Asian Conversations

Spring Exhibit in Response to “Lost in Asia” ©2020 by Kasha Joy Mouacheupao ’22, Daisy Torres ’22, and Mei Kreibich ’22

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From politics to pop culture, economics to the environment, never has Asia been more important to the world, as we embrace an increasingly interconnected and globalized 21st century.  Asian Conversations (known on the Hill as “Asian Con”) seeks motivated and adventurous students who are interested in joining a high-impact learning community about Asia, along with a sequence of Chinese or Japanese language study for their first two years of college.  Asian Con is dedicated to providing students with a comprehensive global perspective through exceptional disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches on Asia (such as art, history, linguistics, literature, political science, and religion) as well as a faculty-led experiential interims to China and Japan during the sophomore year.  Students from all academic backgrounds and pathways are welcome as long as they are committed to the study of Asia.  Asian Conversations highlights critical thinking, inclusive conversation, and cross-disciplinary collaboration for the better understanding of not only Asian languages and societies, but also the development of students as skillful, thoughtful, and impactful global citizens.

Big Picture Takeaways for Asian Con

  1. Asian Con fosters community and collaborative work through discussion and reflection, equipping you with the critical tools to exercise and recognize your personal agency.
  2. This guided academic experience of studying about and living in Asia will enable you to continue to pursue long-term academic and professional opportunities in Asia.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

In addition to mastering the “First-Year Seminar” and “Writing & Rhetoric” components, students will demonstrate:

  1. Appreciation for how integrating language and culture in the study of Asia grounds more advanced work related to Asia.
  2. Basic knowledge of Asia, centering on China and Japan yet including other countries, cultures, and communities.
  3. Ability to pursue interdisciplinary approaches to the study of Asia.
  4. Writing as a way to discover their own “voice,” to clarify ideas, integrate and make coherent the interplay between experience and idea.
  5. Practicing different communication techniques for interaction, negotiating, research, and presentation.
  6. Intentional reflection upon their experiences and themselves in relation to the culture/country they study by creating a portfolio that demonstrates knowledge, integrative, cultural and reflexive skills.
  7. Not only cultural and linguistic proficiencies, important as they are, but also empathy: an ability to understand what it is like to be “them” in their cultural context and what it is like to be “us” in “their” eyes.

Applying

All incoming first-year students who are interested in studying Asia are eligible for the Asian Conversations program; simply choose “Asian Conversations” as your top choice for fulfilling the First-Year Experience when filling out your Advising Questionnaire.

Asian Con fulfills both your  “First Year Seminar” and “Writing and Rhetoric” requirements as well as several other St Olaf Core requirements: Global Histories and Societies, OLE Experience in Practice and Writing across the Curriculum.

Language is important to our exploration, especially for the study-abroad experience.  So alongside “First Year Seminar” and “Writing and Rhetoric,” Asian Con students are required to take Chinese and/or Japanese during their first year.  If you have previous language experiences, you will need to complete the Chinese Placement Exam or the Japanese Placement Exam.  If you test into second year level or higher, you will need to continue with your language study in the respectively placed class. If you do not have experience in Chinese or Japanese, but want to learn, St Olaf is a great place to do so. Regardless of where you start, taking Chinese or Japanese will also fulfill St Olaf’s World Languages and Cultures Core requirement.

In your sophomore year, you will continue with your language study (Chinese or Japanese classes at 231/232 or higher) in the fall semester, then head to China or Japan for the experiential January Interim and finally return to reflect on your time away in the reflective seminar in the Spring.

If you have any questions, please contact Professor Ka Wong, Director of Asian Conversations (wongk@stolaf.edu), about your interest and inquiries.

Asian Conversations alumni: keep up with the department by liking our Facebook page!