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Expanding My Network

photo of Maxwell

Maxwell Wappel
Hopkins-Nanjing Center Certificate in Chinese and American Studies + Johns Hopkins SAIS Master of Arts in International Affairs '22

Q: What encouraged you to apply to Johns Hopkins SAIS? 
A: My first time ever leaving the United States was to study abroad for a semester at Nanjing University, where I encountered the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. Once I learned about Johns Hopkins SAIS, it was clear to me that this was the place to be if I wanted to learn more about our changing global political landscape and contribute to managing those changes. 
Q: What was one of your favorite parts about studying at the HNC?
A: To be honest, the pressure. The HNC is a challenging environment and is forcing me to adapt and evolve, both in an academic sense and also in how I manage an intense workload. I also appreciate the humor that everyone in the program maintains about the obvious challenges we face. 
Q: Could you please tell us about how you obtained your internship at Taiwan NextGen Foundation and what your role entails? 
A: I am extremely grateful to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center’s Career Services team for putting me in contact with the TNF. I followed up on our conversation by meeting with the CEO of TNF, Kuan-Ting Chen, and discussing how I could contribute to the foundation. 
My work at TNF involves several different responsibilities — the highlights are going on field trips to trade shows and seminars to help spread the message of TNF, as well as meeting with legislators and lawyers working here in Taipei. My main responsibility though is conducting research into policies Taiwan is trying to implement, particularly the New Southbound Policy, Bilingual Taiwan 2030, and expansion of Taiwan’s soft power. I also help with our social media presence, writing analysis on day to day developments in the region. 
Q: Have the lessons you have learned in the classroom helped enhance your understanding of the work you are doing during your internship?
A: Definitely.  I feel that in many ways my internship is an additional “class” that I am involved in — and the fact that it addresses cross-strait relations so directly has really helped me gain insight on how a political equilibrium is maintained between China and Taiwan. Having access to high level academic and political discussions from both sides of the strait is an invaluable experience that I will carry with me in my future career.
Q: What do you hope to do with your degree after you graduate? 
A: I am excited that so many options will be available to me post graduation. While I don’t know exactly what I will do, I hope to continue being able to engage in the ground level execution of policy in the West Pacific. I am particularly interested in working in a diplomatic capacity. 

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