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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Returning to China: Drew Kunard as CET Beijing Resident Director 


Since graduating from the Chinese language Language Flagship Program in 2016, Drew Kunard has served examine overseas college students and language packages abroad and within the U.S. by numerous roles. A few of these packages embody CET’s Excessive College Pre-School Program in Beijing (HSPC), Hamilton’s Related Schools in China (ACC), and Indiana College’s Mission GO Abroad Program in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Beforehand our Assistant Director at MiC Hangzhou, Drew is now our CET Beijing Resident Director and shares insights on work and returning to the town. 

Man smiling in front of sunset

An image of Drew standing in entrance of the sundown in Beijing’s Olympic Park close to the Fowl’s Nest Stadium

Returning to China has been a whirlwind of recent and acquainted experiences. Inside the first few weeks, I noticed stunning sunrises and sunsets, handled myself to genuine delicacies, and reunited with outdated colleagues, pricey mates, and mentors. Then again, I’ve met many new individuals together with college students from numerous backgrounds. I additionally needed to relearn how one can navigate public transport and how one can order takeout and packages. 

Upon my return, the most important distinction I’ve skilled is the elevated reliance on know-how. Once I left, I used to be used to utilizing Alipay each day, however now I really feel fully misplaced with out my telephone. All the things from calling a cab, ordering takeout, coming into campus, or selecting up mail requires connecting my native telephone quantity and passport ID with my WeChat or Alipay account. So long as know-how works like it’s purported to, most days in Beijing are a breeze, however I can’t assist worrying about what’s going to occur ought to my telephone battery die after I have to name a cab to get again house at evening. 

Because the RD at CET Beijing, I handle all scholar life facets of the CET Beijing program together with this system design, creating relationships with native companions and distributors, and scholar advising and help. I might say that the coed expertise is way the identical because it was earlier than the pandemic. Except for indicators in public areas recommending sporting masks, many variations lie behind the scenes of our program, largely in our group’s discussions with our host college.  

For instance, one among my first discussions with our host college contacts concerned us asking how finest to acquire Covid exams and what would occur ought to anybody in our program check constructive. I used to be relieved to listen to that our host college doesn’t require isolation ought to anybody on campus check constructive, however they provide housing lodging in one other dorm on campus ought to anybody want to self-isolate till they really feel higher. Being proactive by having conversations about scholar well being and security has been basic with the return of this program. 

Smiling group photo in auditorium

Drew standing with (from left to proper) a scholar from our summer season time period Max Ansonoff, CET’s Beijing Director Zhu Li, CET’s Beijing Workplace Supervisor Liu Xiaomei, and Brian Linden after Brian’s visitor lecture at our host college.

My interactions with colleagues, mentors, and mates as I reconnect with everybody this summer season have been the excessive factors for me up to now. I all the time be taught a lot from our admin group, lecturers, and college students every time period. Attending to know our college students and serving to them acclimate to life in China has been pleasing. Typically, my relationships with our group and friendships outdoors of labor made me ecstatic to return and dwell in Beijing. 

A spotlight from this time period was our touring seminar to Chengdu. We visited a area people of artists, interviewed archeology specialists, and spoke with professionals at a panda analysis group. We additionally tasted some distinctive Sichuan dishes, together with Haidilao hotpot! All of this was due to our educational director and a collaboration with Southwest Jiaotong College, the place college students received to expertise completely different facets of Chinese language tradition. 

Group looking and listening to a woman

College students talking with the Director of Chengdu’s Yulin Group throughout our Journey Seminar to Chengdu

As this system wraps up and we begin getting ready for the autumn semester, I’m excited to proceed constructing extra sources and discovering extra instruments for our college students, corresponding to bringing again the native roommate program. Native roommates are college students we choose from our host college, Capital Regular College, who assist convey language follow into college students’ life at their dorm and across the metropolis.  

Our first semester has concerned lots of reacclimating and relearning for me. As I get settled and extra acquainted with my environment right here in Beijing, I need to higher help college students by connecting with their pursuits and passions whereas learning overseas in China. So, what does this seem like? I discovered a yoga studio close to campus and began taking courses. I’m additionally exploring native eating places, bookstores, and occasional outlets, hoping to find snug spots for college kids to review off-campus. And I’m all the time searching for fascinating cultural websites that our group can flip into an tour or a scavenger hunt for future cohorts! 


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