The East Asian Languages and Literatures department at Smith College was established in 1988. Interest in East Asia had increased at Smith during the ’80s due to the region’s economic importance, appeal for the exotic, and the postwar climate.
Professor Thomas Rohlin and Smith students in Nishijin Weaving Center, Kyoto, Japan.
The department’s current chair, professor Tom Rohlich commented that “geopolitics and economics are closely related to interest in East Asia as well as strong immigration from the region,” which is evident from the increased number of foreign students at Smith from East Asia. Many students attracted to the department hope to excel at an East Asian language (i.e., Japanese, Chinese, Korean), but the culture also intrigues students—anime and manga being the biggest attractions. An interesting development over the past few years is the prevalence of foreign students wanting to study Japanese or Chinese language due to being exposed to East Asian pop culture in their home countries.
There are many East Asian study abroad options for Smith students, including the popular Associated Kyoto Program in Japan. In addition to sending a large number of students each year, Smith also sends a faculty member to teach at the university every three years.
The one thing Professor Rohlich would like Smith students to get from the East Asian Languages and Literatures department is “a global perspective of what their life could be after Smith.” He realizes that not everyone is going to study abroad, but “every community in the world is touched by globalization.” There is a real importance in our society today to have an awareness of the different cultures in the world and best ways to communicate with people from different walks of life.
In terms of improvements for the program, Professor Rohlich wants increased advocacy for Smithies to live in the world, so naturally there is more of an international emphasis with the curriculum. The departments also want to keep the curriculum up-to-date so that they can serve the changing needs of the students. They are, for instance, offering language courses that incorporate translation skills. Smith has a fourth-year Japanese language course that is doing just that—making English subtitles for the introduction of a Japanese TV show. Smith students involved in the department have gone on to work in the banking industry in Shanghai, do freelance translating, work as manga publishers, and more!
On Monday, November 25, the Lewis Global Studies Center will host a WHAW (What’s Happening Around the World) in response to the recent typhoon Haiyan that struck the Philippines. The discussion will begin with remarks from President McCartney, and will include panelists Richard Chu and Josh Miller.
Richard Chu is an associate professor of history at UMass Amherst, with expertise in South Asia. Proficient in several languages, Chu was born and raised in the Philippines, but spent some time in China, and is now based in the United States. He teaches courses on Pacific empires, Philippine colonial history, Asian American history, the Chinese diaspora, and world history.
Josh Miller is the both Associate Dean for the School for Social Work and a professor, with a specialty in psychosocial disaster response. He has co-taught the school’s foundation social policy course, the required anti-racism course and developed a course on psychosocial capacity building in response to disasters.
The open forum begins at 12 p.m. on November 25. Pizza will be served.
Humanity in Action is currently accepting applications from talented college students and recent graduates who are intellectually gifted, mature, independent and passionate about social justice and human rights. Current sophomores, juniors, seniors and 2012 and 2013 graduates are eligible to apply.
Humanity in Action Fellowships bring together international groups of college students and recent graduates during the summer in several European cities, to explore national histories of discrimination and resistance, as well as examples of issues affecting different minority groups today. Each program is interdisciplinary and features daily lectures and discussions with renowned academics, journalists, politicians, and activists, as well as site visits to government agencies, non-profit and community organizations, museums, and memorials. This summer’s program will take place in Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Paris, and Warsaw.
The objective of the Humanity in Action Fellowship is to facilitate a collective exploration of the social and political roots of discrimination, as well as to provide a forum where potential solutions to some of today’s most challenging issues can be considered and discussed. The programs are also intended to instill a responsibility among Humanity in Action Fellows to recognize and address the need to protect minorities and promote human rights—in their own communities and around the world.
Applications for the program are due by January 9, 2014.
Gaia Cozzi AMS’14 is a student in the American Studies Diploma Program, a one year program offered to international students to study in the United States at Smith College. Hailing from the University of Florence in Italy, Gaia is a graduate student here to further her education and make the most of her time living in America.
For Gaia, who majored in Communications with an interest in sustainable agriculture, she wrote her thesis on sustainable food and was interested in ways to persuade people to invest in local produce. She has been impressed by the local-grown food initiatives in Northampton and Smith College. However, the food she eats at Smith in the dining halls is vastly different from what she would eat in Florence, and thus she has felt homesick. While Gaia may be homesick, she is still open to the benefits of studying abroad. She advises students who plan to study abroad that they will “need to be tolerant and try to understand. Don’t judge based off of your cultural code. You tend to forget that when you are homesick.”
Luckily, her previous study abroad experience in Finland during high school gave her some preparation for the United States. At first she struggled to adjust to life in Finland, but Gaia credits her age for her fast adaptability. She was young and willing to make mistakes, so she learned quickly. She encourages students studying abroad to follow this example.
Gaia practiced and became confident in her language skills, which she then used in other areas of her life. For instance, she started a candy shop catering to a mainly American clientele. It was because of this candy shop that she wasn’t too bewildered by American culture; she had much exposure to it before she arrived in the United States and knew what to expect.
Gaia was always interested in English and learned a lot of of English by traveling. This self-motivation is what eventually earned her a scholarship to Smith’s AMS program that she is still in disbelief to have received.
This interview was conducted by Global STRIDE students Sarah Liggera ’17 and Kaitlin Scholand ’17.
On Monday, the International Students’ Organization and the Office of International Students and Scholars hosted its 68th annual International Students’ (IS) Day. Many Smithies, faculty, and staff members of the Smith community attended.
Smith students made food from their home countries. More than 2,000 tickets were sold prior to the event and the line to buy tickets at the event reached from the Campus Center Carroll Room down the stairs and along the hallway (1 ticket = $1; items cost between 1 and 4 tickets). All regions of the world were represented with food at each booth.
At the Georgia booth, Nini Dvali ’15 had Khachapuri and Beans ready to serve; this is her second time participating in IS Day. When asked why she decided to cook something for the occasion, Nini explained that she loves everything the International Students’ Organization does—how it brings the Smith community together by sharing different cultures. She was on ISO cabinet for over a year and plans on participating next year at IS Day!
Irene Marusoi ’15 from Kenya made vegetable stew with round flat bread, which was so popular that it was all gone after an hour. She made this particular dish because it is a classic meal in Kenya reserved for special occasions like weddings and family gatherings. This is her third year participating in IS Day, and the reason she continues getting involved is because she loves showing Smith College what rich culture the international students bring to campus. She remarked that this is her favorite day of the year!
Isabel Ontaneda ’16 made Ecuadorian Shrimp Ceviche for IS Day. It is one of her favorite dishes from growing up in Ecuador. When asked what she loves most about preparing for IS Day, Isabel replied that cooking with fellow international students is both relaxing and fun.
IS Day was a treat for both the international students and the Smith community.
Ria Deshpande ’16 came to Smith from Pune, India.
Ria Deshpande ’16, a prospective biology and computer science double major, always wanted to come to the United States to study. Ria is a first generation college student; before arriving at Smith, she knew she wanted to come to a small liberal arts college, preferably in a warm region. Still Smith caught her attention!
Originally from Pune, India, Ria notices a lot of differences between home and Smith. The way her peers interact with each other and remain so engrossed on what they are doing, whether a sport, schoolwork, or a hobby, she finds very intriguing.
Upon arrival at Smith, Ria “absolutely fell in love with the campus.” Northampton reminded her of a place “out of a storybook.” The sense of community Ria feels while at Smith from her house community and the Smith community at large has been integral to her college experience. She mentions how she “loves how we all live in houses instead of dorms and interact on a daily basis with people from all walks of life, of all different years, and doing all kinds of new interesting things.”
In terms of her classes, Ria finds it extremely empowering to be surrounded by smart, ambitious young women, and she especially enjoys the freedom to express her opinions no matter the thought. Her favorite class thus far has been a creative nonfiction writing course about sports. She attributes her success in writing to this class because of being able to write about something she loves. When asked how Smith can better assist international students, Ria commented that organizing more events where international students can meet American students would be very helpful; overall, she feels Smith makes a great effort to acclimate international students to life at Smith.
As the secretary of the International Students’ Organization and HCA for Morrow House, Ria continues to enjoy being at Smith. She plans to go to graduate school after Smith and hopes to earn a PhD in computational genomics.
Smith President Kathleen McCartney and her husband, on their way to the inauguration ceremony, October 19, 2013.
Smith’s new president Kathleen McCartney was inaugurated on October 19 and is now embarking on visits to meet alumnae.
On Monday, November 18, President McCartney will be in London for a special welcome reception. An internationally renowned scholar, McCartney comes to Smith from Harvard University, where she was dean of the Graduate School of Education. Colleagues have called her “an extraordinarily effective academic leader” who has a “relentless passion for enhancing learning in all its forms”.
The event will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m. Guests are asked to arrive on time in order to enjoy a reception featuring wine, sparkling water, and hors d’oeuvres. Following the reception, guests will have the opportunity to hear from President McCartney at 7:30 p.m.
The reception is being held at Dartmouth House, 37 Charles Street, Mayfair, London. There is a $30 fee to attend.
To register for the event, please visit: www.smith.edu/register/london.
This year’s study abroad photo contest kicked off with a reception on October 21.
Yesterday, a reception was held for the Study Abroad Photo Contest. Many students were at the reception, examining their peers’ photos taken around the world.
Each picture seemed to have a story behind it.
For instance, Ashley Tulbert ’14, took a photo of the Great Wall of China while studying abroad for the semester in Beijing this past year. When asked why she had chosen that particular photo to submit, Ashley explained that she had been to the Great Wall two times prior but never when it was snowing. The picture is of the Mutianyu section of the Wall, which took her three hours to climb.
Another Smithie, Winter Schwaid-Lindner ’14, traveled to Madurai, India. Her picture of the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata is especially nostalgic for her because it was taken right before a torrential downpour. Winter notes that it was a particularly good day with new friends.
The categories for the exhibit were Cultural Encounters, Cultural Scapes, Daily Life, Learning Moments, and Natural Ecology. Several professors, including French Professor Janie Vanpee, made up the judging panel and each explained their particular favorites for each category. Discussions ensued about ethics and etiquette when taking a picture in a foreign country and the true definition of ecology as related to human interaction with the natural world.
Congratulations go to Jessica Sarno ’14 for Best in Show for her picture of a misty boat dock in Varanasi, India.
Dr. Vehbi Baysan is one of two special guests presenting a Global Salon this week.
This Thursday, October 24, the Lewis Global Studies Center in Wright Hall is hosting two Global Salons. Global Salons are an opportunity for the Smith community to gather to discuss global issues and meet with special guests from around the world.
The first, at noon, is titled Human Rights Research and Activism: Reflections on Genocide and Justice in Guatemala. Presented by Elizabeth Oglesby, Professor of Geography and Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona. Oglesby has worked in Guatemala since 1986 conducting research on the aftermath of counterinsurgency in Maya regions and on post-war politics and development. A pizza lunch will be served.
At 4 p.m. on Thursday, a second salon, The Syria War and the Regional Perspective, will also happen at the Global Studies Center. The presentation will address the conflicts in Syria from the regional perspective of Dr. Vehbi Baysan. Baysan is a professor of History and Middle Eastern Studies at Yeditepe University in Istanbul, Turkey and the Center Director for the IES (International Education of Students) Abroad Istanbul program. Light refreshments will be served.