This is the fourth in a series of postings from Asia, as I and my colleagues visit alumni, parents, and friends in the region. This posting is by Mike Schoenfeld ’73.
The ride from the airport to the island city is dramatic, with the rugged forested mountains framing crowded skyscrapers of every conceivable shape and size. There is movement and activity everywhere, from the bustling harbor to the lively canyon-like streets. The tidiness of Tokyo and constraints of Beijing give way to the openness and energy of Hong Kong.
Our relationship with Hong Kong is deep and strong—stronger in many ways than our relationship any other city outside the United States with the exception of London. Most Middlebury presidents visit here at least once in their tenure, going back as early as President Sam Stratton in 1959. It was at a dinner for Stratton hosted by C. V. Starr that Tom Kan ’64 first learned about Middlebury. Fifty-two years later, Tom proudly introduced Ron at a small dinner that included the Hong Kong parents who hosted a reception for John McCardell in 1997, Kenneth and Nancy Ting P’96.
The difference on this presidential visit is the level of Middlebury’s involvement in the region. Fifteen years of international recruiting in admissions, coupled with the opening of the schools abroad in China and Japan, has dramatically increased the number of students who want to work and study in Asia. They join the early pioneers who picked up their language skills in the Language Schools and the undergraduate program beginning in the late ’60s and accelerating into the ’90s. The opportunities of the global economy bring plenty of jobs, and Middlebury alums have just the right skills to take advantage to that. When you add Monterey alumni to the mix, you have more than a critical mass to form a significant Middlebury network.
No place is this network stronger than in Hong Kong. The alumni and parent reception at the China Club is packed as Ian Malin ’99, the newly elected president, introduces Ron. Even the core group of volunteer leaders is surprised at the strong turnout. We all feel that this is just the beginning of a whole new chapter in Middlebury’s presence in Asia.
—Mike Schoenfeld ’73, senior vice president and senior philanthropic adviser