Jasmine Mitchell ’21 Awarded Oberlin Shansi Fellowship and Critical Language Scholarship

April 9, 2021

Yvonne Gay

A portrait of a girl leaning on a wooden rail.
Jasmine Mitchell ’21
Photo credit: Jonathan Clark '25

An appreciation of Japanese history, culture, and language makes being awarded an Oberlin Shansi Fellowship and Critical Language Scholarship a dream come true for Jasmine Mitchell ’21.

“I enjoy learning languages because it offers a window into the culture and history of the target language,” she says.

Mitchell’s passion for Japanese language and culture sparked in a pilot elementary school program. Since then, she has taken numerous Japanese language courses and found ways to broaden her understanding of the culture by attending events in the Washington, DC area. However, the opportunity to travel to the country for firsthand exposure eluded her, until now.

As an Oberlin Shansi Fellow, Mitchell will spend two years teaching English at the J. F. Oberlin University in Machida, Japan. She will also continue her research on Afro-Asian solidarity movements, and deepen her understanding of diversity within cross-cultural collaboration.

As a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) recipient, she will further develop her Japanese language skills through intensive language and cultural instruction, connect with distinguished alumni of the program, and learn about future career opportunities available with enhanced critical language skills in government, public, and private sector career opportunities. CLS, a U.S. Department of State program, is part of an initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity. 

“Growing up in a family full of public servants, the importance of service to others was instilled in me at an early age,” says the East Asian Studies major with a concentration in International Affairs. “In keeping with this commitment to the service of others, coupled with my passion for international relations and human rights, I hope to join the U.S. Foreign Service to dedicate my career to helping people across the world improve their political, economic, and societal realities.”

Mitchell serves as vice-chair of Oberlin Student Senate and is a member of the Presidential Initiative on Racial Equity and Diversity, where she works on the Student Life and Learning Committee. As a student leader and committee member, Mitchell says she has taken an active role in conducting a series of focus groups to learn more about campus climate and students’ experience through cultural student organizations.

“My role on the presidential initiative has given me the invaluable opportunity to engage with students, consult with student-facing offices, and facilitate programming that uplifts the presidential commission's charge,” she says.

Mitchell, who also minors in politics and law and society, hopes to have a career as a U.S. diplomat.

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