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.

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.