200 Days in the Life of the College

Tuesday, November 9

China to Clinton to Paris, for art’s sake

By Caitlin Fitzsimons ’11

Dinners at Nolas and boutique shopping are about all some Hamilton students know of the Village of Clinton. But for Xiaohan Du ’12, downtown Clinton is home to the Kirkland Art Center and at least 10 of her waking hours each week this fall. Xiaohan is one of three student fellows in the Hamilton Alliance for Nonprofit Strategic Advancement (HANSA). Now in its third year, HANSA aids nonprofit development in the greater Mohawk Valley community with selected Hamilton students who are passionate about service and plan on pursuing nonprofit management careers. HANSA fellows such as Xiaohan make a significant time and ideological commitment to the organization with which they are paired for a semester. They are also guided by William Billiter and Amy Lindner, the College’s director and associate director of foundation, corporate and government relations, who developed the program.

Xiaohan works both on the KAC’s strategic planning initiatives and its board’s manual. The fellowship especially resonates with Xiaohan given her art history major and her work experience in a New York auction house. Once Xiaohan’s fellowship ends, she looks forward to completing her junior year in Paris, studying the city’s museum practices, the French perception of art and Europe’s intellectual history.

Clinton, and Paris, are a far reach from the town of Yanzhou in China’s Shandong Province, where Xiaohan grew up and where, she notes, Confucius was born. A Chinese national familiar with both the nonprofit and commercial sectors of art, Xiaohan remarks on the contrast between Eastern and Western trends in art and in art appreciation. “I can only recognize China’s attributes by being at Hamilton and viewing my country through a cultural lens,” she says. “Hamilton’s academic opportunities have given me the freedom to experiment with different possibilities.”