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Li, Students Receive Grant for Research Project in China

Asia-103 (1)Asian Studies and Chinese Language Assistant Professor Dr. Qingjun (Joan) Li and four of her students–Anna Croghan, Samantha Hubner, Joseph Minga and Ryan Pino–recently were awarded an ASIANetwork/Freeman Foundation Student-Faculty Fellows Grant. Of 27 team applications, only eight were selected for grants which will fully fund the team’s research project in China this summer.

“I am so excited about this invaluable research opportunity which allows me to take four of my remarkable students to China and work together with them for over three weeks. We all carry the great passion for China, and our study of the commodification of culture will result in new understandings about how Chinese culture is being made into a profitable industry. This is an intriguing project,” Li said.

The team will be in the People’s Republic of China for approximately four weeks in May and early June 2014. The research project, titled “The Commodification of Culture in China’s New Cultural Industry,” will examine the role of culture in China’s new cultural industry, which is a pillar economic commitment of over $172.95 billion or a full 2.78% of the country’s GDP.

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Custodian Shares ‘Life & Love’ through Paintings

Tam Mai-122-LA picture may be worth a thousand words, but acrylics on canvases tell the life story of a Vietnamese political refugee who found inspiration and acceptance at Belmont University.

Painting a bird flying in the moonlight reminds Tam Mai of his mom, who married young and lived a difficult life in poverty. Brush strokes detail a small boatman crossing a large river and make Mai reflect on how he forsook his teachers as a child. Mixing the reds, oranges and yellows of fall leaves give him strength. A brightly colored landscape brings to his mind the romantic dreams he wants to accomplish with his wife.

These and a dozen other Mai paintings are on display in the Leu Art Gallery where on Monday the University hosted a reception for Mai, a Wheeler Hall custodian.

Mai, who has worked at Belmont for a decade, immigrated to Nashville as a political refugee. He speaks little English but with fellow custodians and his son, a Belmont alumnus, working as translators, he addressed the Belmont community during the reception. (more…)

Humanities Symposium Panel Discusses ‘Encountering Otherness’

The featured speakers of the 12th annual Humanities Symposium discussed “Encountering Otherness” with students on Wednesday in Beaman A&B.

Humanities Panel-111-LAmy Shuman, CeCe Big Crow, George Yancy, Robert Barsky and Eduardo Corral shared ideas and participated in a dialogue about their understanding of the theoretical and methodological connection for encountering others. Each speaker touched on what the theme meant to them.

Barsky, a philosopher, saidthat “encountering otherness” is essentially a relationship between sameness and difference.

“You absolutely need the other to exist as a self. We fundamentally need one another,” Barsky said.

He also said that at the core, we are all identical. “The distance between you and the other may be one difference in path.”

The panel discussed the importance of unity and how to exemplify this concept and show respect for others in everyday life. They also encouraged students to attend the other symposium events continuing this week.

The Humanities Symposium seeks to stimulate intellectual conversation through its 31 events, which together will engage in a week-long conversation designed to increase interactions with different cultures, religions, political views and historical understandings to dislodge the default view and open students to broader understanding.

Surgeon Connects Faith, Science to Restore Eyesight

Nashville eye surgeon Dr. Ming Wang shared with students the importance of making connections between their faith and science and how he has used health care as a ministry during convocation Thursday in the Neely Dining Hall.

“We have to confront the controversies of faith and science. It is one of the most important questions in this age of society … so we can move forward in good conscience and with peace of mind when faced with issues society is trying to figure out the answers to,” Wang said.

He told the story of the successes of his amniotic membrane contact lens, for which he has two U.S. patents. Using tissue from fetuses to prevent scarring of the corneas, he has successfully restored eyesight to several people. The procedure is covered by Medicare and insurance companies and has been performed by more than 500 doctors in the United States, he said.

“No matter how difficult things are in our lives, God has a plan for us. He wants us to conduct research to advance medicine and improve the quality of human lives,” Wang said. “But he wants us to do it his way.”

Wang also told students how his adolescence was interrupted by the Chinese Cultural Revolution, during which time many middle and high school students were forced to leave because Chinese colleges closed. Fourteen-year-old Wang stayed in China, studied illegally at a medical school and unsuccessfully tried to make a living as a composer and musician. In 1982, he arrived in the United States with only $50 and a Chinese-American dictionary.  He went on to graduate magna cum laude from Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a doctorate in laser physics. Today, Wang is director of the Wang Vision 3D Cataract and LASIK Center and has received international attention for his path-breaking eye surgeries. His nonprofit organization Wang Foundation for Sight Restoration has provided free surgeries for patients from 40 states and 55 countries, and he recently founded the Wang Foundation for Christian Outreach to China.

The School of Occupational Therapy and the Asian Studies Program co-sponsored the convocation lecture.

Students Learn Japanese in Classroom, Community

Ozaki’s students made sushi.

Adjunct faculty member Naoko Ozaki is gaining a reputation on campus and in the Nashville community for her techniques to teach Japanese to Belmont students. Their in-classroom experience includes games of charades, and on the weekends, students dine at local Japanese restaurants, make sushi and volunteer at local Japanese festivals.

“I believe in the grammar translation method of education: study grammar, read and write, in combination with communicative approach,” said Ozaki, who also advocates for cultural immersion and has created a micro environment for her students to interact with people whose first language is Japanese. All of Ozaki’s students interact each week with Japanese immigrants she met at the Nashville Cultural Festival. Ozaki gives guidelines on which grammar patterns to use and during the hour-long session, they split their time equally conversing in Japanese and English to help each other develop language skills and with culture nuances.

“(Students) are happy with the fact they go to the store and can read the words on products and recognize words when they watch Japanese movies. They have learned 400 characters and can converse at limited capacity but can ask questions and put together simple sentences,” said Ozaki, adding that she strives to build a sense of unity and sense of belonging in Belmont’s Japanese program.

The classes performed this past Saturday at the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival in the Public Square.

“She said she wanted to start a choir, and our class was like, ‘yeah, OK.’ Then she told us she got us a gig. It was a little surprising for us as a class, but fun,” said Cecilia Tregelles, a junior in the entertainment industry studies program.

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