January 7, 2002 Geneva, N.Y. — Hobart and William Smith Colleges recently received a grant of more than $990,000 from the Freeman Foundation's Undergraduate Asian Studies Funding Initiative. The grant funds, to be awarded over a period of four years, will support several projects-sustaining current ones and initiating others. All the initiatives build upon the Colleges commitment to the expansion of the Colleges' Asian studies department.
One project is a cooperative Asia Awareness Program between Hobart and William Smith and area schools; another, an intensive, four-week China Immersion Program during which students and faculty from the Colleges and teachers from local schools will study and teach in China or Taiwan. A scholarship program will also be established to annually enable four Asian students from South Korea, China, Vietnam, and Japan to spend their junior year at the Colleges and to provide modest financial support for accomplished students in the Hobart and William Smith Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. Funds will also be used to purchase books, computers and other media for the Asian Studies program.
The Asia Awareness Program has two components: expansion of the current BRIDGE project in Vietnam and the Heaton Summer Institute. Through BRIDGE (Bringing Relevant Internet Dialogue to Geneva Education), local elementary school students experience an enhanced curriculum by interacting online and in the classroom with students from the Colleges, some of whom are studying abroad. Expanding this program, students from Hobart and William Smith who will study in Vietnam during the fall semester of 2002 will become involved with an elementary, middle, or high school class. Once they are in Hanoi, HWS students will send periodic e-mails describing their experiences and answering questions the local students might have for them. HWS students will be equipped with a digital camera so they can supplement their e-mail exchanges with thought-provoking images. Upon their return, the college students will meet with the elementary classes to present final reports on their experiences. BRIDGE is currently funded through a grant from the Independent College Fund of New York, in cooperation with the John Ben Snow Foundation.
The Hobart and William Smith China Immersion Program will enable 10 Hobart and William Smith students, two faculty members, and two local teachers to travel to either China or Taiwan each year to do intensive course work on contemporary Chinese society. In connection with the Asia Awareness Program, students in the China Immersion Program will take a preparatory course on China and make presentations in area schools before departing. Following their return from Asia, students in the program will submit a research paper based on their experiences and make follow-up presentations in local schools. The Hobart and William Smith faculty members will revise old courses or create new ones to include material on Chinese society, and the local teachers will enhance their curriculum with more focus on China.
Through the Hobart and William Smith scholarship program in Asian Studies, four rising Hobart or William Smith juniors who have demonstrated superior scholarship in Asian Studies will receive stipends of $3,000 through their senior year. In addition, the Freeman grant will enable Hobart and William Smith to recruit four students from East Asia each year-one each from Vietnam, China or Taiwan, Korea, and Japan-to spend their junior year at the Colleges.
The Asia Awareness Program will also join forces with the Elizabeth Heaton Summer Institute, which was established at Hobart and William Smith during the summer of 2001. Named after a highly regarded teacher, musician, and family counselor in the local community, this program was organized to bring groups of middle school students to campus every summer to participate in one-week academic enrichment programs. During the summer of 2002, two of these programs will focus on Asian life and culture. The Colleges are also planning a summer workshop on Asia for local teachers.
Based in New York City, the Freeman Foundation is committed to increasing, strengthening, and popularizing the teaching of Asia in college and university classrooms. This is the first grant Hobart and William Smith has received from the Foundation.
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