will be modern Chinese literature, which she also worked on for her Honors thesis. "On a side note," she writes, "you and the other W&M professors may be intersted to know that 4 years of W&M Chinese is enough to help a student place out of Harvard's required language classes for the Master's!"
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  • Summer Study Abroad – Beijing, China (by Annecy Daggett) By Annecy Daggett When I found out I had been accepted into the William and Mary Summer in Beijing study abroad program, I was filled with pure excitement, but as the program neared, I developed many reservations about studying abroad. In the weeks leading up to my departure, I worried I wasn’t ready to live in a foreign country for seven weeks, especially a country as different from the United States as China. I questioned the decision to study abroad the summer after my freshman year, thinking maybe I should have waited until the next summer. But as soon as I arrived in Beijing, all these worries disappeared, and the excitement set in. Having traveled to China once before for a week, the new culture didn’t come as a complete shock, but this time I was fully immersed. I quickly became accustomed to ordering meals in Chinese and paying in yuan. Even without a language pledge, my American friends and I started speaking Chinese to each other outside of class because in China it just felt natural. One of my favorite experiences from the trip was visiting the Summer Palace with a few friends. After walking around the historic site and admiring the beautiful architecture, we found a place to sit, enjoy the scenery, and play a Chinese card game. We ended up surrounded by Chinese children and adults, watching us play and offering tips and advice for the next move. Even as outsiders, we were welcomed into their culture with enthusiasm. Not only were excursions to famous sites incredible but so were the daily experiences of living in a foreign country. Every day was an exciting new adventure. From ordering food in Chinese, to navigating the subways, to playing pickup ultimate Frisbee with students from around the world, every day was filled with new experiences and opportunities to practice Chinese. Nearing the end of my time in Beijing, I began to miss living in China before I even left. Returning to the United States, I missed hearing Chinese all around me. I missed ordering in Chinese and eating with chopsticks. After my study abroad experience in China, I wondered why I ever doubted that it was the right decision.   Beijing 1
  • Talk: East Asian Cinema’s Occidental Eye: Fair Ophelia and Sweet Hamlet
    Speaker: Alexa Alice Joubin (Professor of English, George Washington University)
     Talk: East Asian Cinema’s Occidental Eye: Fair Ophelia and Sweet Hamlet
    Date/Time: 22 October 2018 (Monday), 3:30 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
    Venue: Washington 317
    Abstract: East Asian cinema has given us fresh interpretations and visually stunning renditions of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Korean and Chinese Ophelias are no longer silent; they gain agency by being seen and heard through various strategies. Prince Hamlet is given Confucian virtues. This illustrated presentation explores Chinese cinematic adaptations of one of the most canonical and widely translated Western dramatic works.There has always been a perceived affinity between Ophelia and East Asian women. In May 1930, British writer Evelyn Waugh entertained the prospect of Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong playing Ophelia: "I should like to see Miss Wong playing Shakespeare. Why not a Chinese Ophelia? It seems to me that Miss Wong has exactly those attributes which one most requires of Shakespearean heroines." While East Asian Ophelias may suffer from what S. I. Hayakawa calls “the Ophelia syndrome” (inability to formulate and express one’s own thoughts), they adopt various rhetorical strategies—balancing between eloquence and silence—to let themselves be seen and heard. Chinese Ophelias seem to possess more moral agency.
    Speaker's Bio: Alexa Alice Joubin is Professor of English, East Asian Languages and Literatures, Theater, and International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington D.C. where she co-founded the Digital Humanities Institute. At MIT, she is co-founder and co-director of the open access Global Shakesperes digital performance archive. ( At Middlebury College, she holds the John M. Kirk, Jr. Chair in Medieval and Renaissance Literature in the Bread Loaf School of English. Her latest books include Race (in the Routledge New Critical Idiom series; co-authored with Martin Orkin); Local and Global Myths in Shakespeare Performance (co-edited); and Shakespeare and the Ethics of Appropriation (co-edited). Alexa will be a visiting professor at Yonsei University in South Korea later this year.
    * This event is sponsored by AMES and the Reves Center.

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