Audrey Chee '09

Audrey Chee

Audrey Chee '09

Hometown: Hong Kong
Major: Asian Studies, with a minor in French

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
Bowdoin provided something different for me—a change of pace, a change of scenery, and a change of culture. I wanted something that would challenge me, academically and personally. I had lived in the same city for 18 years, and I wanted to learn about myself and how I could adapt to different situations. At the same time, when I visited Bowdoin, the summer before my senior year, I felt comforted. There was something about the friendliness of the people on and off campus, the proximity to the ocean as well as a city, and the numerous resources available that made me feel reassured that I could live here for four years. A large part of my decision was also due to Deborah Deveaux, the admissions officer for international students at that time. I met her when she came to visit my high school, and we stayed in touch throughout the application process. Her openness and honesty only helped to make my decision easier.

Why did you choose your major?
I took a few Chinese history courses in high school, and I was always fascinated by the rapid cultural changes in Asia during the past century. Seeing as I had come from Hong Kong to the U.S., I did not think I would focus on that. However, I was inspired after taking Professor Shu-chin Tsui's course Culture in Contemporary China, in which we studied film, music, art and its presence and effect in China, post-Cultural Revolution. I wanted to learn about how and why China has transformed, especially because I plan on working in China sometime in the future. I've taken French since middle school, so although it wasn't something I wanted to pursue heavily, it was definitely an interest of mine, which is why I decided to minor in it.

What has been a course you especially enjoyed at Bowdoin?
There are too many! My first-year seminar, Seekers Lives, with former Bowdoin professor Kidder Smith was very memorable. We studied and discussed biographies and works by different religious figures. Kidder created a great class dynamic, and my classmates and I became very close. We even went on a cabin trip together to New Hampshire at the end of the semester. I also love the two visual arts classes that I have taken—Photography I with Michael Kolster and Digital Color Photography with Meggan Gould. Both classes and professors have challenged me significantly, creatively and intellectually. Lastly, I am currently conducting a yearlong independent study about the effectiveness of advertising in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games with Shu-chin Tsui in the Asian studies department. Being able to conduct an independent study has given me the opportunity to learn about a subject that is not provided in the curriculum, and also gave me a better idea of what I am interested in.

What professor or professors have especially inspired you during your time at Bowdoin?
Kidder Smith, my Asian studies advisor, who sadly retired this past year. He was one of those professors who was always smiling, incredibly joyful and open to anything that you wanted to talk about. Though he welcomed anything that I was thinking and wanted to do, he would always question the other side of the argument to make sure that I was seeing the whole picture. I've always appreciated that. Charlotte Daniels, my French advisor, is another professor whom I admire. She guided me through many academic decisions, and was incredibly supportive academically and emotionally.

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Audrey (right) and fellow senior Courtney Stock, deejaying at WBOR.

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
Since my first year, I have been heavily involved in WBOR 91.1 FM, Bowdoin's non-commercial radio station. I have hosted a radio show with various friends all four years, and became the music director the spring of my freshman year. For the past four years, along with WBOR's past and present music directors, I have helped choose what goes in and out of the station, keep track of the music on the shelves, communicate with promotion companies, etc. I have always had an interest in independent music, and WBOR was something that I wanted to be a part of before I got to Bowdoin. I am happy and proud to be part of something that has grown in staff, members and interest in the past four years.

I have also been involved in smART during my freshman and sophomore years. smART is an art-based mentoring program for students from West Harpswell Elementary School. I did something similar to this in high school, so it was a natural fit when I wanted to participate in community service. Using art to work with children has been incredibly rewarding, especially since I was able to build good relationships with a community.

Since my first year, I've worked as the assistant in the Language Media Center, which is the film and media leg of the library at Bowdoin. I've had the chance to watch films that I wouldn't otherwise have known about! Working at the LMC has also allowed me to meet different staff members and faculty.

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Trekking in Tibet.

Did you study abroad during your time at Bowdoin?
I spent my fall '07 semester in India, Nepal and Tibet with SIT's Tibetan and Himalayan Studies. We spent the majority of our time in Dharamsala, India, a northern Himalayan town where the Dalai Lama resides with the largest Tibetan exile community. Dharamsala is a very small community and it quickly felt like home. We learned the basic Tibetan language, studied a lot about Tibet's cultural and political history, as well as participated in anthropological fieldwork. I ended up conducting my independent study on post-14th-century Dalai Lama problems and situations in Dharamsala, because I wanted to continue the relationships that I had made there. In between, we also spent some time in Kathmandu, Nepal, where we were able to experience Buddhist teachings and prepare for our trek in Tibet. In Tibet, we experienced "the other side" and split our time between exploring Lhasa and trekking around the central region.

What have you done during your summers?
I spent one of my summers working at Bowdoin's admissions office. I gave daily tours, as well as helped out in the information sessions. It was terrific, because I got to enjoy beautiful Maine summer weather, work with extremely hilarious people, and talk everyday about a place that I love. I also spent my past summer interning at Leo Burnett in Hong Kong. Leo Burnett is a global advertising company, and I learned a great deal about the nature of advertising agencies, teamwork, and thinking fast on your feet.

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
There are a lot! Some of my favorite moments are the weekly dinner meetings with WBOR's management. I have formed a lot of friendships and met some of the funniest and most creative people there. Secondly, coming from a tropical place, skiing was something that I didn't think I'd have a chance to do. Luckily, most of my friends were either seasoned skiers, or had basic skiing experience, so it was a nice mix of company to ski and learn with. I am extremely afraid of heights, so it is incredibly satisfying to be able to ski down a tall mountain and say I did it! Lastly, my summer in Maine was incredibly memorable. One of my favorite moments was when my friends and I went camping on Merritt Island, an island that Bowdoin owns. We went kayaking, ate s'mores and enjoyed the sunshine. Then, as we packed up to go back to Bowdoin, we stopped by the Yarmouth Clam Festival, where we ate our fill of fried clams! It was a great weekend.

What are your plans for after graduation?
I am planning on working in the marketing industry, either with an agency or with a market research firm. I would also love to go to graduate school sometime in the future. I hope that whatever I do will allow me to work in different countries.

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
It's never too late to do something at Bowdoin. I did not go on a pre-orientation trip my freshman year, partly because I wanted to spend more time with family and friends and partly because I wasn't ready to go on an outdoor trip—something that I hadn't really done before. Coming from a city, I was always under the impression that hiking and camping wasn't something that was in me. Yet, when I went on my first Outing Club trip, I found the Bowdoin Outing Club to be incredibly supportive. Additionally, I got to see parts of Maine that I would never have otherwise. So, I applied and was given the opportunity to lead a pre-orientation trip my senior year. I got to spend a week in Acadia National Park with nine incredible first-years and my lovely co-leader, Simon Ou. On the last day, we woke up at 3 a.m. and hiked Cadillac Mountain, which is believed to be the first point in North America to see the sunrise!

If possible, spend a summer at Bowdoin. There are a lot of job and research opportunities during the summer, and you will get the chance to get to know professors, staff and students. Summers in Maine provide beautiful weather, tons of town fairs (i.e., Lobster festival in Rockland, Renaissance Fair in Scarborough, Clam Festival in Yarmouth), and Cotes, the ice cream shop in downtown Brunswick.

What quirky or fun thing did you wish you know before you came do Bowdoin?
Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving dinner at Bowdoin is the only time that the dining halls will open early with unbelievably long lines with students and people from town. They also have the fluffiest mashed potatoes!

Story posted on January 07, 2009

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