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Eight Graduates Headed to Asia as Shansi Fellows

May. 31, 2012

Eight recent graduates will head to Asia this summer, where they will spend up to two years learning language and culture as Oberlin Shansi fellows. The highly selective fellowships place Oberlin graduates with partner institutions in China, India, Indonesia, and Japan.

Eight graduating seniors will head to Asia this summer, where they will spend up to two years learning language and culture as Oberlin Shansi fellows. 

The highly selective fellowships place Oberlin graduates with partner institutions in China, India, Indonesia, and Japan for two years. Shansi is an independent, nonprofit organization that operates on the Oberlin campus. The goal of the Shansi program is to promote understanding and communication between Asians and Americans through individual and group educational programs and community projects. Founded in 1908, it is one of the oldest educational exchange programs in the United States. 
 
Shansi provides grants to send Oberlin graduates and undergraduates to Asia to work and study, provides grants for on-campus initiatives that broaden understanding of Asian and Asian American issues, facilitates collaboration between Oberlin faculty and Asian faculty, and invites Asian scholars to Oberlin for research and study.

Starting this fall, the 2012-14 fellows will be joining Peter Edmondson and Matt Furda in Japan, Jazmin Guerrero in India, Sara Kadi and Zoe McLaughlin in Indonesia, and Claire McGregor and Skylar Sweetman in China. All are 2011 Oberlin graduates.

The three fellows going to China are Ricardo Barrios, Amelea Kim, and Veronica Colegrove. Lissette Lorenz will teach at J.F. Oberlin University in Machida, Japan; Christina James and Naila Paul have been selected for fellowships in India; and Cory Rogers and Santino Merino will go to Indonesia. 

Ricardo Barrios will graduate in May with a double major in politics and East Asian studies. He has been selected for the Beijing Normal University fellowship. Barrios attended the Associated Colleges in China Program at Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing from January to August 2010. He has served as an assistant in the Office of Puerto Rican Sen. Eduardo Bhatia twice — once as a winter term project and again during the summer of 2011. Barrios also serves as a Spanish tutor and translator for Oberlin’s Department of Hispanic Studies and has recently joined Oberlin’s Spanish in the Elementary Schools[1] (SITES) program, where he teaches elementary school students his vernacular Spanish. As the retiring NCAA captain of the OC Fencing Club (Flaming Blades), he is an A-rated epeeist and has taught the fencing Experimental College (ExCo) course for two years. He is a four-year recipient of the John F. Oberlin Scholarship. Barrios is interested in Chinese calligraphy and culture, foreign languages, good coffee, and Latin dancing. 

“I want to create a bond that runs deeper than scholarly study,” Barrios says. “To spend a full year learning and living China is something incredible. The mere thought of going all the way across the globe to China was something unthinkable only a couple of centuries ago, and I am acutely aware of this. The fact that I have also been selected to represent such an incredible organization as Shansi, and the countries of the United States and Puerto Rico on top of that, are also very important to me. I always make it a point to bring a bit of Puerto Rico with me wherever I go. I love my heritage, my culture, and my people, and, given our small size, it’s up to people like me to build the image foreigners may have of us.

“In the end, though, I know I will do my best to fulfill Shansi's mission — “to promote understanding and communication between Asians and Americans” — and I will have a blast doing it!”

Amelea Kim will graduate in May with a major in East Asian studies. Her fellowship is at Shanxi Agricultural University (SAU) in Taigu, China. Although her concentration is on Japan, she has also studied Korean history and politics as well as Chinese history. Kim is currently a third-year Japanese student, although she has occasionally ventured off the Asian continent with a few Spanish literature courses. She has not yet studied Chinese, and she is filled with equal parts trepidation and excitement at the notion of starting a new language. Kim serves as cochair of Oberlin College Taiko, and she is a teaching assistant to the Intermediate English as a Second Language class at Oberlin. As student coordinator of the Student Friends of the Library, she often collaborates with Ray English, Oberlin's director of libraries, and she is the student assistant of Ed Vermue, special collections librarian. 

Veronica Colegrove will also be at Shanxi Agricultural University (SAU). She will graduate in May with a double major in computer science and Latin. Colegrove has studied Chinese and ancient Greek. At Oberlin, she has served as a tutor/mentor in the Ninde Scholars Program and has been a cochair and treasurer of the Liberated Unitarian Universalist Voices. She also has volunteered with the Interfaith Hospitality Network and has worked at Head Start Preschool with America Reads. She previously spent a month in China, where she tutored in English, and is eager to develop her Chinese language skills and explore ways to assist the SAU computer science program. She is most excited about the teaching aspect of the SAU position as she hopes one day to be a part of education programs that serve low-income, prospective first-generation college students. 

Lissette Lorenz has been selected for the fellowship at J.F. Oberlin University in Machida, Japan. She will graduate in May with a major in environmental studies. She is writing an honors thesis on the use of community-based theater as a tool for empowering environmental justice communities. She has received a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellowship to support her research, which is strongly tied to her volunteer work at Save Our Children in Elyria, Ohio, where she teaches Theater of the Oppressed [2](TO) to youth. In 2011, Lorenz was in Japan on the Kansai Gaidai program and was there during the Tohoku earthquake/tsunami disaster in March. She hopes to further her knowledge of Japan and Japanese culture and to conduct TO workshops both at J.F. Oberlin and in the Tohoku region as a means of supporting the rebuilding process. She sees her volunteer efforts in the post-disaster Tohoku area as extremely important to her interests in addressing environmental issues by using community-based theater for positive social change. Her teaching experience includes volunteering at Harrison Cultural Community Center in Lorain, Ohio, where she teaches beginner’s level Japanese to first- through third-grade elementary school students. She has served as a private English tutor in Japan and has also been a teaching assistant in a fifth grade class there. Some of her other interests include dancing of all kinds, including swing, contra, salsa, and merengue. She is excited to share her Latino heritage and culture with her students in Japan through dance, Spanish, and food.

Christina James has been selected for the fellowship at Jagori Grameen, a non-governmental organization in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India. James graduated with a double degree from the college and conservatory in May 2010. She majored in gender, sexuality and feminist studies and vocal performance with a minor in law and society. James served as a Fulbright Fellow (English Teaching Assistant) from August 2010 to May 2011 in Limboto, Gorontalo, Indonesia. She recently finished an internship as an English teacher and consultant at Peduli Anak Foundation in Lombok, Indonesia. While at Oberlin, James was an HIV Peer Testing Program coordinator and a peer health advocate for the Center for Leadership in Health Promotion. She also worked as a political organizing intern for the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts for two summers. She has spent time abroad in Ghana, Italy, and the Czech Republic, and has studied Spanish, Indonesian, Italian, French, and German. James is interested in working with Jagori on various projects related to health education and women’s empowerment. She hopes one day to be a foreign service officer for the U.S. Department of State.

Naila Paul is going to Madurai, Tamil Nadu, in south India. She will volunteer at the Study Center for Indian Literature in English and Translation on the campus of the American College. Paul will graduate in May with a double major in comparative literature and Hispanic studies, and minors in politics and Middle East and North African studies. She has spent time studying abroad in Spain and Morocco. In addition to studying Spanish, Paul has taught Arabic as an Arabic residential advisor at the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy in July 2011, and as an Arabic teaching assistant and tutor at Oberlin. She has studied Arabic at Georgetown University, the University of Córdoba in Spain, and the Arabic Language Institute in Fes, Morocco. At Oberlin, she is the secretary and former cochair of the Muslim Student Association, and a member of the South Asian Student Association and Oberlin Friendship Initiative. A member of Third World Co-op, she has worked as a cook, bread maker, and dessert maker. Paul has also pursued Persian calligraphy, creative writing, and viola performance at Oberlin. She is interested in inter-linguistic contact, identity politics, and connecting with her family heritage in India and Pakistan. She also speaks Urdu.

“The state of Tamil Nadu, where Madurai is located, has a rich history of struggle within India to retain its unique cultural and linguistic identity, and I am really interested in learning more about the politics of language hierarchies and dominance in the region,” says Paul, who will begin studying the Tamil language this summer. “I am really excited about studying Tamil, because it is so completely foreign to me in a way that my previous studies of Spanish and Arabic have not been. As a native English speaker, I feel that learning Spanish was relatively simple, and likewise, Arabic shares a number of cognates and similar sounds and script with Urdu, another language that I grew up hearing from my parents.”

Paul says she is also eager to learn art forms that are particular to southern India. “I have always been fascinated by India´s cottage industries, particularly the apparel and textile industry, and the many skilled artisans capable of embroidering intricate designs of thread, beads, and metalwork onto fabric. I have played viola for many years and learned some flamenco guitar while studying abroad in Spain, and I would also love to take up a new instrument in India and learn its distinct musical traditions.”

Cory Rogers has been selected for the fellowship to Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He will graduate in May with a double degree in history from the college and jazz performance from the conservatory. His main interest is jazz percussion. He was intrigued by Yogyakarta because of its strong musical traditions. While at Oberlin he has served as a research assistant for Gary Kornblith and Carol Lasser, helping to analyze 19th-century census and tax information and researching archived newspaper collections. He has also worked with the George Dick Collection in the Oberlin College Archives. In the summer of 2010, he participated in the American Democratic Culture Partnerships[3],, an ongoing program that brings together college students from Israel, Palestine and Oberlin for an investigation of American democratic culture. Rogers also spent three weeks in January 2011 in Beijing, where he taught in area high schools and performed in numerous clubs as part of a group project entitled Jazz meets East: Oberlin Jazz in Beijing, China. He has interned at the Lineberger Cancer Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and apprenticed as a stonemason during the summers of 2008 and 2009. In summer 2011, alongside fellow Obie Sam Lawrence, Rogers completed a cross-country bike trip that began in his home state of North Carolina and ended in San Francisco. Cory hopes to explore pop and traditional music while in Indonesia and is very interested in volunteer teaching in the Center for Cross Cultural Religion Studies.

“Yogyakarta is a center of Indonesian culture, and has especially strong ties to traditional Gamelan music,” Rogers says. “I am excited to learn about this art form and also to explore the folk styles which thrive on the island of Java. I expect to incorporate what I learn into my own music making while also spreading my own experience with and knowledge of American music by collaborating with other artists.”

Santino Merino, who will graduate in May with a degree in English literature and composition, has been selected for the fellowship to Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. A varsity cross country and track and field member with a passion for writing, he has contributed to Wilder Voice and has worked as a staff writer for the Oberlin Review. He has worked as a writing associate at the Oberlin Writing Center since his third year, and has recently become a volunteer Spanish in the Elementary Schools (SITES teacher), teaching Spanish to kindergartners at Eastwood Elementary School in Oberlin. In his spare time, he loves learning about photography and dance. As a former English as a second language student, Merino understands the struggles faced by those learning English and will use that experience to inform his teaching. He hopes to immerse himself in Indonesian culture and share his love of American pop culture with those he meets abroad.Eight graduating seniors will head to Asia this summer, where they will spend up to two years learning language and culture as Oberlin Shansi fellows.

 

The highly selective fellowships place Oberlin graduates with partner institutions in China, India, Indonesia, and Japan for two years. Shansi is an independent, nonprofit organization that operates on the Oberlin campus. The goal of the Shansi program is to promote understanding and communication between Asians and Americans through individual and group educational programs and community projects. Founded in 1908, it is one of the oldest educational exchange programs in the United States.  

Shansi provides grants to send Oberlin graduates and undergraduates to Asia to work and study, provides grants for on-campus initiatives that broaden understanding of Asian and Asian American issues, facilitates collaboration between Oberlin faculty and Asian faculty, and invites Asian scholars to Oberlin for research and study.

The 2012-14 fellows will be joining Peter Edmondson and Matt Furda in Japan, Jazmin Guerrero in India, Sara Kadi and Zoe McLaughlin in Indonesia, and Claire McGregor and Skylar Sweetman in China. All are 2011 Oberlin graduates.

The three fellows going to China are Ricardo Barrios, Amelea Kim, and Veronica Colegrove. Lissette Lorenz will teach at J.F. Oberlin University in Machida, Japan; Christina James and Naila Paul have been selected for fellowships in India; and Cory Rogers and Santino Merino will go to Indonesia.

Ricardo Barrios '12 majored in politics and East Asian studies. He was selected for the Beijing Normal University fellowship. Barrios attended the Associated Colleges in China Program at Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing from January to August 2010. He served as an assistant in the Office of Puerto Rican Sen. Eduardo Bhatia twice — once as a winter term project and again during the summer of 2011.

Barrios also served as a Spanish tutor and translator for Oberlin’s Department of Hispanic Studies and has recently joined Oberlin’s Spanish in the Elementary Schools (SITES) program, where he taught elementary school students his vernacular Spanish. As the retiring NCAA captain of the OC Fencing Club (Flaming Blades), he is an A-rated epeeist and taught the fencing Experimental College (ExCo) course for two years. He is a four-year recipient of the John F. Oberlin Scholarship. Barrios is interested in Chinese calligraphy and culture, foreign languages, good coffee, and Latin dancing.

“I want to create a bond that runs deeper than scholarly study,” Barrios says. “To spend a full year learning and living China is something incredible. The mere thought of going all the way across the globe to China was something unthinkable only a couple of centuries ago, and I am acutely aware of this. The fact that I have also been selected to represent such an incredible organization as Shansi, and the countries of the United States and Puerto Rico on top of that, are also very important to me. I always make it a point to bring a bit of Puerto Rico with me wherever I go. I love my heritage, my culture, and my people, and, given our small size, it’s up to people like me to build the image foreigners may have of us.

“In the end, though, I know I will do my best to fulfill Shansi's mission — “to promote understanding and communication between Asians and Americans” — and I will have a blast doing it!”

Amelea Kim '12 majored in East Asian studies. Her fellowship is at Shanxi Agricultural University (SAU) in Taigu, China. Although her concentration is on Japan, she has also studied Korean history and politics as well as Chinese history. Kim was a three-year Japanese student, although she occasionally ventured off the Asian continent with a few Spanish literature courses. She has not yet studied Chinese, and she is filled with equal parts trepidation and excitement at the notion of starting a new language. Kim served as cochair of Oberlin College Taiko, and she was a teaching assistant to the Intermediate English as a Second Language class at Oberlin. As student coordinator of the Student Friends of the Library, she often collaborated with Ray English, Oberlin's director of libraries, and she was the student assistant of Ed Vermue, special collections librarian.

Veronica Colegrove '12 will also be at Shanxi Agricultural University (SAU). She double majored in computer science and Latin. Colegrove has studied Chinese and ancient Greek. At Oberlin, she served as a tutor/mentor in the Ninde Scholars Program and was a cochair and treasurer of the Liberated Unitarian Universalist Voices. She also volunteered with the Interfaith Hospitality Network and worked at Head Start Preschool with America Reads. She previously spent a month in China, where she tutored in English, and is eager to develop her Chinese language skills and explore ways to assist the SAU computer science program. She is most excited about the teaching aspect of the SAU position as she hopes one day to be a part of education programs that serve low-income, prospective first-generation college students.

Lissette Lorenz '12 was selected for the fellowship at J.F. Oberlin University in Machida, Japan. She majored in environmental studies. She wrote an honors thesis on the use of community-based theater as a tool for empowering environmental justice communities. She received a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellowship to support her research, which is strongly tied to her volunteer work at Save Our Children in Elyria, Ohio, where she taught Theater of the Oppressed (TO) to youth. In 2011, Lorenz was in Japan on the Kansai Gaidai program and was there during the Tohoku earthquake/tsunami disaster in March. She hopes to further her knowledge of Japan and Japanese culture and to conduct TO workshops both at J.F. Oberlin and in the Tohoku region as a means of supporting the rebuilding process. She sees her volunteer efforts in the post-disaster Tohoku area as extremely important to her interests in addressing environmental issues by using community-based theater for positive social change. Her teaching experience includes volunteering at Harrison Cultural Community Center in nearby Lorain, where she taught beginner’s level Japanese to first- through third-grade elementary school students. She has served as a private English tutor in Japan and has also been a teaching assistant in a fifth grade class there. Some of her other interests include dancing of all kinds, including swing, contra, salsa, and merengue. She is excited to share her Latino heritage and culture with her students in Japan through dance, Spanish, and food.

Christina James '10 was selected for the fellowship at Jagori Grameen, a non-governmental organization in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India. James graduated with a double degree from the college and conservatory in May 2010. She majored in gender, sexuality and feminist studies and vocal performance with a minor in law and society. James served as a Fulbright Fellow (English Teaching Assistant) from August 2010 to May 2011 in Limboto, Gorontalo, Indonesia. She recently finished an internship as an English teacher and consultant at Peduli Anak Foundation in Lombok, Indonesia. While at Oberlin, James was an HIV Peer Testing Program coordinator and a peer health advocate for the Center for Leadership in Health Promotion. She also worked as a political organizing intern for the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts for two summers. She has spent time abroad in Ghana, Italy, and the Czech Republic, and has studied Spanish, Indonesian, Italian, French, and German. James is interested in working with Jagori on various projects related to health education and women’s empowerment. She hopes one day to be a foreign service officer for the U.S. Department of State.

Naila Paul '12 is going to Madurai, Tamil Nadu, in south India. She will volunteer at the Study Center for Indian Literature in English and Translation on the campus of the American College. Paul double majored in comparative literature and Hispanic studies, and minors in politics and Middle East and North African studies. She has spent time studying abroad in Spain and Morocco. In addition to studying Spanish, Paul has taught Arabic as an Arabic residential advisor at the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy in July 2011, and as an Arabic teaching assistant and tutor at Oberlin. She has studied Arabic at Georgetown University, the University of Córdoba in Spain, and the Arabic Language Institute in Fes, Morocco. At Oberlin, she was the secretary and former cochair of the Muslim Student Association, and a member of the South Asian Student Association and Oberlin Friendship Initiative. A member of Third World Co-op, she worked as a cook, bread maker, and dessert maker. Paul also pursued Persian calligraphy, creative writing, and viola performance at Oberlin. She is interested in inter-linguistic contact, identity politics, and connecting with her family heritage in India and Pakistan. She also speaks Urdu.

“The state of Tamil Nadu, where Madurai is located, has a rich history of struggle within India to retain its unique cultural and linguistic identity, and I am really interested in learning more about the politics of language hierarchies and dominance in the region,” says Paul, who will begin studying the Tamil language this summer. “I am really excited about studying Tamil, because it is so completely foreign to me in a way that my previous studies of Spanish and Arabic have not been. As a native English speaker, I feel that learning Spanish was relatively simple, and likewise, Arabic shares a number of cognates and similar sounds and script with Urdu, another language that I grew up hearing from my parents.”

Paul says she is also eager to learn art forms that are particular to southern India. “I have always been fascinated by India´s cottage industries, particularly the apparel and textile industry, and the many skilled artisans capable of embroidering intricate designs of thread, beads, and metalwork onto fabric. I have played viola for many years and learned some flamenco guitar while studying abroad in Spain, and I would also love to take up a new instrument in India and learn its distinct musical traditions.”

Cory Rogers '12 has been selected for the fellowship to Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He received a double degree in history from the college and jazz performance from the conservatory. His main interest is jazz percussion. He was intrigued by Yogyakarta because of its strong musical traditions. While at Oberlin Rogers has served as a research assistant for Gary Kornblith and Carol Lasser, helping to analyze 19th-century census and tax information and researching archived newspaper collections. He has also worked with the George Dick Collection in the Oberlin College Archives. In the summer of 2010, he participated in the American Democratic Culture Partnerships, an ongoing program that brings together college students from Israel, Palestine and Oberlin for an investigation of American democratic culture. Rogers also spent three weeks in January 2011 in Beijing, where he taught in area high schools and performed in numerous clubs as part of a group project entitled Jazz meets East: Oberlin Jazz in Beijing, China. He has interned at the Lineberger Cancer Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and apprenticed as a stonemason during the summers of 2008 and 2009. In summer 2011, alongside fellow Obie Sam Lawrence, Rogers completed a cross-country bike trip that began in his home state of North Carolina and ended in San Francisco. Cory hopes to explore pop and traditional music while in Indonesia and is very interested in volunteer teaching in the Center for Cross Cultural Religion Studies.

“Yogyakarta is a center of Indonesian culture, and has especially strong ties to traditional Gamelan music,” Rogers says. “I am excited to learn about this art form and also to explore the folk styles which thrive on the island of Java. I expect to incorporate what I learn into my own music making while also spreading my own experience with and knowledge of American music by collaborating with other artists.”

Santino Merino '12, who majored in English literature and composition, has been selected for the fellowship to Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. A varsity cross country and track and field member with a passion for writing, he contributed to Wilder Voice and worked as a staff writer for the Oberlin Review. He worked as a writing associate at the Oberlin Writing Center, and he was a volunteer Spanish in the Elementary Schools (SITES teacher), teaching Spanish to kindergartners at Eastwood Elementary School in Oberlin. In his spare time, he loves learning about photography and dance. As a former English as a second language student, Merino understands the struggles faced by those learning English and will use that experience to inform his teaching. He hopes to immerse himself in Indonesian culture and share his love of American pop culture with those he meets abroad.

More stories and profiles about current Shansi fellows are on the Oberlin Shansi website.


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