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.
After my freshman year, I spent a summer in China with Princeton in Asia’s
Summer of Service program (SoS). It was an amazing experience that not only had me teaching in rural Hunan for eight weeks, but also got me travel time in Qinghai, Gansu, and Guangxi provinces. These trips opened my eyes to a country that was far more complex and compelling than my textbooks had ever indicated, and I decided I had to go back. After my sophomore year, I went back to Hunan through co-leading the Summer of Service program, also getting a chance to visit Guizhou province.
My junior year, I turned to my academic study of China in earnest. After all my time travelling around the country, I had a deep interest in tourism, and I wrote my fall junior paper on the portrayal of Guangzhou in domestic tourism magazines. I also have an abiding interest in film and literature, so I wrote my spring junior paper on the transformation of an Internet novel into a film. That project was certainly a challenge for me, as it exposed me to new cultural issues and vocabulary not usually encountered in the classroom.
Looking forward, I am excited for another summer in China before the start of my senior year. I am writing two theses, one for EAS and one for Creative Writing, but both have ties to China. Besides doing research for theses through a grant from the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, I will be doing an internship in Suzhou, and also making a film I wrote that was selected by Beijing International Screenwriting Competition as a grand prize winner.