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Indiana University


EASC Newsletter

A publication of the East Asian Studies Center, Indiana University

June 2015

Alumni Updates

Kyoim Yun (Ph.D. Folklore, 2007) has been promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure at the University of Kansas. Using her interdisciplinary training at IU, including Folklore, an EALC minor, and Korean language teaching experience, she has worked to build the Korean Studies Program at KU. Her article “The Economic Imperative of UNESCO Recognition” will be published as part of a special issue on “the UNESCO Effect on the Ground” to be published this summer by the Journal of Folklore Research. Her paper “Spiritual Entrepreneurship: Negotiating the Ritual Marketplace on Contemporary Cheju Island, South Korea” has been accepted for publication by the Journal of Ritual Studies. She is currently embarking on a new book project devoted to the “Temple Stay” in South Korea. 

Alumnus Profile: Jessica Harding

East Asian Languages & Cultures MA, 2015

For Jessica Harding, early exposure was critical to developing and pursuing research interests in Chinese linguistics, and ultimately landing her a job as a Chinese teacher in Indiana. Harding hosted a student from China during high school, an experience she credits with introducing her to the country’s language and culture. In 2006, at the student’s invitation, she visited China with her father for the first time. “I remember the food, the language, and everything being so different from the life I experienced in the U.S.  I think my fascination with the ‘novelty’ of China was reciprocated by many of the Chinese people I encountered.  I received lots of curious glances, stares, and even gawking!” Jessica’s trip inspired her to study the language in-depth, and she enrolled in Chinese courses the following semester. After an exchange program at Beijing University of International Relations from 2008-09, Jessica was hungry for more advanced language training.


IU came highly recommended for graduate study, and Jessica found a new home in EALC in 2010. She continued to develop her language abilities, excelling in Chinese language courses and taking advantage of extra-curricular programming like the Chinese Tidings lectures. Combining her certification in TEFL, which introduced her to the core concepts of linguistics, and the new ideas provoked in a seminar on Chinese psycholinguistics, Jessica crafted an MA thesis that examined the use of numeral classifiers in Chinese, specifically focusing on the parameters of numeral classifier and English count-syntax in specific contexts.


She found mentorship for the project under Professor Charles Lin, whom, she recalled, “really helped me to formulate a researchable question” and “pushed me to do more than I thought possible.” With the support of two EASC travel grants in 2012 and 2014, she was able to present her work at linguistics conferences in the Midwest. Indeed, without EASC’s  investment in her work, Jessica notes, she may not have finished the MA. A 2011 FLAS award “was more than financial assistance, it kept me in the program,” Jessica exclaimed, referring to the renewed sense of commitment it provided during a difficult time in her life.


In turn, Jessica took advantage of opportunities to give back to the Bloomington community. She led a presentation on marriage traditions in China at Stone Belt, a Bloomington service provider for individuals with developmental disabilities, in 2012. She also volunteered with the YaYa Chinese program through the Bridges Language Program offered by the Center for the Study of Global Change.


Jessica was recently appointed Chinese instructor at Culver Academies, a preparatory boarding school in Culver, Indiana, where she will teach introductory language courses and organize the Culver in China program. Teaching was a natural fit for Jessica, who wanted to apply her foreign language skills and linguistics knowledge in a meaningful way after graduation. “Teaching is a great way to keep my skills up-to-date…and the job will keep me connected to China,” she said, adding that she will be the school’s first non-native Chinese teacher. Again, Jessica pointed out the importance of exposure to foreign languages, wishing, with just hint of jealousy, that she had been able to start studying Chinese in her teens.


As a newly minted teacher, Jessica couldn’t resist offering some advice for students of Chinese: “If you’re going to learn a language, you have to step outside yourself, be open to criticism, and be unafraid to make mistakes.”


Congratulations Jessica! EASC wishes you success in your teaching career and looks forward to collaborating with you in the future.

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