Vanderbilt’s Global China Connection chapter hosts fourth annual China Week

The event featured panels on economics, professional development, politics and film.

A GCC member introduces Vanderbilt Professor Peter Lorge during Monday’s panel on economics, as photographed on Feb. 21, 2022

Laura Vaughan

A GCC member introduces Vanderbilt Professor Peter Lorge during Monday’s panel on economics, as photographed on Feb. 21, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Laura Vaughan)

Damian Ho

The Vanderbilt chapter of Global China Connection (GCC) hosted its fourth annual China Week from Feb. 21-24. The event consisted of four, one-hour panels per day on a variety of subjects, including economics, politics and culture.  

Global China Connection is a nationwide, student-run nonprofit that provides college students and other young professionals the opportunity to engage with Chinese politics, society and culture. Vanderbilt’s undergraduate chapter of GCC was founded in 2014, but the organization didn’t host its first China Summit until 2018. The first summit featured panel discussions and workshops all over the course of one day. In 2019, the summit was expanded to a full week. However, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the 2020 iteration of China Week and forced the 2021 panels to be held virtually.

China Week kicked off on Monday, Feb. 21, with an event focused on economics in the years following the Chinese Civil War. Tuesday’s panel offered guidance for Chinese international students pursuing graduate studies. On Wednesday, Feb. 23, the organization hosted two visiting speakers—Ryan Hass from the Brookings Institution and content creator Cyrus Janssen— to discuss the politicization of COVID-19 in American and Chinese media. 

The week ended with a showing of the Ang Lee film “Lust, Caution”—a romantic drama set during the Japanese occupation of China during World War II.

GCC President and junior Joy Zhang said the diversity of topics this year was a purposeful choice by the club to expand the event focus beyond traditional subjects. 

“What we are trying to do through various subjects, topics and themes is invite people to see China in a more multifaceted way,” Zhang said. “It’s only when people actually enjoy your culture—or at least have the willingness to learn about your culture—do we think of ourselves as a club doing a lot more meaningful work on campus.”

The majority of this year’s event attendees were ethnically Chinese students. Zhang cites this contribution from Vanderbilt’s Chinese community as a key part of the organization’s mission. However, GCC’s events are not solely directed at educating students not of Chinese descent.  

“What has characterized our discussions is Chinese students may hear an opinion that they don’t share, and they may say ‘I’ve been through this situation myself and I had the exact opposite of what you described,’” Zhang said. Both experts and students in the audience gain a lot from that conversation.” 

First-year Abhay Khanna told The Huster that he is glad he attended the China Week politics panel on Feb. 23. 

“I thought the panelists were intelligent and I enjoyed their presentations,” Khanna said. “I think that the GCC leadership did a great job of finding quality speakers and running a cool event.”