Alexander Jenkins, Capstone 2016-2017


My name is Alex Jenkins or 姜翱烈, over the past ten months I’ve had the invaluable opportunity to live and study in Beijing, China as part of the Chinese Flagship Program’s Capstone Year at Beijing Union University (BUU). Since the beginning of my time in Beijing, I’ve had a multitude of life changing experiences. I’ve met countless new Chinese and international friends through school and extracurricular activities, and most importantly my language ability has undoubtedly improved, but that’s the just the beginning of how Beijing has changed my life.


In the fall semester, Flagship students had an opportunity to register in what is called a “direct enrollment class,” meaning we would be placed in an undergraduate course that is related to our selected field of study with fellow BUU Chinese classmates. My other major is Chemical Engineering, so I was hoping to find a chemistry or biology related course. Luckily for me, I had the opportunity and extraordinary challenge to enroll in BUU’s biochemistry lecture. I was the only non-Chinese student in the class, and by the end of the semester I had 5 friends with whom I still maintain contact.


Aside from the academics of BUU, there are many elements of life as a BUU student that I enjoy. This past fall, BUU held their 15thSports Competition. I ran an 800-meter race in front of the entire student body and faculty and finished in 4thplace.


BUU has also provided ample cultural and travel opportunities for its international students. Last fall, we visited the Badaling(八达岭)portion of the Great Wall, and this spring we visited Datong (大同) a developing third tier city in the northern tip of the Shanxi province. While in Datong, we visited the gorgeous Yungang Grottoes (云冈石窟), and hiked one of China’s five major mountains, Heng Mountain (恒山).

The best decision I made in Beijing was joining the local Beijing Ultimate Frisbee team, “Big Brother” (大哥飞盘). Since joining the team in late August, I’ve met countless expats and Chinese nationals who I consider to be lifelong friends. I’ve traveled to Tianjin, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Nanjing, and even Beijing’s outer sixth ring to play Frisbee against other Chinese and East Asian teams. As of the time I’m writing this, Big Brother has won two of it’s last four tournaments and hope to finish with a tournament victory in Shanghai on June 3rdand 4th.

In the spring semester, all flagship students are required to work at a part time internship. I am currently working at technology startup called Beijing Aoruite Technology Co., Ltd. (北京奥睿特科技有限公司), located in the Qinghua Business Park Tusstar Startup incubator which is adjacent to the prestigious Qinghua University. My main responsibility is English to Chinese translation of various technical manuals and handbooks that the company looks to use as part of their business. It has been an rich experience where I’ve learned a great deal about working in a Chinese office environment, and I couldn’t be more grateful to my supervisor for her help and guidance along the way.

I’m forever thankful for my time in Beijing. Not only have I improved my Chinese language ability, but I’ve created life-long friendships and had rich cultural experiences. I couldn't be any happier with my time in Beijing as a part of Chinese Flagship Capstone year administered by American Councils. There is a community for everyone in this city, so come experience it for yourself!