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Yeongsu CHANG FS2018-19, The University of Tokyo | from Japan to USA

I am writing to thank you for your generous scholarship, which provided me with one of the most challenging and exciting time of my life early this year. I studied at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA from January to May, 2018. Despite the relatively short period I stayed there, I was more than satisfied with my experience there. I am sure that without your financial help, it would not have been as fun and successful as it was.


I had three main reasons to study abroad. First, I wanted to pursue my major in linguistics from the cognitive perspective, which was possible at Johns Hopkins University where the linguistics department was positioned inside the Department of Cognitive Sciences. I was able to take two courses at the department, both of which has provided me with a lot of helpful insights and knowledge I will make use of in my thesis. Second, I was very curious about college education in America especially in terms of how students spend their time differently. I was shocked to meet so many smart students working harder than anyone I knew before. To be honest, the workload for each class was a bit overwhelming for me, but I learned to push myself and get myself to the higher intensity in studying. Third, I wanted to have chances to communicate with ethnic minorities in America. Having lived as a Zainichi Korean (Korean in Japan), I started to think more about my own identity and issues around ethnic minorities in Japan. I wanted to frame the local ‘Zainichi’ issue in a wider discussion by broadening my perspective in America where the society, more apparently, accommodates people from different origins.


One of the biggest accomplishments I have made while studying abroad was that I had an opportunities to give a presentation at an academic symposium held at Johns Hopkins University. The symposium was about the novel Pachinko written by Min Jin LEE. The novel is about four generations of a Korean immigrant family in Japan, depicting their hopes and dreams. I was invited to the symposium as a discussant with the author Min Jin LEE and shared my thoughts and experiences as one of the members of the ethnic community the novel is all about. The preparation period for the symposium was very important for me, even as much as the participation to the event, as it required me to go through all the experiences and verbalize every single thought and feeling related to my ethnicity or identity. This process left me with deep thoughts and emotions about what I am and who we, my family and the whole Zainichi community, are especially in relation to Japanese society. Although this was not something planned ahead of my arrival, it was such a special opportunity for me.


(From L to R) Min Jin LEE, Yeongsu CHANG


Once again, I greatly appreciate the Victor and William Fung Foundation for making it possible for me to study abroad without worrying about the financial issue. I was able to focus more on studying and learn so many things. Thank you so much.


Yeongsu CHANG (left)