Staff Spotlight: Michael Chen
This series is my attempt to introduce readers to the people who make the Linden Centre possible—our incredible staff! The people who help the Linden Centre function on a day-to-day basis are a unique mix of local Bai people, Han Chinese from other parts of Yunnan, Han Chinese from other parts of China, and foreigners such as myself. As one of our founders, Brian Linden, likes to say, the Linden Centre experience is only 40% about the physical space of our hotel. 60% (or more!) of the experience our guests take away with them is the incredible care and service that our wonderful staff provide them during their stay.
Our very first staff spotlight goes to none other than Michael Chen. Michael, or Xiao Mai (小麦) (Little Michael) as he is affectionately called by his coworkers, is one of the Linden Centre’s two Princeton in Asia fellows this year. His Chinese name is actually Chen Weili, but he is known as Xiao Mai because when he arrived to work at the Centre another Michael, now known as Da Mai (Big Michael), had recently joined our team.
Michael hails from Richmond, Virginia, and is fiercely loyal to his hometown, something that I like to tease him about, my being from Maryland. (Readers from the DMV will understand how deep the Maryland-Virginia rivalry goes. As for our other readers, I’m sorry). Michael’s family owns a Chinese restaurant, so growing up he was always surrounded by delicious eats. Michael’s foodie instincts have led him to take on a role in developing the program for our new cooking school here in Xizhou. They also make him an excellent person to ask for restaurant and/or dish recommendation. Since joining the Linden Centre he has become a crucial member of our activities team, our travel curating arm that helps our guests get the most out of their time here.
Michael graduated from Wheaton College in May of this year, where he studied Sociology and History. While he doesn’t yet have a clear sense of exactly where he will be 10 years from now, he is considering pursuing a Masters in Sociology or Public policy at some time in the future.
In his free time, Michael can be found biking around Xizhou and the surrounding towns, picking wildflowers, or chatting with local shop owners.