One aspect of studying through Alliance (the program that Rollins is working through in Shanghai) that I have truly come to appreciate and enjoy is the existence of Alliance-coordinated lectures, activities and extracurricular activities. Sometimes we get caught up in big weekend trips and forget to take in the small experiences. (I say this about myself just as much as I do about some others, by the way.) In Shanghai, these include Chinese dumpling nights, mahjong game nights, site visits in the city, intellectual lectures by brilliant speakers, calligraphy classes, weekly lunches and cultural performances. Oftenttimes there is both an English-language event and a Chinese-language event so we can continue to practice Chinese. I have attended a good number of them, and am surprised to find that most of my fellow students do not attend; though it is true some of them occur during certain class times. They are fun and unique opportunities to learn Chinese culture, hear from brilliant intellectuals, practice my Chinese and get to know other students and staff.

For me, these small events oftentimes provide rare chances to learn and dicuss topics that are not relevant to my major. The biggest example of this would be a lecture on “Doing Business in China” by Dr. Nathan Wang, a renowned entrepreneur who has held multiple high-level positions in major international companies such as

Dr. Nathan Wang's Business Lecture
Dr. Nathan Wang’s Business Lecture

Motorola and is regarded by many as the “Father of the Smart Phone.” For a few reasons, I have no plans of taking any business courses during my time at Rollins, so I learned quite a lot from his discussion. We were able to ask him questions and hear his opinions as well as express our own. He himself was a pleasure to listen and talk to; he was very informal with us and used comical examples to help us relate to the topic. I was a little concerned that he would be using a lot of business terminology that, quite frankly, I do not (but probably should) have a basic understanding of. But I could understand all of his points and his PowerPoint was both clear yet also  entertaining. Can anyone tell me how Alliance chooses and gets these great intellectual minds to come visit a few undergrad students? I’m certainly grateful for it.

In a few minutes I’ll be headed to a discussion on “How to Index a Dumpling,” which will be led by an experienced food writer and chef. When I was little I absolutely loved to watch Food Network (anyone else with me?), so this will probably bring a hint of nostalgia for me. In early December everyone in Alliance Shanghai will be putting on a small performance, which our classes work together and plan for. I look forward to all the ideas that the many colorful individuals of our program will come up with. I know my class will be performing a parody and I’m excited to be a part of it!

Chinese vocabulary:

(讲演)   jiang3yan3   to give a talk/lecture/speech

(话题)   huàtí    subject/topic of a talk or conversation

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