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The "glue" connecting Hopkins parents halfway around the globe

Dedicated volunteers Cynthia and Chris Chan play an integral role in establishing the Hong Kong Parents Leadership Council
Posted October 19, 2016
(l-r), Chris Chan, Theodore Chan, President Ronald J. Daniels, Cynthia Chan. (l-r), Chris Chan, Theodore Chan, President Ronald J. Daniels, Cynthia Chan.

Cynthia and Chris Chan, Parents '15, had always been actively involved in their sons' schools. But they were resigned to the thought that trend couldn't continue when their son, Theo, MA (A&S '16), A&S '15, chose to attend Hopkins. Homewood, after all, isn't exactly right around the corner from Hong Kong, where the Chans live.

Yet six years later, the Hong Kong Parents Leadership Council now exists — and it's largely due to the Chans' hard work.

"Our gatherings give us all a chance to keep in touch and be updated on the latest news from our Blue Jays," Huey Jin Lin, Parent '18, says of the council, which holds events and maintains communications among the families of Hopkins students from around the country.

"A group like this helps bridge the distance and bring the Hopkins community closer to our homes, wherever they may be."

The council's origins trace to a reception for international parents during orientation week in 2011, when the Chans brought Theo to Hopkins. Both Cynthia and Chris attended the reception to learn about the Hopkins Parents Council and the President's Parents Roundtable. But during the proceedings, something else happened: Cynthia ran into an old friend.

"I told her we should meet again in Hong Kong, and maybe invite some more parents if they're interested," she recalls. "The Hopkins Parents Council provided a list, and we organized a lunch for about seven or eight of us a few weeks later. And that's what started the group."

The Hong Kong Parents Leadership Council slowly grew, supporting admissions and development efforts in the area. Cynthia helped set up groups on WhatsApp, a popular platform in Asia, for Hong Kong parents to communicate with each other. The parents began holding an annual reception for Hopkins-bound Hong Kong freshmen and their families, and last year invited recent alumni and families from southern China, too. When administrators like President Ronald J. Daniels have visited Hong Kong, the council gathered to greet and connect them with their networks. And parents like Chris Chan, who are alumni of other institutions with strong footholds in Hong Kong, have provided valuable insight into how Hopkins can better position itself throughout Asia.

When she and her husband, Stephen Lin, attended a dinner the council hosted for President Daniels in 2015, Huey Jin recognized Cynthia from a church group the two shared. Now an active member of the group, Lin calls Cynthia and Chris the "glue" that's held much the group together over the years, and she's grateful for the fellowship and support the council provides for Hopkins parents.

"We're very happy we've started an organization that will go on. It's wonderful to have started something that's become so meaningful for many people," says Cynthia, who along with Chris has pledged to endow a scholarship for students in the Krieger School, from which their son graduated.

This year, the Hong Kong Parents Leadership Council will begin taking on a formal structure reflective of other Hopkins advisory boards. The council's current leadership — which includes Lin and her husband, Stephen, Bin Li and Jessica Gu, Parent '19; Philip Cheng and Cecilia Yau, Parent '19; H.T. and Iris Ho, Parent '12, '13, '17; and Xuewu Yang and Spring Yang, Parent '19 — will be charged with carrying forward the legacy the Chans have helped to build.

Learn more about the Hopkins Parents Council.