Photos from the CET 30th Anniversary Celebration in Beijing, China
Thank you for inviting me to your birthday party! I had a wonderful, sentimental, and inspiring time. The party started Friday evening at Capital M. With the Qianmen gate twinkling in the windows, CET alumni from all three decades caught up, reminisced, and delighted at the sight of classmates they hadn’t seen in years. Our first student, Ken Hammond, spoke about CET in 1982 and how much has changed since then. CCTV anchorwoman Tian Wei shared stories of being a CET roommate in the 1990s.
Festivities continued the next morning as Mark Lenhart led the group to the original CET campus at Baiduizi. Participants strolled along the dusty grounds, some of which have been completely transformed over the years and some of which remain remarkably the same. Mark brought the campus to life, relating how it had been a burial ground for commoners in the Qing Dynasty. When he was a student, construction crews sometimes found bones in the soil; he once saw children playing soccer with a human skull! Ken and Elvira Hammond spoke fondly of morning calisthenics in the courtyard and their very own wedding in the cafeteria.
Saturday afternoon took us back to Capital M for a nostalgic panel discussion of life at CET Beijing in the 1980s and 90s. Ken and Elvira Hammond, professors at New Mexico State University and our first students, told of roads blocked to foreigners and a punchy chef called “Cookie.” Surprise celebrity guests Evan Osnos (New Yorker, Boston Globe, Colbert Report) and Jonathan Ansfield (New York Times) spoke of why they chose China (in Osnos’ case, over Scotland) and how their experiences with CET in the 1990s shaped their journalism careers. Moderator David Moser confessed, lest we get too romantic about the past, that at least on one occasion being in China during those early years landed him in a pit of pig feces.
From Capital M it was off to the Jinlongtan Hotel for a special meeting and banquet in honor of our Chinese partners and original teachers and staff. ATA’s leadership, including Vice President Chase Poffenberger, Vice President Mark Lenhart, Senior Asia Program Manager Adam Jones, and President Kate Simpson, delivered thank-you speeches in Chinese! At the banquet, deans from our host universities in Beijing, Harbin, Hangzhou, Shanghai, and Kunming spoke and presented gifts to CET. When Kate Simpson made a toast, the room rose to its feet and guests spent the rest of the evening mingling, laughing, and reflecting on the ways that thirty years of study abroad in China has touched peoples’ lives, especially those in that very room. Happy birthday, CET. Here’s to thirty more years!
CET Hangzhou Summer Immersion 2006
CET China Programs Manager 2010 to present
Visit CET’s Facebook page to view more photos from the 30th Anniversary Event in Beijing.