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W. Chad Futrell has spent almost twenty years studying, conducting research, and working in China and South Korea, including consulting for numerous NGOs. Chad is currently the Executive Director of Student Life at Schwarzman College, Tsinghua University, where he oversees the Deep Dive mobile learning course, Practical Training Project internship program, and Chinese and English language programs. He was previously the Center Director of the CIEE Study Center at Peking University and Minzu University of China. Before shifting into higher education administration, Chad won several teaching awards for his courses on China’s development and environmental challenges, international relations, government, and business culture. An avid hiker, Chad has led groups to many sections of the "wild" Great Wall, and has designed and led study abroad programs in various places in China including Tibet, the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, rural Guizhou Province, and the border regions of North Korea and Russia. Chad spent his undergraduate years studying Chinese religion and philosophy at UNC-Chapel Hill and University of Sussex before spending several months studying Zen Buddhism at South Korea’s Songgwangsa Temple. He later completed graduate work in Environmental Management, Asian Studies, and Development Sociology at Cornell University, and earned certificates of Advanced Chinese and Korean from Tsinghua and Sogang universities, respectively. His research and language studies were generously supported by Fulbright-Hays, Korea Foundation, and FLAS fellowships, among others.
Mike Cooper first came to China in 2009 as part of a team of volunteer teachers operating summer camps in four different Chinese provinces. Mike returned to China in 2010 to study Chinese at Beijing Normal University, and moved to China upon graduating from Dartmouth College in 2012. After moving to China, Mike enrolled in an intensive Chinese language program at Tsinghua University. In the spring of 2015, he obtained his Chinese driver’s license and has taken several long-distance road trips in China – including a trip in which he followed the Great Wall for 1,400 miles from Beijing to the western end of the Great Wall in China’s Gansu Province. He is an avid photographer and drone pilot, and has captured aerial videos and photos of many sections of the Great Wall around Beijing, and sections in Hebei, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Ningxia, and Gansu Provinces. In addition to hiking and photographing the Great Wall, Mike enjoys studying the history of the different sections and interacting with the locals living in the nearby villages. Born and raised near the Northern Rocky Mountains of Idaho, Mike developed a penchant for outdoor activities at a young age.
Irene Lu is a manager of foreign teachers at an International School in Beijing. She is originally from Suzhou, a Chinese city nicknamed ‘the Venice of the East’, known for its traditional Chinese garden architecture, silk and Kunqu opera. Irene lived in Chongqing, Tibet, Shenzhen and Hong Kong before spending ten years overseas in Singapore, Malaysia, Denmark, India and the US while working for a global shipping company. Irene enjoys the charms of traveling- widening horizons, experiencing local food and culture, relaxing, and becoming more tolerant of different ideas and cultures. Her experiences abroad motivated her to become a docent. During her tours, which include Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Hutong and Daily Life in Beijing, she not only introduces the scene or architecture, but also shares stories and explains traditional cultural elements and concepts. She is a great photographer and is currently working on a book about her experience as a docent in Beijing, inspired by her clients from around the world.
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