Professor Martin Brings China to the Theatre

Dr. Deborah Martin

Dr. Deborah Martin, Chair and Professor of Theatre

At Berea College, it takes many hands to make a rich and vibrant Asian Studies curriculum happen for our students.  While not every department has trained Asianists among its faculty members, some departments work hard to make sure that our students benefit from a multicultural perspective on their field that includes Asia.  One such department is Theatre, whose chair, Professor Deborah Martin, has been accepted to participate in the Asian Studies Development Program’s “Infusing Modern China into the Undergraduate Curriculum” Institute.  This faculty development program, which originally was scheduled for summer 2020 but now has been postponed to summer 2021 due to pandemic concerns, aims to help educators develop curriculum materials and strategic plans for expanding undergraduate Chinese studies offerings on their campuses through a rich, multidisciplinary exploration of modern Chinese history, art, literature, religion, politics, and contemporary social dynamics.

Dr. Martin’s plans for her engagement with this program include creating a course that focuses on “ghost plays” in Chinese literature and opera.  “Using the ghost character will not only introduce our students to contemporary Chinese theatre and opera,” says Dr. Martin, “but it will also allow them to see how this character has been an element of more ancient forms of Chinese theatre and story-telling.  Certainly, the political and social changes of 20th century China will also enhance the study, giving our students a fuller context of why this character was so contentious and how it prevailed.”  As part of an upcoming theatre season that will feature a number of non-Western plays, Dr. Martin also hopes to direct a production of Gǎn tiān dòng dì Dòu É yuān 感天動地竇娥冤 (The Injustice to Dou E that Touched Heaven and Earth) by “China’s Shakespeare” Guān Hànqīng 關漢卿 (c. 1241-1320), which uses the motif of ghostly visitations to protest social injustice.

Madeline Kujabi ’21 to Present at 60th Annual SEC/AAS

Madeline posing in front of a brick wall

Madeline Kujabi ’21

The Asian Studies Department congratulates Madeline Kujabi ’21, whose paper “The Role of Traditional Dance in Cultures Experiencing ‘Compressed Modernity’” has been accepted for presentation at the 60th Annual Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies (SEC/AAS).  Due to pandemic concerns, the conference will be hosted virtually by the Carolina Asia Center at UNC-Chapel Hill from January 15-17, 2021.  Madeline’s presentation will be based on research undertaken for her Asian Studies and General Studies capstones as well as her experiences as a dancer and native of The Gambia. Well done, Madeline!

See You In Court, Ethan Chase ’17

Ethan Chase headshot

Ethan Chase ’17

The Asian Studies Department congratulates Ethan Johnson Chase ’17, who recently completed his J.D. at the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law and passed the Kentucky Bar Examination!  Like so many Berea graduates, Ethan is using his knowledge as power to change the world for the better.  Even before receiving his J.D. and passing the bar examination, Ethan was involved with legal efforts to win justice for the family of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by Louisville police officers in March 2020. Recalling the words of the late U.S. Representative John Lewis, who spoke at his Commencement ceremony in May 2017, Ethan says, “I believe Rep. John Lewis when he says it’s up to us to continue the work to which he dedicated his life. It’s up to us to continue the work of this stalwart champion in the on-going struggle to demand respect for the dignity and worth of every human being, to cause good trouble, to redeem the soul of America.”  We are very proud of you, Ethan!

Erica Berejnoi ’16 Earns Ph.D. in Sustainability

Erica Berejnoi

Erica Berejnoi ’16

In less than a month, Erica Berejnoi ’16 will defend her Ph.D. dissertation in Sustainability at Arizona State University.  This monumental educational achievement is a milestone in a journey of learning that began at Berea College, where she majored in Asian Studies and Business Administration.  As a Berea student, Erica spent time in China and discovered a love for Chinese culture that later blossomed into an exploration of holistic spiritual traditions that have informed her work as a scholar of sustainability.  “The classes I took on Asian Studies have helped me a lot during my time at the Ph.D. program at ASU,” says Erica, who has authored or co-authored six scholarly articles and one book chapter thus far. Her dissertation, entitled Dancing through the Inner Dimension of Sustainability: An Autoethnography, investigates the connections between sustainability, spirituality, and happiness – research that was supported, in part, by a Phi Kappa Phi Love of Learning Award.  She writes, “Sustainability goes beyond the numbers: you can see it at the table with the foods you eat (or do not have), on the streets with people and animals passing by (if you are fortunate to live in a place where you interact with animals outside the home), on your ability to get up from bed each day, or how you treat yourself and others…Sustainability is a journey we live every day.”  Congratulations, Erica!  We are very proud of you!

Tristan Lee Riven ’06 Wins Big at Taipei Game Show

Tristan Lee Riven ’06

Video game designer and entrepreneur Tristan Lee Riven ’06 and his Korean collaborator, artist Kim Minho, recently were honored at the 2020 Taipei Game Show in Taiwan.  Their company, South Korea-based Devespresso Games, won the “Best Narration” and “Grand Prix” awards for its game The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters.  A total of 141 game titles from 17 countries were entered in this year’s competition, of which only 30 games were nominated to compete for awards.  Congratulations, Tristan & co.!

All Four Berean Finalists Accepted by JET Program

Every year, a handful of Berea seniors and graduates apply for the highly competitive Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. Since 1987, more than 70,000 college and university graduates from all around the world have taught their native languages in Japan through the JET Program, which is administered by the Japanese government in cooperation with 38 other national governments. For most of that time, only one applicant from Berea has been successful each year.  In 2019, however, six Berea graduates were accepted by the program, setting a new record.  This year, all four finalists from Berea – graduating Asian Studies majors Myles Crain ’20, Dominique Jenkins ’20, and Jesse Paul ’20, along with graduating Asian Studies minor (and Computer Science major) Rusty Dotson ’20 – received offers of positions with JET.  Myles, Jesse, and Rusty will become Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs), helping to teach English in Japanese K-12 classrooms, while Dominique will take on an assignment as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR), which will entail duties as a translator and interpreter with a local government office in Japan.  Myles and Dominique prepared for their JET experiences by completing internships at the Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project (KEEP) in Berea’s sister region of Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan, while all four studied in East Asia as part of their Berea careers.  Congratulations and おめでとう to all!

An Early Farewell to the Class of 2020

AST Class of 2020

Due to the closure of campus on March 15 in response to COVID-19 concerns, the Asian Studies Department’s graduating class of 2020 had to make do with a hurried, informal celebration of their achievements.  Fortunately, Noodle Nirvana, a favorite Berea restaurant, was still open for on-site dining at the time and was able to host the farewell dinner.  Three graduating seniors – major Jesse Paul ’20 and minors Delaney Anderson ’20 and Sienna Burgess ’20 – also were inducted into Epsilon Alpha Sigma (EAΣ), the honor society for academic achievement in East Asian studies.

Continue reading An Early Farewell to the Class of 2020

The Asian Studies Department Congratulates Nicole Mangin ’19!

Nicole ManginOur sole December 2019 graduate is Nicole Mangin ’19, who has completed a double major in Asian Studies and Art History. Nicole anticipates going to graduate school for further training as an archivist. During her Berea experience, Nicole managed to spend two summers in Japan — first, as a student with the Kentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS) intensive program, primarily in Japan’s Kansai region, and then as an intern at the Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project (KEEP) in Japan’s Kantō region. We wish Nicole every success. 頑張ってください!

Joseph Leis ’18 Connects Japan and America

Joseph Leis '18The Asian studies Department recently heard from Joseph Shinji Leis ’18, who now works for Goken America, which serves clients in the automotive and aerospace industries, notably Honda Motor CompanyAlthough he originally was hired as a Japanese/English technical translator, his Portfolio has since expanded to include simultaneous Japanese/English interpretation, online journal writing, directing the company’s Japanese program, and teaching Japanese language. “My lack of engineering background and the industry jargon was a difficult hurdle to overcome in the beginning,” says Joseph, “but I now enjoy the more inter-relational aspects of my job, as I get to meet new people at every meeting at which I interpret and teach different business people who are preparing to go to Japan. I am grateful that I have a job that is related to what I studied, pays decently, impacts other’s lives for the better, and allows me to utilize my Japanese background.”

Joseph does not plan to remain in this field for the long term, however. With his brother, Benjamin Takeshi Leis ’22, Joseph has inaugurated a podcast about anime and manga entitled Tachi Yomi, which may be  heard on a variety of platforms such as iTunes, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. He also has developed an interest in chronicling the Japanese diaspora through a documentary film that will explore what it means to be “Japanese” through the eyes of ethnically-Japanese persons all over the world. Look for more news about this exciting project here over the next year or so!

UPDATE (November 7, 2019): Joseph has accepted a position as a Japanese/English translator and interpreter with PlayStation in San Diego, California!  He says, “As a kid, I remember dreaming of working in the gaming industry and imagining how cool it would be to be involved with the creation of games, but now that dream has come true. I am working with wonderful team members who are just as passionate as I am and the benefits certainly don’t hurt either.  Thank you to all my friends, family, professors, and mentors for your support. I would not have achieved anything in life if it were not for you. I would also like to express my deepest gratitude to all my co-workers at Honda R&D and Goken America. The time I spent at Honda was invaluable to me. I will not lie, it certainly was tough at times. But with the advice, training, and support from my coworkers, I was able to overcome many barriers and grow immensely as a professional. I am so grateful for the time and training invested in me and I will not forget all the lessons learned at Honda.”  おめでとうございます, Joseph!

Molly Baker Halstead ’11 Accepts Position at Centre College

Molly Baker Halstead

The Asian Studies Department congratulates Molly Baker Halstead ’11, who recently accepted a position as Engagement Services Manager at Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts!  Molly, who double-majored in Asian Studies and Art History at Berea, studied in Japan through the KIIS program and assisted visiting scholar Dr. Sandy Kita in cataloging rare Japanese items in the College’s Asian art collection during her years here. After three years of professional experience as Curator and Art Gallery Manager at Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia’s David L. Dickirson Gallery in her native West Virginia, Molly returned to Kentucky to complete her M.A. in Art History and Visual Studies at the University of Kentucky. During the 2018-19 academic year, Molly served as Assistant Curator of the College Art Collections and Manager of the Doris Ulmann Galleries here on campus, so we are delighted that she will continue to remain in the area after completing her work at Berea.