Funded by Oberlin Shansi, In-Asia grants enable students to immerse themselves in winter term and summer projects in East, Southeast, and South Asia.
In-Asia grant recipients receive up to $1,500 to complete internships with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and conduct independent study on topics of their choosing. Upon returning to Oberlin, grant recipients present their projects to their peers. First, second, third, and fourth-year double degree students are encouraged to apply for In-Asia grants.
Leina Fieleke ’21, an art history and psychology double major with an East Asian studies minor, will work as a curatorial intern at the Maruki Gallery for the Hiroshima Panels in Saitama, Japan. She will be working under the supervision of Yukinori Okamura, director and curator of the Maruki Gallery for the Hiroshima Panels. Her project is titled “Anti-Nuclear Art Activism in the Context of the Maruki Museum.” At Oberlin, Fieleke works as a curatorial assistant of Asian art, a docent at the Allen Memorial Art Museum, a student assistant for the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE), is a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellow, and is cochair of the Japanese Student Association.
“Thinking about what I want to do with my life, I realized one of the most important things to me was to go to Japan and improve my language abilities,” she says. “I think this experience could be transformative for me not just in terms of my language abilities and art historical learning, but also in how I include Japan in my life in the future.”
Mathematics and computer science double major Charles Cui ’20 will explore the social and cultural dimensions of bookstore culture in Taiwan in the digital age through his project, “Nightclubs for Literature: Bookstore Culture in Taiwan.” Cui will interview bookstore owners and customers in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. An international student from China, he is looking forward to developing connections between Asia and Oberlin, as well as learning about the continent from a different perspective.
“Opportunities like this will really help me understand social phenomena in a comprehensive way and help me become a better communicator through foreign immersion,” Cui says. “What excites me the most is the unknown. I always learn the most from the unexpected.”
Lea Watkins-Chow ’22 is an environmental studies major and will be working with Tian Shen Ling Organic Farm in Central Taiwan through Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). Watkins-Chow will learn about generational relationships and knowledge of agricultural systems through her project, “Growing in Taiwan: Interactions Between Generations and Agriculture.” She is looking forward to improving her Mandarin and connecting with Taiwanese culture.
“Exposure to permaculture and sustainable food systems, in addition to Mandarin and Taiwanese culture, will enhance my academic and extracurriculars here at Oberlin,” Watkins-Chow says. She is a member of Oberlin College Climate Lobby and Sunrise, an on-campus environmental organization.
Jazz trombone major Neko Cortez ’20 will study traditional Philippine instruments and pedagogical techniques in Quezon City, Philippines. In his project, “Finding My Unique Voice Through Musical Syncretism,” he will explore the intersections of music and community with other art forms. As the culmination of his project, Cortez will compose a musical piece that blends traditional Southeast Asian music forms with jazz music. He will give a performance of his work upon returning to Oberlin.
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