We feature interviews with inspiring people who somehow have something to do with China/Chinese. Today we present our first interview with Stephanie Hunt, founder of Swan Noir.

Name: Stephanie Hunt

About you: Nihao! My name is Stephanie Hunt, I live in New York City. I love to travel and learn interesting things about different cultures. I enjoy the Sunday New York Times, and I am learning to swim this year!

Name of your organization: Swan Noir, LLC

About the organization: Swan Noir is a social and business etiquette company based in New York. Ms. Hunt gives workshops and seminars that help individuals and companies develop, evolve, and fulfill their potential in the area of social and business etiquette.

How and why did you start your company/organization?
I started Swan Noir in 2007, I have always had a passion for learning new things and discovered more and more young people who needed help with social skills. Swan Noir started out holding workshops for girls and women. I now teach women, men, and children the social and business etiquette skills they need to get ahead at the office or in their social lives. I am the author of a social etiquette book called “Poise, Posture, Presence: A Guide to Decorum for Ladies.”

How long have you been studying Chinese, and why did you start studying it?
I started studying Mandarin in the summer of 2011. I first traveled to Beijing in 2007 and was intrigued by the Chinese culture and language. I study Mandarin here in New York and at a language school in Shanghai. I would like to bring Swan Noir to Asia and I have an affinity with Shanghai. I plan to move to Shanghai in 2013 to begin my business prospect. I decided to learn the language and experience the culture before I start a business in the area.

What is your most interesting/funny/crazy/inspiring experience while studying Chinese?
The most interesting thing so far has been meeting people from all over the world while studying in Shanghai. I have learned a lot about myself in the process as well.  As much as we are different, we are the same in so many ways. Shanghainese women face some of the same challenges and experience a lot of the same things when it comes to relationships, education, and work as American women do.

Why do you think education about China and/or Chinese language education is important?
We have become a global world, and we should know what is going on all over the world. China has become such a powerhouse in a short amount of time, and I think it is important for Americans to expand their horizons. There are many opportunities in China at the present, I say travel and experience them!

What is your favorite Chinese word/expression/character, and why?
Well, this is only my second year studying and I still say that I am in Kindergarten. I know it will take years to truly get it! So, my favorite phrases, or ones that I seem to use at least once a week when I have Skype lessons with my tutor in Shanghai are: Wo wang le 我忘了 (I forgot), and wo bu zhidao 我不知道 (I don’t know)…haha.

One of our goals at ChinaConnectU is connecting both like-minded people, and people from different fields with a shared interest in China. One of the ways we do this is by giving our interviewees a chance to ask a question to somebody else. So, what question would you like to ask our next interviewee?
My question for a student: Are you willing to share any unique tips for remembering Mandarin, at times I feel as if it can slip my mind so easily.