Congratulations to Molly Baker Halstead ’11, who recently completed her M.A. in art history at the University of Kentucky! Molly’s road to this educational milestone has taken her from her native West Virginia to Berea, Japan, New York City, and back again. Along the way, she studied in Japan through the KIIS program, assisted visiting scholar Dr. Sandy Kita in cataloging rare Japanese items in Berea College’s Asian art collection, worked for the Asia Society in New York City, served as curator and gallery manager at Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia’s David L. Dickirson Gallery, and spent a year as Assistant Curator of the College Art Collections and Manager of the Doris Ulmann Galleries here on campus. Presently, she serves as Engagement Services Manager at Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts. “It was a longer, windier road than I thought it would be,” says Molly, “but I’m so happy to have finally finished.”
Congratulations to Brandon Mitchell ’19, whose original musical composition has been selected to be performed at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Department of Technology and Applied Composition Showcase Concert! The January 24 performance will be livestreamed and then archived online at https://vimeo.com/481493641.
Brandon studied in Japan with Berea professors Dr. Lauren McKee and Dr. Jeff Richey through the Kentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS) on a U.S. Department of State Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship during the summer of 2018. He based his composition on Murakami Haruki 村上 春樹’s short story, “Super-Frog Saves Tokyo” as well as on his experience of visiting the Hiroshima Peace Bell during his time in Japan. Brandon is now enrolled as a graduate student in the Technology and Applied Composition Department at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he is studying under Lennie Moore. Upon completion of his studies, he hopes to work as a composer for film and video games and continue to travel the world and share his music with others.
Congratulations to Aaron Meadows ’12, who recently completed his M.S. in acupuncture studies at Shandong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine! Prior to undertaking this three-year, graduate-level program of traditional Chinese medical training, Aaron served in the U.S. Peace Corps in China for two years. Aaron serves as the chief editor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Quarterly, an online publication devoted to promoting Chinese medicine and culture abroad. “I went from zero knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine to an M.S. in medicine in a Chinese program,” says Aaron.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.!
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!
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.