USC EASC

The East Asian Studies Center at the University of Southern California leads and supports education, research, and community research concerning East Asia.

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Sep 12 2014
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EASC FUNDS FELLOWS’ RESEARCH, LANGUAGE TRAINING, LEARNING

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EASC supports graduate students through a number of funding opportunities made possible by federal, foundation and donor support. In summer 2014 alone, we offered three different types of fellowships to 29 graduate students from a wide variety of departments and schools at USC. We are committed to supporting a breadth of research and disciplines in order to build a stronger East Asian studies community across the university.

Tsai Fund for Taiwan Studies

Mike Chin (M.S. student, Global Medicine)
Project: Examine Taiwan’s Medical Healthcare infrastructure (single payer health system) and its application in the U.S. Research and interview with several key healthcare agencies including the Bureau of National Health Insurance, Department of Health, Tzu Chi Buddhist University, and Taiwan Medical University.

Huilin Fang (Ph.D. student, Linguistics)
Project: Use modern linguistics theories as a tool to document and examine several linguistic phenomena in Saisiyat, an endangered aboriginal language in Taiwan that is in dire need of preservation and documentation.

Mylinh Ngo (DPPD student, Policy, Planning, and Development)
Project: Collect data on urban adaptation to climate change in Southeast Asia and East Asia. Research and meet with officials from National Taipei University, National Development Council of Taiwan, Planning and Engineering Bureau of City of Taipei, and Environment Protection Bureau of Tao Yuan Metropolis.

Association for Japan-U.S. Community Exchange (ACE) - Nikaido Fellowship

Yukari Easton (M.A. student, Public Diplomacy)
Project: Participate in the Center for Public Diplomacy Summer Institute and conduct research on post-natural disaster public diplomacy, specifically Operation Tomodachi and the Tomodachi Initiative, a public–private partnership between the U.S.-Japan Council and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. 

Nicolette Lee (Ph.D. student, East Asian Languages and Cultures)
Project: Participate in a two-week intensive workshop on early modern Edo-period (1603-1868) written Japanese at Cambridge University in order to learn the stylistic conventions of Edo-period writing and the specific tools and strategies for reading such materials. 

Yu Tokunaga (Ph.D. student, History)
Project: Conduct archival research in Japan on labor conflict between Japanese farmers and Mexican farmworkers in 1930s Los Angeles; present a paper at the annual conference of the Japanese Association for American Studies about the impact of Japanese internment on ethnic Mexicans in Los Angeles.

Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship

Cassandra Dierolf (M.A. student, East Asian Area Studies)
Project: Study advanced Japanese through the intensive program at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies. Her goal is to utilize her improved language skills in a Ph.D. program studying pre-modern Japanese history.

Young Sun Park (Ph.D. student, History)
Project: Study advanced Japanese through the intensive program at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies. The continued improvement in her Japanese will further help her research on Korean history and historical Japanese-Korean interactions.

Meredith Shaw (Ph.D. student, Political Science and International Relations)
Project: Study beginning Chinese at UCLA. Her goals are to use her Chinese language skills, in addition to her Japanese and Korean skills, towards researching the political economy of East Asia as well as North Korea issues.

Caitlyn Stone (M.A. student, East Asian Area Studies)
Project: Study advanced Chinese through the intensive program at the Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies. She plans to apply her Chinese language skills to working in the field of U.S.-China relations. 

(Source: usceasc)


May 12 2014

East Asian Studies Student Awards & Achievements

Congratulations to EASC-affiliated students for their achievements in the last year and awards for 2014-15! We are proud to highlight a few of the many graduate and undergraduate East Asia student accomplishments.

GRADUATE STUDENTS

  • Yasuhito Abe (Communications): 2014-15 USC Research Enhancement Fellowship
  • Keisha Brown (East Asian Languages & Cultures): 2014-15 USC Graduate School Dissertation Completion Fellowship
  • Nancy Chao (East Asian Area Studies): Full-time job with IBM as a Senior Consultant
  • Nate Heneghan (East Asian Languages & Cultures): 2014-15 USC Graduate School Dissertation Completion Fellowship
  • Chin-hao Huang (Political Science and International Relations): 2014 USC Ph.D. Achievement Award; 2014-15 USC Korean Studies Institute Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Amanda Kennell (East Asian Languages & Cultures): 2014-16 Andrew W. Mellon Digital Humanities Fellowship
  • Ana Lee (Comparative Literature): Postdoctoral Fellow at Tulane University, followed by tenure-track position at Columbia University
  • Kate Page-Lippsmeyer (East Asian Languages & Cultures): 2014-15 USC Manning Endowed Fellowship
  • Di Luo (East Asian Languages & Cultures): 2014-15 USC Research Enhancement Fellowship
  • Victoria Montrose (East Asian Languages & Cultures): 2014-15 Blakemore Freeman Foundation Fellowship For Advanced Japanese Language Study 
  • Luman Wang (History): Assistant Professor of Modern Chinese History, Virginia Military Institute
  • Gaoheng Zhang (Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Humanities): Assistant Professor of Italian Cinema and Literature, University of Toronto

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

  • Eri Aguilar (Political Science): Heyman Scholarship
  • Cindy Barrios (East Asian Area Studies): Ronald E. McNair Scholarship
  • Shoko Oda (International Relations, East Asian Area Studies): Gold Family Scholarship
  • Marisa Tsai (International Relations): TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France)
  • Leowil Villanueva (International Relations Global Business, East Asian Languages & Cultures, Spanish): Summer 2014 Critical Language Scholarship in South Korea; 2014-15 Hassenfeld Fellowship for International Law/Economics MA Program at Johns Hopkins SAIS-Nanjing University Center
  • Vivian Yan (History, Comparative Literature): Lois W. Banner Award for Best Undergraduate Thesis (History)

Apr 21 2014
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EASC Awards Fellowships for Japanese and Taiwanese Studies

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Congratulations to EASC’s Association for Japan-U.S. Community Exchange (ACE) – Nikaido Fellowship and Tsai Family Research Fund for Taiwan Studies award recipients for 2014-15!

10 graduate students were awarded the ACE-Nikaido fellowship to advance understanding of Japan and US-Japan relations through research, language training, or area studies.

20 faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students received the Tsai Award to research and study Taiwan. 

ACE-NIKAIDO FELLOWS 2014-2015

  • Yasuhito Abe, Communications Ph.D. student
    Project: Research how citizens are generating scientific data about nuclear radiation with Geiger counters and the role of digital media in generating information about nuclear radiation.
  • Jillian Barndt, History Ph.D. student
    Project: Participate in USC Kambun workshop and reading seminar at Meiji Gakuin University to further language abilities for research on role of women in Nara and Heian-period Japan.
  • Yukari Easton, Public Diplomacy M.A. student
    Project: Research Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s foreign policy.
  • Sachiko Kawai, History Ph.D. student
    Project: Dissertation writing on Japanese royal women’s estate management and land-based power during the early medieval period.
  • Amanda Kennell, East Asian Languages & Cultures Ph.D student
    Project: Research history of Alice in Wonderland and ballet in Japan and work closely with Japanese academics and members of relevant cultural industries.
  • Lisa Lee, Literature and Creative Writing Ph.D. student
    Project: Research and record oral histories of Japanese citizens and visit sites and archives to provide fiction novel with valuable world-building materials.
  • Nicolette Lee, East Asian Languages & Cultures Ph.D. student
    Project: Participate in two-week intensive workshop on Edo-period written Japanese at Cambridge University.
  • Yu Tokunaga, History Ph.D. student
    Project: Research and present a paper on the interethnic problems concerning Japanese immigrants and ethnic Mexicans in the United States at an academic conference to be held in Japan.
  • Chad Walker, East Asian Languages & Cultures Ph.D. student
    Project: Research and collect data on pragmatic uses of evidential particles in natural-occurring discourse from native Japanese speakers for dissertation on comparison of evidentials use in Japanese and Korean.
  • Emily Warren, East Asian Languages & Cultures M.A. student
    Project: Research nature of disease and treatment during the Japan’s Heian period for thesis.

TSAI AWARDEES 2014-2015

FACULTY

  • John Chang, EALC Chinese Language Program Director, Master Lecturer
  • Eric Heikkila, Professor of Public Policy
  • Audrey Li, Professor of East Asian Languages & Cultures
  • Tracy Tambascia, Associate Professor of Education
  • Abraham Joshua West, Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences
  • Shinyi Wu, Assistant Professor of Engineering; Iris Chi, Professor of Social Work; and Hsin-yi Hsiao, Clinical Assistant Professor of Social Work

GRADUATE STUDENTS

  • Mike Chin, Global Medicine M.S. student
  • Huilin Fang, Linguistics Ph.D. student
  • Yunwen Gao, East Asian Languages & Cultures Ph.D. student
  • Cho-Han Lee, Pharmaceutical Economics & Policy Ph.D. student
  • Mylinh Ngo, Public Policy Ph.D. student
  • Jihyun Shin, Political Science and International Relations Ph.D. student
  • Cheng Kun Wen, Preventative Medicine Ph.D. student

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

  • Cindy Barrios, East Asian Area Studies major
  • Oscar Chen, Human Biology major
  • Brianna Dawson, East Asian Languages & Cultures and Spanish major
  • Ethan Levin, International Relations and East Asian Languages & Culture major
  • Jazmyn Tanski, Cinematic Arts Critical Studies major
  • Rebecca Tom, Health Promotion & Disease Prevention major
  • Patrick Vossler, International Relations (Global Business) major

Apr 14 2014
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EASC Awards 10 Summer FLAS Fellowships

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Congratulations to EASC’s 10 Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellows for summer 2014! Four outstanding graduate and six undergraduate students were awarded the U.S. Department of Education fellowship to study intensive Chinese, Japanese and Korean through domestic and international study abroad programs. Our Fellows come from a diverse range of majors such as Chemical Engineering, International Relations, Comparative Literature, and Environmental Studies. 

FLAS Fellowships are provided by a U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant to enrich the nation’s pool of area and international specialists. 

Kelly Belter, B.A. junior
Majors/Minors: English (Creative Writing) and French majors, East Asian Languages & Cultures minor
Language of Study: Korean
Career Goal: Academic in Korean literature or Comparative literature with a focus on Korean literature and bring a greater understanding of Korean literature and culture to American scholarship.

Pleres Choi, B.A. freshman
Majors/Minors: International Relations (Global Business) major, Korean Studies minor
Language of Study: Korean
Goal: Local or international lawyer with a focus on helping Korean American immigrants and the community at large.

Cassandra Dierolf, M.A. 1st year
Program: East Asian Area Studies
Language of Study: Japanese
Goal: Academic in East Asian history with a focus on early modern Japanese history.

Fan Fan, B.A. junior
Majors/Minors: Comparative Literature major, History minor
Language of Study: Chinese
Goal: Academic in Asian/Latin American studies to inform policymakers and advance comparative studies.

Eric Fried, B.S. freshman
Majors/Minors: Chemical Engineering
Language of Study: Chinese
Goal: Utilize Chinese language and cultural understanding in global engineering field, particularly between the U.S. and China.

Jack Koppa, B.S. sophomore
Majors/Minors: Environmental Studies major, Digital Studies and East Asian Languages & Cultures minor
Language of Study: Chinese
Goal: Work to improve the condition of China’s environment, quality of life for the overpopulated country, and for the world.

Young Sun Park, Ph.D. candidate
Program: History
Language of Study: Japanese
Goal: Modern Japanese and Korean history academic with a research focus on childhood and the institutionalization of children in need, particularly Korean orphans and orphanages from 1900-1960.

Meredith Shaw, Ph.D. 2nd year
Program: Political Science and International Relations
Language of Study: Chinese
Goal: Academic with a research focus on East Asian regional issues such as historical awareness, national reconciliation processes, maritime dispute.

Caitlyn Stone, M.A. 1st year
Program: East Asian Area Studies
Language of Study: Chinese
Goal: Work for the U.S. government within an agency relevant to U.S.-Chinese relations, such as U.S. intelligence community as an analyst, open-source officer, or consultant; or non-governmental organizations dedicated to furthering understanding between China and the U.S.

Marisa Tsai, B.A. senior
Program: International Relations major, French minor
Language of Study: Chinese
Goal: U.S. State Department Foreign Officer or foreign affairs think tank specializing in Asia-Pacific region.


Mar 20 2014
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Global East Asia 2014 Scholars

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Global East Asia Korea 2013

Congratulations to EASC’s Global East Asia scholars for summer 2014! 41 students were accepted into this year’s competitive scholarship program to study abroad in China, Japan and Korea. Coming from a diverse range of backgrounds and 23 majors across 7 schools, our scholars will study, live and travel throughout each country, funded generously by a grant from the Freeman Foundation with matching support from USC Dornsife, Korean Studies Institute, and US-China Institute. 

Global East Asia China

  • Eri Aguilar, Political Science 
  • Charles Becker, Philosophy, Politics and Law 
  • Aissa Castillo, International Relations (Global Business)
  • Olivia Chui, Communication and Business Administration
  • Amanda Heston, East Asian Languages & Cultures, Economics/Mathematics
  • Scott Hung, History
  • Ethan Levin, International Relations and East Asian Languages & Cultures
  • Jeffrey Levine, Environmental Studies and International Relations
  • Steven Luong, International Relations (Global Business)
  • Aleen Mankerian, Public Relations
  • Coleman Monroe, International Relations and Economics
  • Christmas Myers, Philosophy, Politics, and Law
  • Sean O’Leary, Economics and East Asian Languages & Cultures
  • Diane Um, Policy, Planning & Development

Global East Asia Japan

  • Ryan Bobell, Film and Television Production
  • Natasha Cirisano, Fine Arts
  • David Collier, Physics
  • Andy Gause, Writing for Screen and Television
  • Charlsie Hoffman, International Relations (Global Business)
  • Qianying Hu, Accounting 
  • Kelli Kosaka, Public Relations and East Asian Languages & Cultures
  • Stephanie Liang, Business Administration
  • Sarah Nakamura, Fine Arts 
  • Kent Oya, Human Development and Aging
  • Lisa Peng, Accounting and Business Administration
  • Benjamin Surbrook, East Asian Languages & Cultures and International Relations
  • Cody Oyeda, English (Creative Writing) and Communications
  • Tanya Yang, Undecided

Global East Asia Korea

  • Esther Chang, Policy, Planning, and Development
  • Jane Hong, Mechanical Engineering
  • Chongiin Kim, Biological Sciences
  • Shalea Klepner, Cinematic Arts Critical Studies
  • An-Quang Nguyen, International Relations
  • David Shin, Political Science
  • Jiajing Tang, Accounting
  • Maria Pamela Vergara, Cinematic Arts Critical Studies
  • Jiaqi Wang, Business Administration
  • Jiafeng Xu, Accounting
  • Nicholas Yamamoto, East Asian Languages and Cultures
  • Eileen Yoon, Psychology

Nov 11 2013

EAAS GRADUATE ALUMNI RECONNECT THROUGH NON-PROFIT CAREERS

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2012 Mid-Autumn Moon Festival at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, CA. Credit http://www.ccdcus.com 

Chelsea Mason (EAAS ’10) and Ethan Xing (EAAS ’09) worked together as classmates in the East Asian Area Studies M.A. program, but never thought they would be collaborating as colleagues. Several years after graduation, however, they reconnected professionally through non-profit careers.

As Marketing and Communications Director of the Pacific Asia Museum, Chelsea has worked with Ethan, Program Planner and Public Relations Specialist of the Chinese Culture Development Center, on a number of projects. Most recently, they collaborated on a Mid-Autumn Festival that featured a variety of performances, activities and food related to Chinese culture.

Thinking back to his time as a Master’s student, Ethan enjoyed the interdisciplinary nature of the program the most, which gave him opportunities to explore subjects and areas that were not on his academic radar to begin with. “I found that my original interest in Chinese history and cultural studies greatly benefited from courses I took in communication, public diplomacy, and political science. What I learned from all those classes complemented each other and better prepared me for my current career in cultural industry and public relations,” said Ethan.

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Ethan with other EAAS M.A. students. 

Chelsea echoed Ethan’s sentiments, adding: “The program really gave me the flexibility to pursue my own interests. Because I could take courses from several different departments, I feel I graduated with an understanding of different fields and approaches to cultural studies. I also liked that my cohort was small—I still stay in touch with many of my classmates!”

Chelsea also found that her background in East Asia studies gave her an edge when she started working at the Pacific Asia Museum as Membership Manager. Because she could connect to their members’ love of Asian art and culture, she was uniquely able to bring membership initiatives to a new level. Though she has recently accepted a position as Manager of Digital Marketing at the Los Angeles Philharmonic and will not be working specifically on Asian art, she continues to see the value of her graduate degree. “In the performing and visual arts, Asia is becoming more and more popular. You see more exhibitions and traveling performance groups coming through LA every year. I know that my background in Asian art and culture will continue to be useful,” said Chelsea.

For students interested in a career in the arts, Chelsea encourages them to “explore how you can gain concrete skills in addition to your knowledge of art and culture. This will make you extremely valuable. Learn media production, communications, event planning, anything!” She also advises students to look for opportunities to explore the field through internships and networking, and to be open to approaching the field from different angles. “Someone who wants to work in the field of Asian studies or the arts can do so not just by curating, but also through marketing, fundraising, programming and more. All of these directions will still get you constant engagement with your field.”

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Chelsea in Beijing, China. 

Ethan recommends that students use available resources to better prepare themselves for future careers. “You should participate in academic and career events organized by EASC and other USC units such as the U.S.-China Institute to build your connections with people already working in the fields you are interested. You never know which event will help you land an internship that might develop into a full-time position after your graduation.”

He finds his current job rewarding because he is able to meet and work with interesting people from very different social strata in both China and the U.S., as well as be part of an expanding industry. This same benefit, however, is a challenge, as the Chinese Culture Development Center grapples with “how to translate the public’s interest in China into a workable business model that yields sustainable profits in the long term.”

Chelsea enjoyed her four years at the Pacific Asia Museum because “working at a small organization allowed me to learn many new skills, particularly in digital media.” The most challenging part of her experience was dealing with a small budget, but this also encouraged her to be creative and resourceful, traits that employers look for.

In the future, Ethan looks forward to continuing his work at the Chinese Culture Development Center and expanding their business in the cultural industry and strengthening relationships with partners in the U.S. and China. Chelsea hopes to remain in the LA nonprofit arts community and grow as a professional marketer. Both alumni are excellent examples of how East Asian studies translates to diverse career paths.


Oct 24 2013
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EASC FUNDS FELLOWS’ RESEARCH, LANGUAGE TRAINING, LEARNING

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Each year, EASC supports undergraduates, graduate students and faculty through a number of funding opportunities made possible by federal, foundation and donor support. In summer 2013 and academic year 2013-14 alone, we gave $278,227 in fellowships to 15 undergraduate students, 23 graduate students and 5 faculty from 22 different departments and schools at USC. We are committed to supporting a breadth of research and disciplines in order to build a stronger East Asian studies community across the University. Here is a look at some of the people and projects we funded in the past year:

Tsai Fund for Taiwan Studies

Joshua Hsieh (Master of Fine Arts student, Film Production)
Project: Research concurrent trends in Taiwanese film industry co-productions with the People’s Republic of China. As a result of connections made through his research, Josh is working with the USC School of Cinematic Arts to screen select Taiwanese films at USC.

Chin-Hao Huang (Ph.D. student, Political Science and International Relations)
Project: Conduct a research study on Taiwan and cross-strait relations. His findings were integrated into a paper co-authored with Professor Patrick James entitled “Blue, Green, or Aquamarine?: Taiwan and the Status Quo Preference in Cross-Strait Relations,” which has been accepted for publication in The China Quarterly. This paper also received the Best Paper Award presented at the 2012 Annual Convention of the International Studies Association (ISA)-West.

Tin-Yu Tseng (Lecturer, East Asian Languages and Cultures)
Project: Develop a new advanced Chinese language and culture course entitled “Chinese through Theater and Drama” at USC.

Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship

Maracel Guevarra (B.A. student, Animation and Digital Arts and East Asian Area Studies)
Project: Study advanced Korean through an intensive 8-week Cal State University San Bernadino program. She hopes to use her Korean language and cultural studies with her professional digital arts training toward a future career in the animation or documentary industry that facilitates collaborations between American and Korean companies.

Shannon Haugh (Master of Public Diplomacy student)
Project: Study Japanese and East Asian security issues and diplomacy at USC. After graduation, she plans to work to promote bilateral US-Japan relations in the Los Angeles area or pursue a position with an international organization in Japan in the field of strategic communication, public diplomacy, or intercultural relations.

Vivian Yan (B.A. student, Comparative Literature and History)
Project: Study advanced Chinese at the Inter-University Program in Beijing, China. Her goals are to use her Chinese language skills towards a career as a researcher or academic examining the relationships and identities of diasporic Chinese communities in China, Hong Kong, and Macau.

Association for Japan-U.S. Community Exchange (ACE) - Nikaido Fellowship

Yasuhito Abe (Ph.D. student, Communications)
Project: Conduct fieldwork in Japan to research the role of DIY (Do-It-Yourself) reports of radiation measurement data in shaping post-Fukushima nuclear crisis Japanese society.

Jesse Drian (Ph.D. student, East Asian Languages and Cultures)
Project:  Participate in USC Kambun Workshop on late medieval materials, reading pre-modern kambun text in classical Japanese, discussing the meaning in modern Japanese, and preparing English translations.

Amanda Kennell (Ph.D. student, East Asian Languages and Cultures)
Project: Conduct field research in Japan on the production and consumption of Japanese mass media through visiting museums and libraries, acquiring materials and connecting with Japanese scholars and industry personnel. 


Oct 21 2013
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Job Opportunities

The October 21, 2013 issue of the EASC eNewsletter included several job opportunities for those interested or specializing in East Asia. 

Outreach Assistant, USC U.S.-China Institute
Chinese Language Program Director, University of Michigan 

Oct 18 2013

FELLOW ALUMNI FEATURE: BILLY NOIMAN

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Billy Noiman graduated from USC with a double major in Business Administration and East Asian Languages and Cultures in 2010. While at USC, he received the EASC Area Studies Abroad (ASA) Fellowship, funded by a generous grant from the Freeman Foundation, to study abroad in Beijing, China. He was also a USC Renaissance and Global Scholar and Deputy Editor of U.S. China Today. Currently, Billy lives and works in Daegu, South Korea as the Academic Director of YGM Language Academy. He manages a staff of English instructors and oversees branch recruitment and development.

How did you become interested in East Asian studies?

Many people ask me this question, and I never really have a good response. I was born in a hospital near Chinatown in Los Angeles, so my father believes that that could be part of the reason why I was so “naturally” attracted to China. However, I did grow up with lots of friends that had ancestral ties to Asia. For example, my high school was around 40% Korean. I’m sure all of my Asian friends played a major role in my decision to come live in East Asia.

What did you enjoy about being a double major in East Asian Languages & Cultures and Business Administration and how has it helped you in your career?

I really enjoyed the flexibility that I received from being a double major. There are so many business majors out there, so studying EALC was a differentiating factor for me. Whenever I would go into interviews, the recruiter would always show an interest in my decision to study Chinese.

Also, learning Chinese has really accelerated the process of learning Korean. So many Korean words come from Chinese, so it’s much easier for me to memorize them. In a workplace where Microsoft Windows and Office on all of the computers are in Korean, learning some Korean is extremely important. My double major definitely prepared me well for this experience.

How was your experience studying abroad in Beijing, China and what impact did it have on you?

Studying abroad in Beijing, China was one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences that I’ve ever had. When you are in an environment that is unlike anything you have ever experienced, you are forced to adapt and learn quickly. During my time abroad, I broadened my understanding of the world, created special relationships with people from all over the world, and learned to embrace uncertainty. I could literally spend days talking about the people I met, the places I visited, the food I ate, and the knowledge I gained through my study abroad experience. If you are a student, and you have an opportunity to study abroad, do it! It’ll change your life!

Of course, none of this would have been possible if it were not for the very generous financial support provided through fellowships such as the EASC Area Studies Abroad Fellowship. It was a comfortable feeling to know that I could travel around the world and learn about another culture with a lightened financial burden. The EASC Fellowship gave me this peace of mind, and for that, I’m extremely grateful. I’m also happy to announce that I’ll be starting my own scholarship for students looking to study abroad in the spring of 2014. I believe in the study abroad experience, and I would love to help other students just as I was helped. 

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Billy with Chinese students while studying abroad at Peking University.

Why did you decide to teach English in Korea?

After graduating college, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I half-jokingly tell people that at that point in my life, I had a list of companies that I knew I didn’t want to work for. I can trace my decision to come out here back to my friends. One day, while having lunch with some friends from high school—all of whom happened to be Korean Americans—one of my friends challenged me to try and live in another Asian country since I had already been to China. He shared his experiences in Korea and mentioned teaching as a possible opportunity.

If you’ve ever seen the movie Inception, my situation was pretty much just like that. Someone planted an idea in my mind, it grew, and I just ran with it.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your current position as Academic Supervisor? What are some challenges?

I love stories, and I believe everyone has a story to tell. So, the best part of my job is my constant interaction with so many different people. In the classroom, I learn a lot from my students as well as watch them grow and develop. With the Korean staff, I see the inner workings of a Korean company. And it’s always great to work with our foreign teachers. They come from many different backgrounds and have unique experiences.

As for the challenges, I don’t particularly enjoy writing lengthy reports. Who does? But it’s a part of the job. It’s a good challenge. Sometimes, it’s also difficult to manage the many different—sometimes competing—interests and desires among our customers (students), the foreign teachers, Korean staff, and Seoul head office.

What advice do you have for students thinking about working in East Asia after they graduate?

If you want to work in East Asia, you must come with an open mind. Living in East Asia is great, but I’ve seen many people struggle because they aren’t willing to learn about the culture and adapt. You don’t have to be fluent in the local language to be successful out here, but you must put in the time and effort to learn about the people and the culture.

Also, there are so many opportunities, but it’s difficult to see them when you are not here. I’ve met people who started off teaching English, came across a good opportunity, and then decided to start a company. Once you get here, doors will start opening up for you.

What are your future career goals?

The first step is grad school. After that, I hope to come back to Asia and work. I’ve got a lot of ideas about things that I’d like to do, but I need more time to sift through them.

Ultimately, I’d like to start a trade company that ships goods from countries like China and Korea to Kenya, my ancestral homeland. We’ll see where God leads me!


Oct 07 2013

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Global East Asia China 2013 Reunion Dinner
See more photos on our Facebook page.

Global East Asia China 2013 Reunion Dinner

See more photos on our Facebook page.


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