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Eastern Journeys

News Feature

News & Events

April 25, 2012

The next group of Shea Scholars will be heading East in June for three weeks of research.

Art majors Andrew Laverty, '13, of Plymouth, and Jing Ting Long, '13, of Boston, along with English major Ashley Young, '13, of Rehoboth, will depart June 18.

Dr. Minae Savas, assistant professor of Japanese studies in the Department of Foreign Languages, will lead the undergraduate research abroad trip and mentor the students. They will be based at Kansai University, one of BSU's Asian partners.

Shea Scholars was founded nearly 30 years ago thanks to a bequest from the estate of the late Dr. Ellen Shea, '35, former dean of students. It is under the direction of her executor Martha Jones, '64. It now works in partnership with the Adrian Tinsley Program for Undergraduate Research. Under this arrangement, last year the program shifted its focus to a meet an emerging need at the university, and now supports undergraduate research abroad.

Last summer, Shea Scholars helped send a BSU social work professor and a team of students to China to study aging.

This year's Scholars spent a recent afternoon at the Davis Alumni Center describing their research to members of the scholarship committee.

Each also expressed gratitude for the funding that undergirds the trip.

"Without this support it's not possible for these students to go to Japan," Dr. Savas said.

The students have already studied Japanese for two years. They will conduct their research overseas in both English and Japanese. In her presentation, Dr. Savas enumerated her goals for the students, which included the exploration of cultural and linguistic differences between the two countries.

"The projects are important for developing our cultural understanding," Dr. Savas said.

Through their research, the students will learn much about Japanese values, perceptions, rituals and traditions, she said.

Mr. Laverty will spend his time in Japan examining selected books on Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints. Through intensive study of ukiyo-e, the most popular of the traditional styles of Japanese art, he hopes to develop an understanding of design elements incorporated therein that make the prints effectively convey a message or story, while remaining aesthetically pleasing.

Ms. Long is interested in exploring the significance of Japanese ceramics and ceramic art used in chano-yu, or the tea ceremony. The tea drinking ritual was fully developed by Sen no Rikyu (1522-1591), a tea master who served for the military leaders who attempted to unify Japan at the end of the Warring States period in the late 16th century.

Ms. Young will spend her time overseas studying selected Japanese literary works and dramas which focus on the use of masks. She will test her thesis that such works demonstrate the Japanese social value of suppressing one's own feelings in order to conform to social norms. She will further explore effects of non-verbal communication by comparing the original Japanese works with English translations.

The students plan to present the results of their research at BSU's Undergraduate Research Symposium and the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in March 2013. They also plan to submit their drafts to The Bridge, BSU's student journal of literature and fine art.

Also on hand at the reception were the students who traveled to China last summer thanks to the Shea Scholars program. They studied elder care over the course of the summer, under the guidance of Dr. Jing Tan, assistant professor of social work.

"The students worked really hard during the three weeks in China," she said. "Now they are turning that research into a paper." (Story and photo by John Winters, G '11, University Advancement).

(Left to right) Dr. Minae Savas, Ashley Young, Jing Ting Long and Andrew Laverty

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