U.Va. Chinese Magazine Debuts This Fall

October 12, 2009 — A new online magazine, produced entirely by University of Virginia Chinese students and scholars, has the potential to reach a large audience.

A very large audience.

This month marks the publication of the second issue of V Ke: The Chinese Magazine at the University of Virginia. It will focus on the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, as well as the memories of the Chinese students who have studied in the United States over the past 160 years, said founding editor-in-chief Yan Haiming, a U.Va. graduate student and instructor in sociology.

"U.Va.'s Chinese community has been expanding over the past decades. There are now about 600 in the community. But there has been no formal local media for the students and scholars to express and communicate in their native language," Yan said.

He, along with the other three founding members, thought a quarterly magazine could fulfill this goal. The 60-page magazine contains about 10 stories in each issue. All but one are written in Chinese.

Articles in the magazine range from cultural critiques and movie reviews to daily life stories, as well as poems. "We also publish essays written by American students who study Chinese," Yan said.

The idea of a magazine received support from other U.Va. Chinese students, including Li Jiguang, president of U.Va.'s Chinese Student and Scholar Society, and Hu Di, who serves as another editor-in-chief. Yan's wife, Li Wei, contributes creative ideas and graphic designs. "But we are all ordinary students," Yan said.

The magazine doesn't have a faculty adviser, "but a number of Chinese faculty have given us strong support," Yan said, singling out Peter Yu, associate dean of students, and faculty in the Chinese program among them.

The inaugural issue, published Aug. 20, has beautifully illustrated stories on the American presidential election, a film review on "Nanjing, Nanjing!" and an essay about social meanings of food. The sole English-language article, written by U.Va. student Benjamin Xiong, is titled "Shakespeare on Chinese Stage."

The magazine not only serves as an outlet for Chinese students and scholars to express themselves in their native language, "it's also a channel to present U.Va. to prospective students and a common audience in China," Yan said.

The readership for "V Ke" includes Chinese native speakers at U.Va. and throughout Virginia and the U.S. It also reaches students and readers worldwide who are interested in Chinese lives abroad, said Yan, who estimates that 100,000 people are reading the magazine online.

Currently "V Ke" is e-mailed free of charge to Chinese Students and Scholars Society subscribers, who then forward it endlessly. It receives some funding from the society, but is largely financed out-of-pocket by the founding members. Yan hopes to secure more funding in the future from other sources.

The magazine also is an additional resource for students here and elsewhere who are learning Chinese.

Yan invites feedback and submissions, and welcomes subscribers.

To contact the magazine's editors, e-mail csssmagazine@gmail.com.

The inaugural issue received "hundreds of feedbacks from our readers," Yan said. "Most of them were very positive. We also got a lot of constructive suggestions for future issues, such as publishing more articles about Chinese students' common lives at U.Va. We … seriously consider them to make our magazine better and more popular."

The next issue will be out Oct. 30.