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East Asian Studies

Name: Xiange Zeng

Year: Class of 2016

Hometown: Wuhan, China

Majors: East Asian Studies and Public Health

Why I Love Hopkins’ East Asian Studies

Hello everyone! My name is Xiange Zeng.  Yes, X-i-a-n-g-e is my first name. Want to know how to pronounce it correctly? Well, you can take Chinese with Hopkins’ very best East Asian Studies department, and I promise that you will be able to pronounce my name without fail!

All jokes aside, there are more than enough reasons to be part of the EAS community at Hopkins, and I am here to tell you a few of them.

I came in as an East Asian Studies major. Back then, I was not very sure if that was what I wanted to major in, especially when almost everyone around me was a science major of some kind. In the midst of my hesitation and doubt, I fell in love with a class called International Relations in East Asia. This class opened my eyes to the many sensitive (historical) issues in East Asia, the perspectives of different countries on those issues, and the central question of what it means to have “sovereignty.” Through this class, I was able to learn the roots to current conflicts such as the Senkaku/Diaoyu Island dispute, the American military presence in Okinawa, the “Comfort Women” in Korea, and many more. I became especially interested in learning Japanese history and Sino-Japanese relations. This interest complemented my Japanese language study very well. I have to say that Japanese is one of my all-time favorite classes at Hopkins. The class is fun, relaxing, and you learn so much in one semester without even realizing it. The senseis are also extremely nice and funny. I would recommend this class to anyone!

First Year Japanese Dinner at Niwana with Yuki-Sensei

First Year Japanese Dinner at Niwana with Yuki-Sensei

Once I discovered my interest in learning more about Japan, I got the opportunity to apply for the 65th Japan-America Student Conference through an email from my Japanese Professor Yuki Johnson, who also wrote a recommendation letter for me. I was accepted and had the chance to go to Japan this past August as an American delegate. During this conference, I traveled with the delegation to Kyoto, Nagasaki, Iwate, and Tokyo. I had the chance to participate in the Nagasaki Peace Ceremony, visit Fukushima and the shore where the 2011 tsunami hit, network with prominent individuals such as Senator John McCain, Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Kurt Tong, Diet Member Shinjiro Koizumi, and other governors and standing businessmen. I also was immersed in the Japanese culture by visiting different World Heritage sites, going to the local farmer’s market, and doing homestay with a fellow Japanese delegate. My favorite part of the entire conference, however, was spending time with the Japanese and American delegates I got to meet. They were truly student leaders from all across both countries. Because we got to spend an entire month doing almost everything together, all of us grew very close and keep in touch regularly even now.

The 65th JASC Delegation

The 65th JASC Delegation

At the end of the conference, I along with seven other American delegates and eight other Japanese delegates were elected to be the executive committee for the 66th conference. We are now in charge of planning and leading the next conference, which will be held in America. With this huge responsibility, the EAS department has given me plenty of support! Before coming to Hopkins, I had never dreamed of having a close-knit community of students and professors who are willing to help you with your studies and extracurriculars, but the EAS department has exceeded my expectations in every way! Without the support of various professors, I would not have been able to attend the conference in the first place. Without their help now, I would not have been able to tell Hopkins students about the next conference. I am truly grateful for all of their advice and help.

Outside opportunities like this are not the only ones that the EAS department offers, however. In fact, we have many study abroad options such as spending a year in Tokyo University (the top university in Japan), a semester in Nanjing University in China, and other summer/semester-long programs in China, Japan, and South Korea. In order to accommodate the growing interest in China and students who are interested in the science field, the EAS department has a STEM program in China. The China STEM program is an eight-week long program during the summer where students are immersed in rigorous Chinese language training to increase their Chinese proficiency in the STEM fields. Students have the choice of studying either health sciences or engineering, both of which offer hands-on experiences in laboratories and research trips. Needless to say, the EAS department offers many opportunities for students here.

Hopkins STEM Class in China

Hopkins STEM Class in China

Another way that EAS supports its students is by providing conference travel and research funds. I attended the Mid-Atlantic Region Association for Asian Studies Conference this past semester and was able to receive enough conference funds from the department to cover all of my expenses! Furthermore, the EAS department has updated the major requirement to make EAS students even more competitive in the field while keeping its major flexibility. For example, I am able to double major in EAS and Public Health Studies, an unlikely combination, but nevertheless doable. The EAS department is also expanding its presence on campus by doing semester student-faculty dinners as well as New Year celebrations. Last spring, we had a very successful Chinese New Year celebration, inviting all students to join with EAS faculty to have delicious Chinese food and to watch several student performances. This semester, we hosted a Korean Fall Harvest celebration, carrying on the newly established EAS tradition. We can’t wait to have more interactive events in the semesters to come!

Dr. Chung and Yuki-Sensei with the EAS Student Advisory Board after the Korean Fall Harvest Dinner

Dr. Chung and Yuki-Sensei with the EAS Student Advisory Board after the Korean Fall Harvest Dinner

All in all, being part of the EAS community has definitely enriched my experience as a student here at Hopkins in many ways. I love this close-knit community, the support it offers, and the opportunities it presents. I hope that the few reasons I have shown you here have given you an idea of what the EAS department is all about. If you are interested in finding out more about us, it wouldn’t hurt to join us!

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Click here to access more information about the East Asian Studies Undergraduate Program of Study.

To further your exploration of this academic program and ask any question you may have of current students, be sure to visit the Hopkins Forums’ Academics: The Insider Perspective and the East Asian Studies question thread.