Roanoke College History Professor and Students will Travel to China thanks to Freeman Foundation Fellowship Award

by roanokecollege on February 19, 2012

Photo Credit: Jonathan Kos-Read / Flickr

By: Sam Smith

Dr. Stella Xu of the history department and four of her students will be taking part in the ASIANetwork-Freeman Foundation Student-Faculty Program for Collaborative Research in Asia this summer for three weeks (May 22 to June 12, 2012). Their project title is “Reinvented Tradition in the Age of Globalization: the Silk Road and its Legacy in Contemporary China.”

The program’s main goal is to support student driven research in Asia under the supervision of a faculty mentor. The organization provides up to $5,000 in research funds for each student and faculty member.

The Freeman Foundation Fellowship is a national competition where only 300 members are chosen to go and make up 14 different research teams in countries all over Asia. This is the first time Roanoke students and faculty are taking part in this and being chosen from numerous other applications is a very prestigious honor. Dr. Xu, Roanoke College’s first East-Asian specialist, attributes being chosen partly to the strong letters of support of the administration, faculty advisors, and the department chair, but mostly to her “strong group of students who show a real interest in East-Asian studies.”

Dr. Xu and her students began planning for this project in March of last year and the final application was submitted in December. Even though each student has a separate research topic Dr. Xu states that she “knows all of the students well and they are already a team”. All four of Dr. Xu’s students have taken classes in East Asian history and two of them are part of the East Asian Concentration program.

The students traveling with Dr. Xu are Kathleen Ouyang (senior) who will be examining “the complexity involved in the recent opening of the National Museum of China”, Mathilda Nassar (freshman) who will focus on “Chinese traditional medicine”, Zachary Hottel (senior) who will examine “European missionaries to China, and their impressions and interactions with Mongol elites in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries compared to contemporary China”, and Thomas Emerson (Junior) who will be conducting research on “the domestication of Buddhism as well as the revival of Buddhism in contemporary China.” While in China these students will get the opportunity to conduct interviews with scholars as well as visit museums, temples, churches, mosques, and Buddhist grottoes.

Dr. Xu is very proud of her students and is excited about this trip that should be as she says “an effective experience with very productive research. The students will be outside of their comfort zone in China but this will be the best experience of their college life.” The students will present their research reports at three different programs on campus next year but they will also present at the ASIANetwork’s annual conference in March of 2013.

For more information on the Student-Faculty Fellows Program for Collaborative Research in Asia you can visit:

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