Yale (English) Fellows: Testimonials

"Other than the 24 months following my birth, during which I learned how to speak and go to the bathroom on my own, my stay in China was the most important two years of my life.

"The experiences I had during that time—some wonderful, some awful; the challenges, the stretches of boredom and frustration, the unforgettable generosity of some people; the joys and disappointments of teaching; the shifts in perspective that come … and the deep satisfaction of knowing that you must draw on your best resources to make the most of your time there—all of these things have affected me in ways that continually surprise and encourage me. It was no picnic, but it was a hell of a worthwhile adventure."
—Mark Salzman, (Hunan Medical University, 1982-1984), bestselling author.

"For many Chinese students, having a Yale-China teacher is their one 'study abroad' experience."
—Seiji Shirane, (Sun Yat-sen University, 2004-2006), Blakemore Fellow, Tsinghua University, Beijing.

"Will our personalities and personal histories have a lasting effect on [our students]? When I talk to them about a modernistic skyscraper or an opulent ancient palace, I am not simply speaking about architecture as a discipline. I hope that they can hear me speak about a subject that I truly love, and I hope that they hear the subtext: I am also telling them that they should seek out passion in their own academic lives....I am urging them to understand that anything is possible in their futures, that they can mold their lives into any shape that they desire."
—Ming Thompson, (Yali Middle School, 2004-2006), Architect, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

"It [the Yale-China fellowship] was one of those experiences that if anybody had ever told me in great detail what life would be like, I would have said, 'I can’t do that.' But I...learned a great lesson about myself, which was that I could do a whole lot more than I had ever thought I could."
—Martha Finn Brooks, (Hunan Medical University, 1981-1983), corporate director

"If I hadn't done Yale-China, I wouldn't be in Hong Kong today, doing what I do. The exposure I had to China and the language skills I developed there have been invaluable in my career."
—Peter Stein, (Wuhan University, 1986-1988), Head of Group, Governmental Affairs, Asia Pacific, UBS.

"The challenge of communicating/connecting across a significant cultural divide—in the classroom and out—has made me a more careful clinician, researcher and friend. I don’t assume that I get where someone is coming from until I've done some careful work first. I attribute this caution to my efforts to cross the culture gap between me and my students and friends in Hong Kong."
—Clark McKown, (New Asia College, 1990-1992), Executive Director, Rush NeuroBehavioral Center

"Teaching at Yali Middle School in Yuanling during WWII and for one semester in Changsha when the school returned in 1946 has had a far-reaching effect on my life. After my experience in China, I changed my field in graduate studies to anthropology, while serving as Executive Secretary of Yale-in-China in New Haven. The perspective that I gained from living in a society and culture quite different from my own gave me insight as an anthropologist that I would not otherwise have had."
—J. Kenneth Morland, (Yali Middle School, 1944-1946), Retired Professor of Social Anthropology.

"Ultimately, I believe my experience teaching in China directed me toward medicine for three reasons: 1) it reminded me how important my own cultural heritage is, and encouraged me to "return to my roots" in Mississippi, where physicians are greatly needed, 2) it encouraged me to settle upon a career that in some way has a teaching component, and 3) it encouraged me to seek a career that would allow me to return to China from time to time, with skills and training that will be as useful as being a native English speaker. On a personal level, my experience teaching in China informs me everyday, yet I still find myself at a loss for words when asked 'How was China?'"
—Carolyn Greene, (Hunan Medical University, 1990-1992), Epidemic Intelligence Officer for the U.S. Center for Disease Control.

"Yale-China gave me an international perspective, which I have retained ever since. I traveled to India as a medical student, worked in a smallpox hospital after graduation from medical school and spent 3 months in cholera research in Calcutta while training. My research on adult immunization stressed national policy, and in the 1980s began to involve me in some work in Canada, the UK, later Western Europe and now countries in Asia and Latin America. I have developed close contacts with the staff of the Expanded Programme of Immunization at the World Health Organization and continue to urge them to develop initiatives in adult immunization in developing countries. My research continues to emphasize international comparisons of vaccine use and policy."
—David Fedson, (New Asia College, 1959-1961), Aventis Pasteur MSD, Director of Medical Affairs for Europe.

"Whew! Without going into great detail, it’s completely changed my scholarly interests, and now I am addicted both to teaching and studying about China. I have much more to talk about at cocktail parties. I also saw a side of China which is invisible to travelers and academics—the gritty reality of life in Changsha in all its hopes and despairs. Watching the seasons change, seeing the children on campus grow up, I felt that I was a part of that life—a resident of Yali Middle School and a member of Changsha’s population—hardly an outside observer. The attachment I felt was so strong that even now, two years later, I long to go back with a feeling that can only be described as homesickness."
—Steve Platt, (Yali Middle School, 1993-1996), Professor of Chinese History at University of Massachusetts Amherst.

"My participation in the Yale-China [teaching fellowship] was unquestionably the most pivotal experience in my career and arguably the most impactful experience in my adult life. The challenges thrown at me in Changsha helped me discover both my strengths and weak points and bred in me a passion that drives me to this day. I joined [Yale-China] as a blithering idealist with an undefined urge to do good; I left Changsha as a realist, still idealistic but better equipped with the tools to make a contribution. Everything I’ve done since then has built on those skills and focused very clearly on China. That’s a direction I hope to maintain for the rest of my career."
—Drew Nuland, (Hunan Medical University, 1986-1988), Managing Director, Noribachi Group.

"The experience has had just as big an impact on my professional life. Some of this is concrete, or linear: For a decade after I left Changsha my work involved China in one way or another. As tour guide, banker, importer, teacher and lawyer/diplomat, I worked with Greater China, Chinese immigrants, and Americans interested in China. I believe that my experience in Changsha, with its intense, grassroots (relative to the Beijing/Nanjing/Shanghai/Guangzhou experiences of most U.S.-China hands, anyway) involvement with Chinese people and the PRC system, prepared me well to play in these arenas, principally because I learned to solve problems pragmatically. Much more important to me, however, was the combination of self-confidence and humility that my China experience taught. Having lived, indeed thrived, for two years in my way around an opaque system of central directives filtered through illiterate, often venal peasant-bureaucrats, I am seldom surprised by the seemingly bizarre, or obviously selfish, behavior one encounters in U.S. institutions—nor do I doubt my ability to work around or through it, if I apply myself. On the other hand, having seen brilliant Chinese students and friends buffeted by political and social forces far beyond their control, I recognize how much I owe to circumstances or luck. I think my Changsha experience made me more tenacious, wiser about the variety of human motivations, and more willing to walk around, question, and act on my own analysis. These traits have, I believe, served me well in my various professional roles."
—David Jones Jr.,(Hunan Medical University, 1980-1982), Chairman and Managing Director, Chrysalis Ventures, Inc.

"Teaching at Hu-Yi was an excellent transition between my college life/reality of Asian Studies with my future—medicine. In China I became interested in the political/international aspects of medicine as manifest in public health, reproductive health, abortion rights and abuses. I had always known I was interested in medicine, but my time with Yale-China in Changsha and Wuhan broadened my interests to international public health and women’s health and moved me in those directions…."
—Audrey Garrett, (Hubei Medical University, 1987-1989), Gynecologic Oncologist.

"Two greatest years of my life—made me aware of other countries, peoples—their problems and needs. Traveled Trans Siberian Railway in 1936—all around China and Far East. My later business life included travel everywhere except Africa. Participation in teaching program was instructive, fun, and created friendship."
—Sidney Sweet Jr.,(Yali Middle School, 1936-1938), Retired President, C. Tennant, Sons & Co. of New York.

"My Yale-China experience has profoundly affected my life. After leaving China I spent 2 years in graduate school studying China and later spent three years in Los Angeles working with refugees from Asia. I entered law school to become involved in public interest work affecting immigrants in the U.S. who I’ve believed for many years are unfairly blamed for our current social/economic ills. I specifically chose to become a public defender to address the lack of legal representation received by immigrants (documented or otherwise) in California. I initially worked in Monterey Park, CA for the L.A. Public Defenders Office, the large Chinese community east of L.A., where I represented Chinese and Vietnamese defendants. I now work in San Diego, representing primarily Latino, African-American, and Vietnamese clients. My Yale-China experience truly sensitized me to the needs and aspirations of cultures other than my own. It put a "face" on what previously had been just an academic exercise (no fault of Yale's!)."
—Joe Pertel, (Hunan Medical University, 1985-1987), Public Defender in Los Angeles.

"It has had enormous impact, in every direction. In Hong Kong I became fascinated with the rule of law and rights, both as a way to understand the challenges inherent in the colony’s transition to Chinese rule, and as a way to explain American society to my students. I ultimately won a fellowship to study rights in Hong Kong, and through that experience became familiar with the plight of Vietnamese boat people there. That led me to become the main researcher on Vietnam and Cambodia for Human Rights Watch, a position that has brought me to Asia many times since. Asia is an intellectual touchstone for me when I consider the role of law in society, the universality of rights, the interplay between civil and political freedoms and economic development. I have been fortunate in making life-long friends in Hong Kong through Yale-China, and elsewhere in Asia through my work in the region."
—Dinah PoKempner, (New Asia College, 1981-1983), General Counsel, Human Rights Watch.

"I am a much richer person. My most important professional experience to date was producing and directing an hour-long documentary on the Chinese economy for the Wall Street Journal television series "Emerging Powers" which aired on PBS…. I was considered for the job in large part because of the time I spent in China—so quite literally, participation in the Yale-China program helped me land the most important job of my career."
—Mary Ann Rotondi, (Wuhan University, 1983-1985), Producer, Dateline NBC.

"My entire career, through many diverse jobs, has been China/Asia related. Unquestionably the single most important impact on my personal and professional life. Fair to say that everything since Hong Kong has been a trajectory from the Yale-China experience."
—Doug Murray, (New Asia College, 1958-1960), President Emeritus, Lingnan Foundation.

"The linguistic foundation and cultural understanding I acquired through the Yale Bachelor program were the core advantages I brought to my years as an operations officer for the World Bank, working to develop programs in cooperation with Chinese officials that addressed key issues of rural poverty and environmental degradation."
—Thomas B. Weins, (New Asia College, 1964-1966), Former Principal Agricultural Specialist, World Bank.


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