Eight graduates representing at least seven majors will spend two years as Oberlin Shansi fellows in countries across Asia.
Oberlin Shansi is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes understanding and communication between Oberlin and Asia through partnerships with universities and nongovernmental organizations across Asia. Since 1917, more than 400 Oberlin graduates have been awarded Shansi fellowships.
The Shansi two-year fellowship provides the opportunity for long-term, immersive, cross-cultural exchange. “The long-term portion is critical,” emphasized Gavin Tritt, Oberlin Shansi executive director. “Spending two years on these fellowships allows far more depth than is possible in just one year. Fellows are able to build language fluency, cross-cultural skills, and lasting relationships with colleagues, friends, and students.”
This year’s fellows represent a range of majors, including East Asian studies, environmental studies, creative writing, neuroscience, anthropology, psychology, and history.
“This is a wonderfully accomplished, diverse, and committed group,” stated Tritt. “They have strong service and teaching backgrounds, which will serve them well in their two-year fellowships.”
The newly-selected fellows are Brendan Nuse ’17, Aliya Tuzhilin ’17, Kayla Johnston-Mitchell ’17, Hyacinth Parker ’17, Franklin Sussman ‘17, Olivia Hay ‘17, Lyric Grimes ’17, and Peter D’Auria ’14. The fellows will live and work at Shansi’s partner institutions in China, India, Indonesia, and Japan. They will join nine other fellows who will begin the second year of their Shansi fellowship in Asia.
As an East Asian studies major studying Japanese, Shansi fellow Christopher Nguyen ’15 has spent the past year teaching English in Japan. “I knew the best way to improve my language ability and cultural understanding of the area was was to live in Japan,” said Nguyen. “The fellowship seemed to be a perfect opportunity to experience life in Japan after graduation, and learn about my own personal and career-related interests related to the region.”
Through the fellowship, Nguyen not only gained professional and interpersonal skills, but also developed a deeper cultural understanding of Japan that he might otherwise not have. “As my first job after graduation, I have learned what it is like to work in a professional setting, communicating and coordinating with other full-time and part-time teachers. I have become far more comfortable in front of a classroom, and I have learned so much about work culture in Japan.”
While abroad, Nguyen has also found ways to incorporate himself into the community through cultural activities like taiko drumming and Eisa, a traditional dance from Okinawa that he practices. “By meeting many different people through these activities and traveling to other countries in Asia, my mindset about the world has just opened far more than it ever could have by only living in the United States.”
At the conclusion of his fellowship, Nguyen hopes to secure employment and stay in Japan. “I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of Oberlin College graduates who are living in Japan,” said Nguyen. “After making their acquaintance earlier this year, they have been helping me figure out how I might be able to remain in Japan after the fellowship. Thanks to everyone’s encouragement and advice, I am feeling more optimistic about continuing life my here.”