Mike Chinoy is a Senior Fellow at the U.S.-China Institute. He was the 2011-2012 Joanna Nichols Visiting Scholar.
The next best thing to actually being in the arena or on stage is having a front row seat, from which to see the sweat bead on the athlete’s brow, the muscles twitch in the violinist’s arm, the subtle, unspoken communication between teammates, or the intensity on the eyes of the protagonist. In the fall of 2011, TAS students were able to appreciate what it means to have a privileged view from the front row for some of the most influential events in recent Asian history, through their interactions with the first Joanna Nichols Visiting Scholar, Mr. Mike Chinoy.President Nixon’s momentous handshake with Premier Zhou Enlai, contentious negotiations with North Korea, democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, Taiwan’s democratization process, and countless global conflicts were just some of the events about which Mr. Chinoy shared fascinating insights and analysis based on his unique, up-close experience.
Mr. Chinoy, a world-renowned journalist and the inaugural Joanna Nichols Visiting Scholar at TAS, provided this exciting perspective on historic and current events to our students during a month long residency at our school. During his visit, he typically engaged with two, three, or even four upper school classes each day – including International Relations, History of Asia, U.S. History, Journalism, AP Government and Politics, and the Taiwan/China/U.S. Relations Honors Seminar – and also worked extensively with student clubs and activities, such as Model United Nations and the North Korea club, ConNeKt. He also consulted with Journalism class students on the school newspaper, the Blue & Gold.
Although Mr. Chinoy has worked in academics at the college and post-graduate level in recent years, at the University of Southern California U.S.-China Institute, he relished the challenge of working with younger students for the first time. He felt that his background in television prepared him well for boiling down complex issues to interesting and understandable terms that resonate with this audience. Mr. Chinoy also spoke at several assemblies and delivered well-received presentations for parents and alumni.
The dedication and enthusiasm that TAS students displayed in their interactions with Mr. Chinoy clearly impressed him. He cited in particular the exemplary group of students who participated, on a day off from classes, in a simulation of the six-party talks on North Korea:
“18 students, who could’ve been sleeping in, chose to come in and participate in this simulation to learn about northeast Asian security issues… I thought that was a pretty good example of what the spirit of the student body here is all about.”
Student feedback reflects this enthusiasm and an appreciation for how Mr. Chinoy’s first-hand knowledge helped equip the students to tackle the big issues with their own ideas: Ting W. ’12 called the six-party simulation “an amazing experience,” noting further “Mr. Chinoy has been in North Korea multiple times. He understands the inner workings of the regime, and evaluated how realistic our propositions were… (he) gave us a basic framework and background… we tackled diplomatic issues on our own.” The TAS MUN teams that performed remarkably well at recent conferences in Berlin and Manila surely benefited from Mr. Chinoy’s input.
Another fantastic opportunity that Mr. Chinoy facilitated, provided a front row perspective on major global issues, was a conversation between TAS students and United Nations Assistant-Secretary General Jordan Ryan. Students from Ms. Darby Sinclair’s International Relations class spoke via Skype with Mr. Ryan asking questions and learning from a directly involved source about U.N. operations in conflict resolution and rebuilding.
He encouraged students to seek out new ideas and information and gain their own first-hand, front row experiences of key cultural, economic, and political events.
In addition to sharing unique resources, detailed factual information, coaching, and personal stories, Mr. Chinoy highlighted the wealth of opportunities that our students have to develop in-depth understanding of important Asian happenings and their relation to broader global developments. He also pushed the students to expand their horizons beyond preconceived notions and assumptions, and beyond basic book learning. He encouraged students to seek out new ideas and information and gain their own first-hand, front row experiences of key cultural, economic, and political events. He emphasized the profound practical relevance that such knowledge and experience can have in our students’ efforts to excel in an ever more interconnected global society.
Apart from major global geopolitical developments, another exciting process that Mr. Chinoy has witnessed first-hand is the progress of a TAS student from Taipei to college in the U.S. and on to exciting opportunities beyond. He is the proud parent of two former TAS students, Daniel ’05 and Benjamin ’10. Daniel, who participated in MUN at TAS, went on to graduate from Columbia University, where he studied Chinese History. He currently works in Shanghai in the risk management field. Benjamin is a technology enthusiast and a sophomore at Santa Clara University. Mr. Chinoy feels that his sons’ time at TAS gave them unique cross-cultural opportunities and perspectives that distinguished them from their peers and shaped their interests and goals in life. Mr. Chinoy’s wife, Lynne Curry, is a former TAS Board member.