Travel Grant Series: Summer Language Study in Kunming, China

Spencer Austin-Martin, East-West Center Affiliate Student, received a Travel Grant from the East-West Center Alumni Association to help him participate in a summer language study program in Kunming, China.

Here is Spencer’s report from his experience.

August 26, 2010

Dear East-West Center Alumni Association,

I am writing to express my gratitude for your support via the EWCA Alumni Travel Grant which helped to offset the cost of my flight to Kunming, China where I undertook my summer language study program. I enjoyed a productive summer of intensive language study at Yunnan University and the opportunity to immerse myself in Chinese culture. I also was able to help facilitate two other UHM students in taking classes at Yunnan University. Jy Xiong, who you can see in the attached picture, is also an East-West Center Student Affiliate with whom I attend classes in the latter half of the summer semester.

Unfortunately Dr. Kate Zhou was unable come to Yunnan to facilitate the volunteer program I had mentioned when I applied for the grant. However, another opportunity arose as I was invited to present at the 5th Asian Graduate Forum on Southeast Asian Studies put on by the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore (NUS). As the only American presenters at the conference I had a chance to meet a diverse group of students from East Asia to talk about issues pertinent to Southeast Asia with my presentation being on ASEAN institutionalism. NUS paid for my flight down from Kunming and back as well as lodging which was quite helpful.

Overall the summer experience helped prime me for this coming fall semester which I will spend on exchange at National Taiwan University in Taipei. I am looking forward to comparing and contrasting mainland linguistics and culture with that of Taiwan while also exploring the dynamics of their political and economic relations and the impact this has on US interests in East Asia. I am also hoping to return to Yunnan after the end of the fall semester to visit with the Chinese friends I made during this trip. Some of them are recent graduates of Yunnan University who I have encouraged to check out opportunities for study abroad in the US and the EWC in particular. Thank you once again for your support in helping me pursue my academic objectives.

With Regards,

Spencer Austin-Martin