Introducing the 2017 Shansi Fellows!

2017 Shansi Fellows

Back Row: Brendan Nuse, Aliya Tuzhilin, Hyacinth Parker, Olivia Hay, Lyric Grimes; Front Row: Kayla Johnston-Mitchell, Franklin Sussman; Not Pictured: Peter D'Auria

Eight Obies are about to embark on their Shansi journey! The newly selected Fellows are Peter D’Auria ’14 (not pictured), Lyric Grimes ’17, Olivia Hay ‘17, Kayla Johnston-Mitchell ’17, Brendan Nuse ’17, Hyacinth Parker ’17, Franklin Sussman ‘17, and Aliya Tuzhilin ’17. The Fellows will spend one to two years living and working at Shansi’s partner institutions in China, India, Indonesia, and Japan.

Oberlin Shansi is an independent, nonprofit organization promoting understanding and communication between Oberlin and Asia. Founded in 1908, it is one of the oldest educational exchange programs in the United States. The Shansi Fellowships support recent graduates working, learning, and teaching in university and nongovernmental organization partners in China, India, Indonesia, and Japan.

These eight highly accomplished Fellows are excitedly preparing for their fellowship, and are gearing up for an intensive orientation in January 2017. In the summer of 2017, they will join the five Fellows who are currently completing the first-year of their fellowships.


Lyric Grimes '17

Lyric Grimes ’17, an East Asian Studies Major, will be the new Fellow to Beijing Normal University. For her junior year abroad in Beijing, Lyric spent a semester at Capital Normal University and a semester at the Middlebury School. Lyric has previously interned at nonprofits such as the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, and as a Bonner Scholar volunteers at the Oberlin Public Library. Lyric strongly believes that literature can expose people to the customs, traditions, and unfiltered thoughts and feelings prevalent in another country. She strives to organize her passion for China, Mandarin, and Chinese culture in a career as an East Asian librarian, introducing others to Chinese novels such as Lu Xun’s Diary of a Madman or Shen Congwen’s Border Town. She is excited to act as a cultural ambassador to expand her students’ image of Americans and typical language learners.

Brendan Nuse '17

Brendan Nuse ’17, a double major in Environmental Studies and East Asian Studies, will spend two years at Shanxi Agricultural University in Taigu, China. Brendan studied abroad for a semester in Kunming, China, and is currently researching changes in arguments for vegetarianism throughout history in China for his honors thesis. He has a strong interest in teaching, and has worked at Oberlin as a tutor and teaching assistant for classes in the Environmental Studies department. He has tutored with America Reads and America Counts, taught swimming lessons, been a substitute teacher, and last summer worked as a Residential Educator at the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy. In China, Brendan hopes to deepen his understanding of Chinese culture and hone his pedagogical skills. He intends to become a Chinese language professor and plans to take action against current environmental crises by increasing cross-cultural understanding.


Olivia Hay ’17, an Anthropology major with a linguistics concentration, will be the Director of the International Studies Centre at Lady Doak College in Madurai. Olivia is particularly interested in languages. She is a research assistant in Oberlin’s Linguistics Lab, and recently presented research on Hiaki (an endangered Native American language) at the Symposium on American Indian Languages at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She has studied Japanese since middle school, has taken an intensive Mandarin course, and traveled to five different cities in Japan on a LIASE grant to learn about energy and sustainability practices. Olivia has thrived for four years as a varsity NCAA athlete and is currently Senior Captain of the Oberlin Women’s Tennis team. In addition, she was selected for the Oberlin Law Scholars Program for 2015-2016 and sees herself in law school in the future.

Aliya Tuzhilin '17

The new Fellow at Jagori Grameen is Aliya Tuzhilin ’17, a double major in Psychology and History. Aliya grew up in a multicultural household speaking Russian and Bengali at home. She has a strong interest in food justice that stems from her South Asian heritage, and is eager to engage in fieldwork in sustainable agriculture and conflict mediation. During the summer she interned at Rainforest Alliance, a New York-based conservation NGO, doing evaluations and research on projects such as the sustainability practices of Nescafe coffee famers. She is Co-Head of Real Food Challenge Oberlin, which assists the College in implementing its commitment to serve responsibly produced food. Her senior private reading involves research into motivating behavioral change towards pro-environmental product choices. In addition, she is a mentor and brought a classical Indian dance form, Odissi, to the students in Lorain County’s Girls in Motion program.


The new Fellow to Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh, Indonesia is Peter D’Auria ’14, a graduate with a degree in Creative Writing and Neuroscience. Peter is interested in both journalism and teaching, and has worked as a reporter in Oregon and Alaska since graduation. At Oberlin, he was also deeply involved in improv comedy and OCircus!, and will no doubt incorporate his performance skills into his lessons. He has a deep curiosity about the world and other cultures, and has traveled to the UK, Brazil, Italy, Norway, and Belgium. He is currently teaching English to primary school students in Cayenne, French Guiana, which he describes as “a great and fascinating opportunity to engage with another culture, to learn about my own, and to get a picture of the educational system of another country.” He hopes to bring his interests to Asia, where he will continue engaging with different cultures and communities.

Hyacinth Parker '17

Hyacinth Parker ’17, an Environmental Studies major with a concentration in Peace and Conflict Studies, will be the Fellow to Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Hyacinth has travelled to Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, and India to research urban planning, women’s rights, climate change, and transportation systems. Through the Fellowship, Hyacinth hopes to gain a nuanced understanding of the social, political, and cultural dynamic of Yogyakarta. An avid trumpet player, Hyacinth is most looking forward to exploring the urban spaces of Yogya, reaching out to local batik textile dyers, and building bridges with local organizations that are involved in human rights and sustainability.


Kayla Johnston-Mitchell '17

Kayla Johnston-Mitchell ’17, an East Asian Studies major and Economics minor, has considerable experience in Japan. She studied there for a summer during high school, spent a year on the Associated Kyoto Program at Doshisha University, and has traveled widely throughout the country. She has completed up to Japanese 453 and will enroll in Japanese 500 next spring. Kayla has taught English to children in Japan, is a Bonner Scholar, and has taught Japanese to children through the YMCA’s Kids Explore Japan program. In Japan, she hopes to explore the traditional arts of tea ceremony and archery. In the future she sees herself working for the U.S. State Department or as a rehousing consultant for companies seeking to relocate staff to East Asian countries.

Franklin Sussman ’17, an East Asian Studies major, spent the 2015-2016 school year at Doshisha University on the Associated Kyoto Program, and is currently taking two 400-level Japanese classes. He is passionate about languages, linguistics and music, which are all subjects he sees most lacking in the U.S. educational system. While in Kyoto he joined a community group to study Japanese Sign Language where he found the members to be compassionate and supportive of his efforts to master this difficult subject. This semester, he is also co-teaching the ABCs of American Sign Language ExCo at Oberlin. Franklin sees himself entering the teaching profession, which he thinks will be an exciting and never-ending challenge, but he is willing to put in the necessary work to succeed.

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