“I follow in bits and pieces,” said the Hillsboro High School junior, who plans to study physical therapy in college and minor in international business.

It’s why he signed up for Introductory Mandarin Chinese, a course the school launched in the fall. Before that, Nelson tried to learn from books from the public library.

Although just 17 students are enrolled in the course, compared with 670 taking Spanish, Hillsboro is expanding its Chinese offerings next school year with a teacher from China, an exchange program and Skype sessions with Chinese professors.

Richard Nelson: I’m here with Dr. Ming Wang in downtown Nashville on this Saturday morning, August 13th, 2011. Dr. Wang, as we’ve been talking with your background in China, the research question of my dissertation is what impact does contemporary poetry from 1950 to the present have on society. This is a question that is particularly apropos to America, yes, but I’m so interested in your perspective coming from China and being here for a long time now, since ’86, I think? If you, perhaps, could share some of your own background from the angle of what impact you saw of poetry in China growing up, if that affected people in general, if it affected the politic of the country. My arbitrary time of 1950 is quite close to 1949 when there was a big political change through Chairman Mao Tse-tung in China. Please feel free to share if there’s anything about poetry, if it was that influence of politic or the politics after that were changed, how it might have affected you, and maybe it didn’t, but if it did, if you’ve written any—not that you need to, but anything you feel relevant about the arts, music, what you’ve done that might shed light on the impact that contemporary poetry has if you are up on China, of course, or America. Whatever you feel to share is fine.

For U.S. companies looking to conduct clinical trials of new drugs and medical devices, Brentwood resident Dr. R. Stephen Porter is pitching China as a lower-cost setting where the job can get done much more quickly.

His consulting company, Dragon Bio-Consultants Ltd., helps American drug companies license their products in China and Chinese companies to license products here by getting through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration process.