“The sky is the limit.” The familiar words of encouragement, spoken on the occasion of the Tazuko Ajiro Monane Award and Noma-Reischauer Prize Ceremony, personified this year’s recipients. The annual event, held last Friday on December 4th, honored four students for their exceptional achievements in fields related to the study of Japan. The ceremony is organized by the Japanese Language Program in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and the Reischauer Institute for Japanese Studies. Yuko Kageyama-Hunt, Senior Preceptor in Japanese, introduced Allejah Franco and Eagon Meng, the undergraduate recipients of the Monane award. Speaking from personal experience, she shared the idiom as an homage to Tazuko Monane, former Director of the JLP and namesake of the award, who used the saying to inspire her students. Upon accepting the awards in both Japanese and English, it was clear that limitations were of no concern for Franco and Meng, whose speeches demonstrated the highest proficiency in the language.
Allejah Franco '16, recipient of a Tazuko Ajiro Monane Award, poses with Professor Wesley Jacobsen
Eagon Meng '16, recipient of a Tazuko Ajiro Monane Award, poses with Professor Wesley Jacobsen
The Monane award is granted to students who have completed at least two years of Japanese language study at Harvard and show promise in applying the language professionally or academically in the future. Allejah Franco ’16, currently a student at the fifth-year level in Japanese, entered the program as a freshman and has since accomplished a record of perfect attendance for his Japanese language classes taught by Kageyama-Hunt. He first spent time in Japan two summers ago through the Princeton in Ishikawa Program and interned at a law firm in Shibuya last summer. Both experiences were “indispensable” to providing opportunities to hone his language skills. After graduating in May, Franco plans to study international law with a focus on U.S.-Japan relations. Eagon Meng ’16, another fifth-year student in Japanese and this year’s second recipient of the Monane award, thanked the JLP and his Japanese instructors over the years, the Reischauer Institute, and his family and friends for their support. He was especially gracious to the program for providing a welcoming community throughout his college career.
Following the Monane awards, Stacie Matsumoto, Interim Executive Director of the Reischauer Institute, announced the Noma-Reischauer prize recipients, Moeko Fujii and Stephanie Hsuan-Chia Chen. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the Noma-Reischauer Prizes in Japanese Studies, which are granted on an annual basis to the best essays on Japan-related topics written by Harvard students. Ms. Fujii’s senior thesis, “Orienting Virginia Woolf: Japonisme in To the Lighthouse, Orlando, and The Waves,” was written under the guidance of Professors Daniel Loss and Leah Price. Fujii ‘15, a History and Literature concentrator, became interested in the topic while taking a class on The Tale of Genji taught by EALC faculty Melissa McCormick. Her thesis explored the influence of Japonisme on Woolf’s prose, and specifically looked at form in her texts. The Noma-Reischauer graduate prize was awarded to Stephanie Hsuan-Chia Chen for her dissertation, “Marriage, Employment, and Fertility in Japan: The Effectiveness of Pronatalist Policies under a Gendered Social Reality.” Her paper analyzed women’s roles through marriage in Japan, cited a 2008 national survey, and drew comparisons to family policies in Sweden.
Moeko Fujii '15, winner of a Noma-Reischauer Prize in Japanese Studies, poses with her thesis advisor, Professor Daniel Loss
Professor Mary Brinton (left), and Stephanie Hsuan-Chia Chen, winner of a Noma-Reischauer Prize in Japanese Studies
After congratulatory remarks by Professor Wesley Jacobsen, Professor of the Practice of Japanese Language and Director of the Japanese Language Program, the ceremony transitioned to an end-of-semester celebration. Students and guests enjoyed sushi, drank tea, and brought the evening’s activities to a festive close.