Staff Spotlight: Colin Speakman

Director of China Programs
Colin Speakman brings over 25 years of high-profile experience in International Education for American undergraduates, having served as Senior Vice President at the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) for 17 years and taught International Business and Finance at Richmond the American International University in London for 5 years. Since late 2010, Colin has been responsible for all CAPA semester and summer programs in China, manages the operations and development in China, and acts as overseas liaison with US institutions considering establishing programs in China.

Director of China Programs, Colin Speakman

What makes studying abroad in Shanghai a unique experience for students?

Colin: Shanghai provides an amazing fusion of East-West culture as a city once heavily influenced, and party administered, by Western powers that became the economic capital of China. Shanghai is now China's "city of experiment" and students can feel the future here. To stand on the Western architecture Bund, and gaze across the Huangpu River to modern Pudong with its inspiring skyline is an unforgettable experience.

What can you tell us about the culture in Shanghai?

Colin: Shanghai has more English spoken that most China Mainland cities, alongside a Shanghainese dialect. It is a true 24 hour city, with a great blend of Chinese, other Asian and Western cuisine. Although home to 23 million, it is a relatively compact city with many skyscrapers and an efficient public transport system. Shanghai locals are business focused as are the many migrant workers from Southern China. The pace of life is pretty fast.

What level of Chinese proficiency do students need to have before enrolling in this program?

Colin: Students need no prior knowledge of Mandarin, and can get by without, aided by local bilingual CAPA staff. There are some useful non-credit survival Mandarin sessions as part of CAPA MyEducation program in the first two weeks.

Gardens on campus of Shanghai International Studies University

What are some extra-curricular activities participants enjoy while studying in Shanghai?

Colin: Students will do many activities as part of the CAPA MyEducation Program These include a guided visit to the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall with its huge 3-D scale model of the city, and a restful visit to the historic Yu Garden with its ponds, bridges and hundreds' years old trees. Students also do excursions to the nearby "Paradises on Earth" of Hangzhou and Suzhou.

What is one piece of advice you would offer someone considering studying abroad in Shanghai?

Shanghai International Studies University campus, host to the CAPA Shanghai Summ

Colin: Come and you will not regret it! If a student is interested in China's development, International Economics, Business and Finance there is no better city to put on your resume. If a student is interested in how the future will unfold, this is the future-focused city.