Current Students

Emma Toh

Emma Toh

Class of 2020

Adams House

My experience with East Asian Studies has been incredibly enriching because of the personal relationships I have established with professors and classmates. I looked forward to seeing my teachers and peers in Korean every morning. Our class was a closely knit community, and it was so exciting to see each other’s progress and to grow together. This inspired me to take courses on traditional Korean history, postwar Korean history and film, and social change in modern Korea. It has been very meaningful for me to learn about my heritage through readings, archival research, debates, discussions, and experience abroad.

 

The summer after my freshman year, I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to attend Harvard Summer School in Seoul for eight weeks. In addition to a Korean language course, I took a class on Postwar Korean History Through the Lens of Film. This was my first time visiting Korea and traveling on my own. I loved exploring (and getting lost), trying unfamiliar and delicious foods, and engaging in conversations with so many different, interesting people. Since I had taken a Korean history course during the spring semester, it was especially exciting to visit the palaces, city walls, and other sites that I had read about. I hope to have the opportunity to travel and study abroad again in the future.

 

As a joint concentrator in Statistics and East Asian Studies, I look forward to exploring ways to connect my different interests. Quantitative analysis opens up a wide variety of possibilities and I hope to find a relevant way to use math and statistics to study an aspect of Korea’s society, economy, or history.

Miranda Tyson

Miranda Tyson

Class of 2018

Dunster House

As with many interested in East Asian Studies, my first introduction to the topic came through one of the region's biggest exports— media. I built a very limited understanding of East Asia through Korean and Chinese dramas and Japanese anime, but upon arriving at Harvard, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to expand my understanding of the region as a whole. Here, you can take classes ranging from general survey courses about East Asia to ones that focus on the abstract concept of femininity in the Japanese context. My favorite part of the EAS department is the faculty— everyone here is so passionate about sharing their love of East Asia with you, and exploring ways to apply what one learns in class across multiple disciplines. The department is flexible and supportive every step of the way, and I am forever grateful to be a part of it!

In addition to EAS, I have also dabbled in physics and gender studies, and through classes and Harvard resources I have managed to find amusing ways of combining the three. For example, the summer after my sophomore year I conducted an internship in the Public Relations department of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and during that internship I interviewed three female JAXA employees on their experience as women in the aerospace industry.

On campus, I am involved in the International Relations Council (IRC) and the Harvard College Japan Initiative (HCJI). Both organizations have provided me with the opportunity to delve more deeply into East Asia, be it through discussing regional politics via Model United Nations simulations in the IRC or interacting with Japanese high school students through HCJI's cultural exchange programs. But aside from these more academic extracurricular activities, I am also a former figure skater and a member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Modern Dance Company (HRMDC) and Expressions.

Richard Yarrow at Tsinghua

Richard Yarrow

Class of 2019

Lowell House

Studying and gaining experiences with a diverse range of cultures is crucial for understanding the world, for promoting global peace and prosperity, and for seeing core pieces of one’s own life and surroundings outside of the lens one grew up with. This is especially true for American students in modern China. China presents greatly different cultures, politics, and contemporary problems than what many American students are used to. China, with its enormous size and rapid transformations, also demonstrates cutting-edge approaches to a wide range of global challenges, from poverty reduction and economic development to educational and environmental reform. These factors, along with the great depth and history of East Asian cultural and philosophical traditions, motivate me to engage with East Asian Studies.

This past summer, with support from the Harvard Asia Center, I studied trends and strategies in post-1980s Chinese urbanization at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Later, I also attended a series of conferences in Chengdu and Gao County, Sichuan Province, and travelled in Hangzhou and Nanjing. During my time in China, I was able to interact with journalists, professors, artists, business people, government officials, and students from across the country. This provided an opportunity for me to witness different sides of modern Chinese society and to learn about other social science disciplines outside of my Harvard coursework. My experiences have inspired me to return to East Asia in the future, and to deepen my study of East Asian history and culture on campus.

amanda zhang

Amanda Zhang 

Class of 2018

Dunster House

Discovering East Asian Studies is one of the great serendipities of my life. During sophomore year, my Chinese teacher encouraged me to participate in a Harvard China Fund internship. Although my heritage is Chinese, I had never been to China before that summer. Those few weeks in Shenzhen (and nearby Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore and Hanoi) showed me that I had a connection to an incredible culture and kindled a love for Asia that I now consider to be a core part of my identity. Since coming back, I have enriched my math and science course load with classes in anthropology, history, and philosophy naturally coalescing into an EAS secondary.

As an Applied Math concentrator pursuing medical school, I was surprised at how EAS appeared in seemingly unrelated aspects of my life. At an internship with Boston Children’s Hospital, I used my knowledge of Chinese to read news articles to assess the mobile health market in China. Currently, as part of the Yan Xin Life Science Technology Club, I tie together ideas I learned in Professor Puett’s course Classical Chinese Ethical and Political Theory (ER 18) to reflect on how we can live healthier and happier lives. In my gap year after graduation, I hope to teach Chinese language and culture as elective classes in underserved schools. I am certain that EAS will continue to be a core part of life and identity beyond college.