The Year of the Monkey has been extremely fortuitous for the East Asian Studies at Trinity (EAST) program. This February, EAST conferred 11 scholarships and grants to students participating in one of Trinity’s summer programs in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Zhuhai, China. The scholarships come as EAST embarks on its latest faculty-led study abroad course—the Ecological Civilization in China (EcoCiv) program.
EcoCiv will be held at United International College (UIC) in Zhuhai, located in the Pearl River Delta region of China. Researching environmental issues, students from Trinity, Southwestern University, and UIC will study together in class and will also participate conjointly in fieldwork. Six students from UIC will attend the EcoCiv program through a grant from the J.K. Lee Family Foundation. Those students will receive Trinity course credit that will transfer to their institution. The funds also enable Trinity students to pay for travel expenses to Zhuhai. Some UIC students will travel to Trinity in July to conduct research in the Center for the Sciences and Innovation.
Stephen Field, the J.K. and Ingrid Lee Professor of Chinese, is a co-director of EAST and travels to China each summer to oversee programming. He says the initial EcoCiv grant will help bring about a true exchange where students from each country will study at the other’s campus.
“This grant is an investment in our innovative educational methodology,” Field says. “This one piece of money has already helped so many students.”
Existing programs, like the China in the City Program and the Shanghai Program, send students to Lingnan University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University respectively, two of Trinity’s Chinese sister schools. The Shanghai Program, entering its fifth year, enrolls students in a two-week course on contemporary China before they begin one-month internships with businesses in Shanghai. To help defray the expenses of attending, three Shanghai Program students will receive Field Fellowships. During the China in the City program, students participate in service learning workshops at Lingnan, the only public liberal arts college in Hong Kong. This program, in its eighth year of operation, is funded by Trinity alumnus Donald Kurtti ’80.
The Trinity Chinese program in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, which originated in 1990, currently employs four full time Ph.D. professors of Chinese. It offers the Bachelor of Arts in Chinese. EAST, an interdisciplinary program established in 2006, offers the Bachelor of Science in Chinese Studies. For many students in EAST, the opportunity to study abroad in Asia is a critical component of their education. Yet, for some, financial reasons can make it prohibitive.
“What we want is to get students to China who would not necessarily go, because once you get a student abroad it will change their life forever,” Field says. “Some students know zero about China when they first go, but all students come back as experts.”