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Scholarship Enables Grinnell Senior to Study Indonesian

Mari HolmesMari Holmes ’17 has received a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship, enabling her to participate in a fully funded summer language immersion program in Malang, Indonesia.

Holmes, a gender, women's and sexuality studies major from Beaumont, Texas, is one of approximately 560 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students selected for this honor in 2016. The Critical Language Scholarship is a highly competitive, government-sponsored language immersion program designed to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering languages critical to the U.S. Department of State.

Recipients are spending seven to 10 weeks in intensive language institutions this summer in one of 13 countries to study Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, or Urdu.

The Critical Language Scholarship gives Holmes an opportunity to go back to Indonesia, where she was born and raised.

"Because I haven't been back in more than a decade, I have lost the ability to communicate in my native tongue," Holmes said. "Thus, I am grateful that the CLS is providing me with the opportunity to reconnect with my cultural roots and formally relearn the language in my hometown of Malang. I hope that my studies in Indonesian will enable me to engage more with my research now as a Mellon Mays fellow and as a prospective anthropologist and scholar of Indonesian studies."

As a Mellon Mays fellow at Grinnell College, Holmes has studied the relationship between Indonesian nationalism and masculine memory after the 1965 massacres. She hopes to continue this research abroad. She is also the leader of the Asian-American Association on campus.

Holmes, who plans to graduate in May 2017, is the second Grinnell College student in two years to receive a Critical Language Scholarship.

Tracy PaLast year Tracy Pa ’15 accepted a Critical Language Scholarship that allowed her to participate in a fully funded language immersion program in Japan last summer.

Pa, who majored in sociology with a concentration in East Asian studies, studied Japanese in Hikone, Japan, a small city on the shore of Lake Biwa, Japan's largest lake.

"This scholarship challenged me to fully immerse myself in Japanese language and culture," Pa said. "I gained more confidence in my language ability and have test-proven results that I improved during this program."

Like Holmes, Pa was a Mellon Mays fellow during her time at Grinnell. Pa conducted research on the representation of the atomic bomb in American and Japanese children's literature as part of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program.

A former resident of San Francisco, Pa now serves as an assistant language teacher with the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program in Tokyo. The program promotes grassroots international exchange between Japan and other nations. She plans to pursue a doctoral degree in Japanese language and literature with a focus on modern Japanese literature.

The Critical Language Scholarship, a program of the U.S. Department of State, is a prestigious and highly competitive award that corroborates the strength of Grinnell's language instructors, off-campus study officers and scholarship staff—in addition to the talents of the awardees themselves.

Learn more about CLS and other exchange programs at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The Great Disruption: China's 21st Century Reemergence

It is often said these days that whenever China sneezes, the world catches a cold. Indeed, some time within the next decade, China is likely to become the world’s largest economy. This paradigm shift has wide-ranging implications, in particular for a United States that dominated the 20th century.

A generation of Americans will age into a profoundly changed world in which the rise of China will affect many facets of their lives — economic, social, environmental, perhaps even philosophical — and thus a basic understanding of 20% of humanity can no longer be relegated to specialists and policymakers.

Damien Ma will present “The Great Disruption: China's 21st Century Reemergence” at 4 p.m. Friday, April 29, in ARH Auditorium, Room 302. In his talk, Ma aims to provide an overarching picture of the Chinese political economy, where it has been and where it may be headed. More broadly, Ma seeks to explain why the US-China relationship is so consequential to global economic and environmental prosperity and stability. 

Ma’s visit is sponsored by the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights; East Asian Studies; and the Department of Chinese and Japanese.

Damien Ma

Damien Ma is a fellow and associate director of the Think Tank at the Paulson Institute. His work at the institute also focuses on investment and policy-related programs. He is the co-author of In Line Behind a Billion People: How Scarcity Will Define China’s Ascent in the Next Decade. He currently also serves as an adjunct lecturer at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Previously, Ma was a lead China and Mongolia analyst at Eurasia Group, the political risk research and advisory firm. He specialized in analyzing the intersection between Chinese policies and markets, with a particular focus on energy and commodities, industrial policy, elite politics, US-China relations, and social policies. His advisory and analytical work served a range of clients from institutional investors and multinational corporations to the US government. Prior to joining Eurasia Group, he was a manager of publications at the US-China Business Council in Washington, DC. He also worked in public relations firm H-Line Ogilvy in Beijing, where he served major multinational clients.

In addition, Ma has published widely, including in The Atlantic online, New York Times, Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, Foreign Policy, and Bloomberg, among others. He has also appeared in a range of broadcast media such as the Charlie Rose Show, BBC, NPR, and CNBC. He also served as an adjunct instructor at Johns Hopkins SAIS in Washington, DC. Ma is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was named a “99under33” foreign policy leader in 2012 by the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese.


Bejing Filmmaker and Author Visits Grinnell College

November 9, 7:30 pm – Screening of A Chronicle of My Cultural Revolution (ARH 302)

November 10, 4:15 pm – Roundtable discussion, “An International Life of Arts and Letters” (Burling Lounge)

Bejing writer and documentary filmmaker Xu Xing is finishing a month-long speaking tour of universities in the United States with a visit to Grinnell College on November 9 and 10. His time here includes a screening of one of his films followed by a time for questions and answers, a roundtable discussion and reflection on his experiences in China and abroad, and several other opportunities for conversation.

Born in China in 1956, Xu Xing was separated from his parents as a child when they were sent away for re-education during the Cultural Revolution. He has traveled extensively, in China and other countries, and his short stories reflect themes of wandering, loneliness, bitterness, and the quest for individual freedom. His films also explore these themes, and often include humor and elements of fantasy.

Burling Library has available Xu Xing’s collection of short stories, Variations Without a Theme and Other Stories, translated by Maria Galikowski and Lin Min. Three of Xu Xing’s documentary films are also available in the library’s collection: A Chronicle of My Cultural Revolution, in which Xu Xing narrates chronologically his personal experiences during China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution; Five Plus Five, a humorous depiction of the life of a taxi driver whose customers are residents of a Bejing artists’ colony; and Summary of Crimes, which relates the true story of a group of counter-revolutionary peasants who were jailed for exercising free speech during the Cultural Revolution.

All are invited to events planned during Xu Xing’s visit to Grinnell. On November 9 at 7:30 pm in ARH 302, East Asian Studies will sponsor a screening of the documentary film, A Chronicle of My Cultural Revolution. Xu Xing will be available to answer questions following the screening. The film is subtitled, and a translator will also be present.

On November 10 at 4:15 pm in Burling Lounge, Grinnell College Libraries will sponsor “An International Life of Arts and Letters,” an informal gathering during which Xu Xing will reflect on his experiences in China and abroad. Translation and refreshments will be provided.


Curien, Annie. “Xu Xing.” Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture, 2011. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.

Students Earn Gilman Scholarships to Study Abroad

Tracy Pa ’15 and Isaiah Tyree ’15 have been awarded federally funded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships to support their study abroad during the spring 2014 semester.

  • Tyree is a history and psychology major from Taos, New Mexico. He will study at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Tyree is involved in soccer and track. He plans to pursue a career in counseling and is considering serving in the Peace Corps after graduation.
  • Pa  is a sociology major with a concentration in East Asian studies from San Francisco, Calif. She plans to study at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, in order to continue her education in the Japanese language and feed her passion for Japanese literature. She is a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and is conducting a research project on Asian-American literature.  After graduation, she plans to travel and volunteer abroad for a few years, before returning to the United States for graduate school.

The Gilman Scholarship is a federal grant program that provides awards for U.S. undergraduate students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding to participate in study abroad programs worldwide. The program aims to diversify the kinds of students who study abroad and the countries and regions in which they study by supporting undergraduates who might otherwise not participate due to financial constraints. Doug Cutchins, assistant dean and director of post-graduate transitions, is Grinnell’s campus representative.


China and the New Global Economy


Thirty years ago China was an impoverished state with a limited role in global affairs.  Today it’s the world’s second largest economy, and seems likely to overtake the United States within three years.

It has four of the top ten banks, is the number one exporter in the world market, and holds the largest foreign reserves. China is also expanding its global presence by investing heavily in Africa, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East.

The rise of China as an economic powerhouse is rapidly reshaping the international economic landscape.

First-year students in Stella Chan’s tutorial, China and the New Global Economy, are exploring:

  • What is the impact on workers and firms — both domestic and foreign — as countries are more open to trade and investment flows with China?
  • How does China’s explosive economic growth affect the environment and its sustainability?
  • How are the geopolitical relationships between China and other nations influenced by their economic linkages?

Some Chinese Food for Thought


“Food is a prism that absorbs and reflects a host of cultural phenomena,” says Jin Feng. “An examination of Chinese and Chinese American foodways — behaviors and beliefs surrounding the production, distribution, processing, preparation, and consumption of food — reveals power relations and ways of constructing class, gender, and racial identities.”

This fall, students in Feng’s special topic course, Some Chinese Food for Thought, analyzes foodways in various historical and contemporary contexts. They’ll “bring different types of materials and approaches to bear on the study of our most basic, visceral experience,” says Feng.