Asia Society has played a pioneering role in promoting the development of high-quality Chinese language programs in the United States. Under the continuing guidance and leadership of Vivien Stewart, Senior Advisor for Education and Chair of Asia Society’s Confucius Classrooms Initiative, we are expanding the scope of our work by establishing a new team dedicated to Chinese Language Initiatives as of September 2009.
Senior Advisor for Education and Chair of the Asia Society Confucius Classrooms Initiative
From 2001–2009, Ms. Stewart led the development of Asia Society’s programs to promote the study of Asia and other world regions, languages, and cultures in American schools and to build connections between U.S. and Asian education leaders. This included working with a network of state and national education leaders to promote international education; developing Asia Society’s national initiative to expand the teaching of Chinese; creating a prizes program to recognize excellence in international education; and providing publications and web resources for teachers and students. Internationally, she has developed a series of international benchmarking exchanges to share expertise between American and Asian education, business, and policy leaders on how to improve education to meet the demands of globalization. Prior to Asia Society, Ms. Stewart was the Director of Education programs at Carnegie Corporation of New York, where she managed a number of national education programs and influential education task forces. She has also been a Senior Advisor on Education at the United Nations. She has undergraduate and graduate degrees from Oxford University and, in 2007, was awarded the Harold McGraw Prize for her national contributions to education. As Chair of the Confucius Classrooms Initiative, she will chair the advisory committees and ensure that the Initiative is connected to education leaders across the United States.
Associate Director, Chinese Language Initiatives
Chris is our Chinese Language Initiatives team manager and the instructional coordinator for the Confucius Classrooms Initiative. He joined Asia Society in 2009 after leading the development of a new New York City public school called The High School for Language and Diplomacy, which is a member of the Asia Society International Studies Schools Network. He spent three years as a Chinese and Japanese language teacher in New York Public Schools, and was a founding member of the faculty at The College of Staten Island High School for International Studies. Chris's language classes have been featured on ABC News, NBC’s Today Show, PBS, and have been frequently profiled in other media. He is co-author of the Chinese for Tomorrow textbook series, a member of the Board of Directors of the Chinese Language Teachers Association of Greater New York (CLTA-GNY), and served as Chair of the 2008 CLTA-GNY Annual Conference, which was held on the theme of “Chinese as a World Language.” A former U.S. Foreign Service Officer, Chris held postings as Deputy Director of the Tokyo American Center at the U.S. Embassy in Japan and as Vice Consul at the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai. He studied Chinese and Japanese literature at Columbia University and holds advanced degrees from the University of Chicago and New York University. He has lived in New York, Washington, Chicago, Tokyo, Yokohama, Shanghai, and in China’s Shandong province. He speaks Mandarin Chinese and Japanese fluently, and is proficient in Korean.
Assistant Director, Chinese Language Initiatives
Jeff is the partnership coordinator for our Confucius Classrooms Initiative, and our manager of technology and operations. Jeff joined Asia Society’s Chinese Language Initiatives in March of 2007. He has worked on the annual National Chinese Language Conference; the monthly e-newsletter and the website of the Initiatives; a DVD titled “Learning Chinese in American Schools;” a report on Chinese language education in the U.S.; and a Chinese language curriculum project themed around “China and Globalization.” Jeff also helped conceptualize the Confucius Classrooms Initiative here at Asia Society. He is particularly interested in how to foster meaningful and successful partnerships between U.S. and Chinese schools. Prior to joining Asia Society, Jeff worked for the Connecticut Shandong Sister School Partnership Project, which links Connecticut’s schools with Chinese counterparts. Jeff also worked for the Connecticut Baden-Wuerttemberg Exchange, which facilitates faculty and student exchanges between 19 higher education institutions in the two states. He studied comparative economic history of Western Europe and the Yangtze Delta, and received an MA in international affairs from the University of Connecticut. He also holds a BA in German, International Relations, and Economics from Connecticut College and spent a year at the Universität Heidelberg. He is a native of Shanghai, where he finished high school.
Program Associate, Chinese Language Initiatives
Eleise is the editor of our monthly newsletter and website, and is our coordinator for the annual National Chinese Language Conference, which is held in partnership with the College Board. She began her Chinese language studies in Minnesota’s Saint Paul Public Schools system, and later earned her BA in English and East Asian Studies at the College of Saint Benedict. Eleise also studied at Southwest China Normal University in Sichuan Province; taught English and culture at Zhanjiang Normal College in Guangdong Province; and earned her MA in Chinese Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)–University of London, where she wrote her dissertation on modern Chinese literature. Her previous work experience includes writing and editing for a wide variety of audiences. Most recently, she was an editor and project manager with Cheng & Tsui, a renowned publisher of Asian literature and multimedia educational materials.
Administrative Associate, Chinese Language Initiatives
Yi manages our office and meeting logistics, data, and research. She graduated from Bowdoin College with a double major in Asian Studies and Psychology, and a minor in Economics. She was the recipient of a Freeman Foundation grant to assist Gwen Moore, founder of the Gwen Moore Children’s Fund, in her work with schools in Guizhou, China. In addition to being a fluent speaker of both Mandarin and the Fuzhou dialect of Chinese, Yi has studied in Beijing (also under a Freeman grant); worked as a travel leader for Windsor Mountain International, bringing American high school students to China; and worked as a badminton coach in New York City. Yi brings to Asia Society a unique and impressive skill set, including her languages, research, and quantitative skills.