Ami Li ’10 has grown up with one foot in China and the other in the U.S. She was born in Beijing, China and moved to the U.S. when she was three, first living in Ann Arbor, Michigan and then Amherst, Massachusetts. Li came to Wellesley in 2006, and majored in history. She moved back to Beijing after graduation for work and eventually returned to the U.S. at the end of 2016. She is now a freelance writer and translator in New York.
While in Beijing, Li worked as a music promoter for an independent concert and festival promoter agency. She later worked as a food critic and managing editor for City Weekend Beijing, a leading magazine in the city. However, after graduating from Wellesley, Li had not necessarily seen herself moving back to China to work there.
“I went into Wellesley, and also left Wellesley, without a really good idea of what I wanted to do. Around my senior year, I started becoming interested in China again. I didn’t major in Chinese or really take more than a couple of classes in the [subject] when I was at Wellesley. I just became interested, sort of organically, in China,” she said.
Li said she did not face many difficulties in adjusting to life in another country.
“It’s not easy living in a foreign country, no matter who you are. It was probably easier for me because I already speak the language and I look like [mostly] everyone else there…Just being in China and having a fairly outgoing personality and being super lucky to have a good group of friends when I was there and having a very stable work life, almost as soon as I got there, didn’t make it feel very challenging,” Li explained.
She also credits the amazing network of Wellesley alumnae in China who helped her.
“I’m really thankful and grateful for that. I kind of moved back without a plan and reached out to a couple of Wellesley alums who lived in Beijing,” she said. “I would say, unequivocally, that my entire time in China could be traced back to a couple of meetings and coffee and enormous favors done by Wellesley alums.”
Her college experience, too, helped shape the person she is today. While at Wellesley, Li was heavily involved in WZLY, Wellesley’s radio station. She served on the organization’s e-board her sophomore, junior and senior years. She was also on the Schneider Board of Governors (SBOG) for three years and helped plan concerts and events.
“That was actually a very concrete path between Wellesley and my first job, which was organizing concerts,” she explained. “That was a really good outof-classroom professional experience that I was able to leverage later on.”
Li believes that the things she learned outside of the classroom at Wellesley were equally as valuable as what she learned in the classroom.
“I really loved learning, so in that sense Wellesley is an amazing place for someone to grow intellectually. I always felt really challenged and really happy in the classroom, just sort of marinating in everyone else. I think people have to remember that the biggest lessons you get from Wellesley aren’t necessarily in the classroom, and it may take a little bit of time for you to appreciate the entire experience,” she said.
Li’s advice for current Wellesley students is to have fun.
“Don’t forget to have fun. Have fun, be close to your friends, stay up late, go out, stay in. I think that I made some of my best friends at Wellesley. I think those friendships are going to last forever,” she said. “Make memories or, if you can’t remember what happened, make sure someone does!”
She recalled that attending Marathon Monday was one of her favorite experiences at Wellesley.
“It’s the best. Everyone just relaxes and has fun…That was one of the reasons that I did not want to study abroad over the spring,” she explained.
In her free time, Li enjoys watching figure skating and baseball and reading cheesy romance novels. She also appeared on an episode of Jeopardy in December of 2017 and became a oneday champion. Li said that appearing on Jeopardy was a really fun experience and something that she will treasure for the rest of her life.