On Feb. 23, the Bing Overseas Study Program (BOSP) announced that it will offer a new quarter-long program in Hong Kong starting in autumn 2019. The program will become the 12th active BOSP program and the second with no language requirement.
According to BOSP Faculty Director Ramón Saldívar, Hong Kong edged out Shanghai as the location of choice for the new program to replace the BOSP Beijing program, which was suspended at the end of the 2016-17 school year due to reduced student enrollment.
Saldívar said he is happy with the decision and excited to help establish the new program.
“[The response has been] uniformly positive, just thrillingly so, from a broad range of faculty, from the public, from alumni and from students,” Saldívar said.
Though the Hong Kong program will not have a language requirement, it will still offer Mandarin and Cantonese courses. Saldívar referred to Mandarin as “the language of business and education.”
“Those programs where we don’t have a language prerequisite draw students from every discipline and every major,” Saldívar said. “This is a program that has so much potential that we don’t want to limit it to just those populations of undergraduates who already have that language ability.”
Panos Vandris ’21 said he was disappointed when Stanford suspended the Beijing program, but he hopes to be one of the first students to study abroad at the Hong Kong BOSP location.
“I was very excited to see that they are restarting a program that would be engaging in both Mandarin and Cantonese and also be located in Hong Kong, which is [at] such a political, social and economic crossroads,” he said.
Although the Australia BOSP program has an academic focus in environmental science and policy, the Hong Kong program will not feature any particular focus, according to Saldívar.
“We opted not to have a specific focus, but rather to take advantage of the immense possibilities of the history, culture, arts, business and finance that greater China offers and that Hong Kong in particular does too,” Saldívar said.
Saldívar said that he and an advisory committee of Stanford faculty who specialize in Chinese studies across a broad range of disciplines will shape the curriculum for Hong Kong. He said BOSP advisors will host two student focus groups on Mar. 12 and Mar. 13 in an effort to give input as to what they would like to see and experience in Hong Kong.
Sam Schreiber ’17, who served as the Program Ambassador for BOSP Beijing from the summer of 2016 until its suspension last spring, wrote in a statement to The Daily that he is excited to see a new BOSP program in China. Schreiber described the move from Beijing as “inevitable” due to a lack of students and faculty as well as “underutilization” of the Stanford Center at Peking University (SCPKU).
“The study abroad program in Beijing succeeded in immersing students in Chinese culture, strengthening language skills, making interpersonal connections with local university students, and matching students with part-time internships in Beijing,” Schreiber wrote. “If the Hong Kong program does only a fraction of this, it will still be a worthwhile program to maintain.”
Michael Spelfogel ’18, who took part in the Beijing BOSP program in the spring of 2016, wrote in a statement to The Daily that he is surprised Stanford chose Hong Kong over Shanghai. He also said he was sad that the Beijing program was suspended, but said that the city contains higher air pollution and fewer English speakers than Hong Kong.
“I would hope that the program goes to great lengths to assure that students feel immersed both in the culture and language,” he wrote. “Hong Kong is an incredible place so I am sure the enrollment numbers will be much higher and Stanford will be happy.”
Schreiber also wrote that he thinks Shanghai would have been a better choice for the new BOSP location but that he sees unique benefits to a Hong Kong location as well. He also said that Hong Kong and Shanghai — both of which he described as “large, Westernized megacities” — would yield “fairly similar” experiences.
“Going to Beijing is the most rewarding decision I’ve made thus far at Stanford,” Spelfogel wrote. “I’m excited that other people will have the opportunity to go to a Chinese-speaking city.”
Contact Michel Espinosa at mesp2021 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Holden Foreman at hs4man21 ‘at’ stanford.edu.