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SUMMER 2016 


Dennis Dong ‘18

As a second-year double majoring in Environmental Studies and Biology, Dennis will spend two months interning at the world’s leading conservation organization, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Shenzhen, China. Dennis explains his motivation for his internship: “During my years in China, I lived in Hohhot (near Mongolia) and Shenzhen (near Hong Kong) that embody two extreme examples of environmental consciousness. The former has been the main site for heavy industrialization of socialist development since 1960 and faced tremendous degradation with life-threatening pollutions. The latter, where I lived as a teenager, is a very young city built after the Economic Reform in 1980s, but has been at the vanguard of many successful environmental advancements … I am enthralled and wonder how China is dealing with its environmental issues given the various challenges and its recent COP21 commitment.” Dennis will be involved in many fascinating activities including working with urban planners to implement the multi-faceted Carbon Evaluation System. We look forward to hearing about what he discovers about the environmental issues in China.

Kirk Pearson '17

From June to August, Kirk will live abroad a ferry crossing the Java Sea and chronicle his experience along the 4,500-mile trip across the archipelago, during which he will be recording 360-degree video and binaural audio. After spending his last Winter Term in Indonesia on the documentary Fin, which traced the tuna supply chain from Sumatra to Tokyo, Kirk will return to Indonesia and continue to work with Patrick Gilfether ‘15, Shansi Fellow in Aceh, to examine the Java Sea and Indonesian Coral Triangle. They aspire to juxtapose these two incredible ecosystems through narratives from people most affected by Indonesia’s maritime developments including sailors, construction workers, and conservationists. The end result will be a series of interactive multimedia pieces that will highlight life above and below water, and as Kirk notes, “Our voyage will take us to key port development projects and vital marine ecosystems (my research area) to tell the story of life at the frontier of anthropogenic climate change.”

Jun Takaki ‘17

The Moyamoya disease is a rare and progressive cerebrovascular disorder caused by blockage of the arteries at the base of the brain primarily effecting children in Asian countries. Symptoms include mini-strokes, and weakness of the muscles. Third-Year Jun will be spending ten weeks in Professor Shohab Youssefian’s molecular biology lab at Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine examining the genes and various proteins associated with the Moyamoya disease. In addition to strengthening his lab skills, Jun said, “I am eager to experience lab work in Japan, which will allow me to better understand how cultural factors affect research processes. Upon returning to Oberlin, I will dialogue with my peers and mentors at Oberlin about my summer work in Japan to compare research experiences in Japan and America.” Upon his return to campus, Jun will write an article on his scientific findings on the Moyamoya disease and his experiences in a Japanese lab for Oberlin’s science magazine, The Synapse.

Linh Tran '18

An important question is on the minds of many of the international students at Oberlin — Should I try to stay in the United States or return to my home country after graduation? Clover’s independent project will take her back to Vietnam to explore that pivotal issue and will come together in a photography installation. Clover will interview and photograph Vietnamese “abroaders”—individuals who studied abroad then returned home; she is looking for the answers to questions about integrating back into one’s own society after an extended stay abroad, and the challenges that lie ahead. Clover will have a public exhibition in Hanoi, create posts on Facebook, and then bring the exhibition back to Oberlin as a way to engage with international students on campus struggling with the same question. She thinks, “It will provide a chance for us international students, in Oberlin and elsewhere, to catch a glimpse into the post-study-abroad life in our home countries and make the decision from there.”

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Bikalpa Baniya ’19

First-year Bikalpa Baniya ’19 returned home to Nepal to examine the current education system following the aftermath of the devastating 2015 earthquake that killed more than 3,500 people. While there, Bikalpa volunteered at Shighadevi Secondary School, located in the rural Sindhupalchowk District. This district was one of the areas most affected by the earthquake, with more than 95 percent of homes destroyed. As a part-time English tutor, Bikalpa interacted with the students and discovered the many barriers that stand in the way of students in Nepal. After returning to Oberlin, Bikalpa intends to create a club on campus to spread awareness of the difficulties students face in Nepal.

Olivia Evans ’18 

Second-year Olivia Evans ’18 traced the Chinese diaspora in Indonesia through oral history supplemented with her personal and academic understanding of the Chinese-Indonesian identity. Olivia interviewed close family members, engaged in meaningful discussions with other family friends, and attended events within the community to gain a deeper understanding of her family history from migration to adjustment in the last century. As a prospective East Asian Studies major, Olivia is grateful for the opportunity to supplement her academic pursuit with a personal experience.

Marcus Hill ’19

Marcus Hill ’19 traveled to Sichuan, China to investigate erosions along the upper portion of the Yangtze River, called the Jinsha River. Marcus accompanied Assistant Professor of Geology Amanda Schmidt and Oberlin student Suzanna Doak ’16 as part of Oberlin College’s ongoing collaboration with Sichuan University in China to collect river sediment samples for thorough examination in Oberlin’s laboratories. While in China, the group also connected with Taigu Fellows Maisy Byerly ’15 and Liam Leslie ’15!

Priyanka Sen ’19

Priyanka Sen ’19 returned to her hometown, Kolkata, to provide assistance to the LGBTQ community, a highly marginalized and oppressed group in India. She volunteered with Kolkata Rista, a community-based organization, and learned of the many issues faced by the LGBTQ community in India. In the span of two weeks, Priyanka attended a series of community engagement activities including advocacy sessions, outreach events, and intensive workshops focused on empowering not only the LGBTQ community but also other socially and economically marginalized groups in Kolkata.

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