East Asian Studies Alumni Spotlight
Michael Katz '15
Despite studying Chinese in high school, East Asian Studies was not even in my top 20 major choices coming into college. Moreover, although I selected it as my major after sophomore year, I still had not taken a single EAS-listed class at Princeton. However, it was a natural choice. I had spent the summer after my freshman year doing Princeton in Beijing (PiB), Princeton’s intensive Chinese language immersion program. Then, I decided to intern in Beijing after sophomore year through Princeton’s International Internship Program (IIP).
When making my choice, I knew that EAS would satisfy my desire gain domain knowledge over highly contemporary subject matter. Through the EAS department curriculum, I have been able to discover more about subjects that I knew would interest me (e.g. Japanese culture) and those that I had no clue were intriguing (e.g. Chinese gender and sexuality). In my fall junior independent work, I explored the unique characteristics in Chinese web entrepreneurship that emerged after the economic reform, helping Chinese tech giants to conquer their international foes on Chinese soil. For my spring junior independent work, I looked at the effect of guanxi-based institutional business practices on Chinese failures in private M&A involving Western companies.
My senior thesis will focus on comparative trends in Chinese and American intellectual property infrastructures. Through the assistance of the department, I will be returning to China over winter break to interview subjects about how these changes have affected the Chinese innovation culture amidst high innovation aspirations from the government. Overall, the EAS department has both provided me with an amazing learning environment and equipped me with critical-thinking skills that will serve me well in any profession.
Cameron White '14
I came to the East Asian Studies Department in a somewhat roundabout way. I had taken Mandarin before coming to Princeton, but it wasn’t something that I knew I wanted to commit to in the long-run. However, during my freshman fall, I took courses in both modern Japanese literature and Chinese language. In both cases, the classes had only a few students and the instructors were very passionate, making a future with the department very appealing.
Margaret Wang '14
I was immediately drawn to EAS through the language department. As a native Shanghainese speaker, taking Chinese opened a lot of doors to my family's history. After taking my first Chinese language course in Princeton, which immediately became my favorite course, I explored contemporary Chinese society and culture with several other courses in Princeton. Eventually, I traveled to China for the first time through Princeton in Beijing. Forced to speak only Chinese for two months, this program really initiated my interest in East Asian Studies. Moreover, I also taught in Sichuan as a volunteer project immediately afterwards, which brought my attention to the education system in China.
Sasha Small '14
When I first came to Princeton from London, I had no clue what I'd end up majoring in. During my first semester here, I decided on a whim to take second-year Chinese. At the time, it seemed like an insignificant decision. But after I spent my first summer in China under the Princeton in Beijing program, I knew that I wanted to continue my study of Chinese language and culture as my major. The East Asian Studies department appealed to me because it includes such a large scope of subject matter within many different academic disciplines. I am focusing on Chinese language and linguistics -- in addition to my major, I look forward to pursuing a certificate in Translation and Intercultural Communication. This past summer, I worked as an intern in Shanghai. I am involved in Advertise This, Service in Style, PACT, Princyclopedia, and tutoring at the public library.
Mary Schulman '14
I had my heart set on majoring in East Asian Studies ever since I arrived at Princeton from Fairfield, CT. I studied Chinese in high school and helped teach the first- and second-year Chinese courses as a high school senior. I was fascinated by China’s uniquely ancient cultural heritage and the mechanics of the Chinese language—as a tonal language in which verbs are not conjugated and which often draws sharper distinctions between concrete and abstract nouns than between nouns and verbs, Chinese shapes and communicates ideas very differently than does English. The interdisciplinary nature of the East Asian Studies department and the excellence of the Chinese language program have been invaluable in my exploration of this theme. My independent research focuses on the concept of freedom in the Chinese intellectual tradition and incorporates both classical Chinese and Western philosophy. I am pursuing a certificate in Humanistic Studies due to the cross-cultural nature of my research; I have also studied language more broadly from evolutionary, neurological, and cultural perspectives.
Anna Lorentz '13
Kindergarten Friends From Tokyo Meet Again
Born to a Thai mother, I was born in Bangkok and lived there until I was four years old. My American father, a Princeton alum ('76) who studied Japanese as an EAS major, met my mother during his yearlong exchange in Japan. (My mother was attending university in Japan at the time.) My parents' common language is Japanese, as my father does not speak Thai and my mother did not speak English at the time, so the only place that really made sense to start a career and raise a family was Tokyo. When I was four years old, my family moved from Bangkok to Tokyo, where I attended international schools until the age of 18. My parents are still based in Japan, so it is nice to be able to go back and visit them.
I met Kendra in Kindergarten in Tokyo and we were close friends. After she moved to Arizona, however, it was difficult to be in constant communication, so we were both unaware until running into each other during our freshman year that we both enrolled at Princeton! It has been incredible having Kendra here as a fellow EAS major, and to be able to reconnect with her through the EAS department, being in the several of the same courses and even handing in our theses together.
David Willard '06