The Stanley Spector and Richard Yang Undergraduate Student Award allows students in East Asian Languages and Cultures to conduct study in East Asia or on an East Asian topic. This fund was founded by WashU alumnus Alex Primm and his wife, Cathy, to foster cross-cultural understanding by creating unique experiences for students of East Asian languages outside of the classroom. Through this program students can pursue projects that enrich their academic study of East Asia, including attending an academic conference, studying abroad, participating in an internship, or doing community outreach with an East Asian focus.
The Summer 2022 cohort of Stanley Spector and Richard Yang Award recipients share their experiences.
Sophia Dutton, who is a second major in Japanese, undertook research in Japan for her senior honors thesis “Seeking Remedies through Kampo and Religious Rites: Japanese Women and Medicine in Contemporary Japan.” While in Japan, she traveled to religious sites relating to women’s health where she learned the significance of amulets (omamori) and other religious items that protect women during pregnancy. She also interviewed obgyn doctors who spoke to her about women’s health in Japan and about the practice of Kampo. Sophia’s summer has made her “even more excited about my interest in Japanese and my goal of becoming a doctor.”
Nico Guillen, a major in East Asian Languages and Cultures, received an award to attend the 74th Japan-America Student Conference, which was held in New York City, Washington D.C., and Annapolis. As one of 30 US and 30 Japanese university students, he toured the United Nations, attended lectures at businesses and universities, and met politicians at a reception at the Japanese embassy. The group engaged in roundtables and a denuclearization negotiation simulation. Nico says the experience “has been crucial in furthering my understanding and study of East Asia.”
Ellie Lee, an English major who also studies Korean, spent the summer in South Korea where she took a six-week course at Yonsei University, learning about the North Korean defector crisis, UN systems, international civil society, and methodology for running a human rights organization. Ellie also volunteered at the opening chapter of a convention called One-Hada where she says their discussions on reunification and humanitarian aid in North Korea “inspired me to continue studying North Korean human rights and politics.”
Sarah Rider, a Global Asias major focusing on Chinese, studied abroad for 10 weeks through the CET Taiwan program in Taipei, Taiwan, which included intensive Chinese language study at National Taiwan University’s Chinese Language Division. In addition to language training, she pursued her research interests in dance and performing arts through an internship with Bare Feet Dance Theater. Sarah will incorporate the knowledge she gained from her summer experiences into her senior thesis which focuses on the legacy of traditional Chinese dance in Taiwan from the kominka Japanese colonial period to the contemporary era, and addresses questions of how traditional Chinese dance is used in dance performances to negotiate ethnic, cultural, and/or political identities in Taiwan.
Sarah Del Carmen Camacho, who is minoring in Chinese, used her award to visit libraries at Princeton University to research the effects of Chinese-funded development projects on Central American populations which she will use for her senior honor thesis. Through her archival research experience, Sarah learned to work with host institutions and make new connections. She developed document management strategies so she could best utilize her time while researching at host institutions.