Fall 2017 Issue Featured News: Russian Studies

Russian Studies: The Search for Soviet Jazz

The Search for Soviet Jazz

 Kary Stevick (International Relations, ’20)

link to film

This past summer I had the amazing opportunity to not only visit and study in St. Petersburg, Russia for six weeks as part of the Reves Center’s study abroad summer program, but also conduct research regarding one of my favorite things—jazz.Soviet Jazz 1

Initially, I was not sure if I could turn my idea into a full-fledged project. After all, what is so different about Russian jazz? Well, almost everything it turns out! The only English-language book published on the subject led my project to explore the differences between “Soviet” jazz, played by local musicians and heavily influenced by the country’s difficult relationship with the music, and “true” jazz, played in swanky hotels for mainly American tourists. When I arrived in St Petersburg, I decided to examine why Russians are still interested in jazz music and what aspects of Russian life influence its musicians.

What really made this project special; however, were the personal interviews I conducted. I had the opportunity to interview Russian jazz legends, a professional jazz singer, and a local jazz bar owner. My summer nights were filled with visits to jazz cafes off of Petersburg’s main thoroughfare Nevskii Prospekt and to concerts at the St. Petersburg State Jazz Philharmonic Hall.  I even attended the international music festival PetroJazz! Being thrust into such in-depth interviews forced me to step up my language game. I had to articulate my questions perfectly, as well as listen carefully to and comprehend my interviewees’ answers to make sure I did not ask something they had already said. In my Russian classes I had never had a Russian unit on jazz, so I found myself adding new music/jazz specific verbs and phrases to my ever-expanding vocabulary every night.

Soviet Jazz 2

Culturally, I was able to learn about St. Petersburg’s relationship with the West. All the music I heard during my time in St. Petersburg was American jazz music. I also learned what Russians think about themselves and Russian culture. Everyone I interviewed was proud of Russian jazz and articulated perfectly how it differed from any other genre of music. “Russian art is inherently confessional,” Alexandra Soboleva, one of the field producers and a professional jazz singer, told me during an interview.

The research project I conducted in St. Petersburg has greatly helped my understanding of Russian culture. Moreover, my language skills have improved dramatically. No matter what topic I had looked into, I would have learned a great deal. However, the fact that I was researching something I love made my summer adventure in St. Petersburg a more enjoyable and meaningful experience.

Fall 2017 Issue Featured News: Russian Studies

Russian Studies: Environmentalism in St. Petersburg

Environmentalism in St. Petersburg

Melanie Carter (Interdisciplinary Studies, ’19)

link to film

St. Petersburg 1

This past summer I spent six weeks in St. Petersburg, Russia as part of the Reves Center’s study abroad program.  Beyond the typical language immersion, classroom experience, homestay accommodation, and cultural excursions, we conducted a research project in collaboration with Russian students from the St. Petersburg State University of Film and Television. At first, I was overwhelmed by the concept of doing a video project because I had never filmed or created anything cinematically before, but we learned from Swem Library media specialist Cindy Centeno, who assisted us in Russia for the first few weeks.

The topic for my project was originally just the St. Petersburg Dam, which is a massive structure that closes off the part of the Gulf of Finland near St. Petersburg from the rest of the Gulf to protect the city from flooding. Program Director Professor Alexander Prokhorov suggested the idea to me and I decided to read more about the dam. As I began my research, I realized that there had to be an environmental impact from the structure, so I decided to change my topic to the St. Petersburg Dam and Environmentalism. At first, I could only find information on positive aspects of the dam, but then I continued my research with interviews in St. Petersburg. Both an architect and a professor raved about the dam. However, I knew this could not be the whole story. The rest of the narrative emerged one morning when I was talking to my Russian professor before class started about my project. He told me the phrase “damba – gorodu amba,” which he translated as “the dam is the end of the city.” I researched this saying and found an online interview detailing the negative effects of the dam. From there my research took off.St. Petersburg 2

Taking almost six months to complete, this was certainly the largest project I have ever undertaken, yet it was also my most rewarding endeavor. I learned so much about the history of St. Petersburg from my research, my interviewees, and talking with Russian university students. The collaboration with the students was by far the most valuable experience, because it required overcoming a language barrier and made cross-cultural exchange possible among our peer group. Watching all of the completed films recently was a proud moment for me as well and it made our entire group very nostalgic.


Fall 2017 Issue Featured News: Russian Studies

Russian Studies: The Politics of Soviet Cuisine

The Politics of Soviet Cuisine

Arianna Afsari (Russian and Hispanic Studies, ’19)

link to film

Soviet Cuisine 1Gastronomy is one of the most significant qualities that defines culture, for it possesses the power to narrate the history, and even the politics, of those who eat it. Given that nutrition is such an ordinary part of quotidian life, people rarely contemplate the deeper cultural implications that cuisine embodies, nor is much thought given to the politics of food. After conducting some preliminary research about the legacy of Soviet cuisine and the history of the Stalinist cookbook, The Book of Tasty and Healthy Food (1939), I went to St. Petersburg, Russia this past summer to further investigate my topic through interviews with various people in the food industry and everyday cooks at home.

Over the course of my six-week study abroad program organized by the Reves Center at William & Mary, I learned more about people’s personal experiences, memories, and nostalgia for Soviet cuisine, and subsequently, I recognized their understanding of the cookbook and of food as vehicles for promoting and securing Soviet propaganda. The Book of Tasty and Healthy Food was an essential tool for promoting the Soviet Union’s political agenda, and the same politicization of food still persists today in both the private and public spheres of modern day St. Petersburg.Soviet Cuisine 2

I had the pleasure of taking my knowledge of Russian language to a whole new level by conducting interviews with various people in St. Petersburg. The documentation of these oral histories was paramount to my research as I spoke with a wide range of Russians, including host mothers, restaurant chefs, and even the brand manager of a chain of Soviet cafes. Despite the harsh Soviet reality of breadlines, persistent scarcity, and, at times, starvation, the cookbook still enjoys popularity today among Russians who are nostalgic for the Soviet Union, or at least for the various staple Soviet dishes that defined the era. I emerged from my research with a better understanding of the cultural amnesia that surrounds memories of food during the Soviet era. People have an inevitable tendency to bury unpleasant recollections in favor of happier ones, and consequently romanticize a past that was much harsher than the rose-colored version of it they wish to remember. At the end of my research I also concluded that food is more than simple alimentation; it is culture, politics, and identity.

Fall 2017 Issue Featured News: Japanese Studies

Japanese Studies: On the Trading Floor in Tokyo

On the Trading Floor in Tokyo

Xinyi Wang (Finance and Applied Math, ’18))

Xinyi Wang

One of our students, Ms. Xinyi Wang, experienced an in-depth 10-week internship program at Morgan Stanley’s Institutional Equity Division in Tokyo this summer. She received the internship opportunity from Boston Career Forum, which provides an annual opportunity in Boston every November for Japanese and English bilingual students who seek either an internship or a full-time job in Japan. She has lived in the Japanese House on the William and Mary campus for two years. During her time at the college, Ms. Wang has worked as the W&M President of Japanese Culture Association and was a TA for Japanese 101 and 102.

Ms. Wang submitted her entry application and résumé in early September and participated in two telephone interviews before attending the forum. During the actual career forum, she was invited to a networking dinner with other selected applicants as well as current employees and got her offer after a short face-to-face interview at Morgan Stanley’s booth the next day. A particular requirement of the Morgan Stanley Tokyo office was fluency in business-level Japanese (which I will be offering as JAPN 402 this next semester) and English. Ms. Wang was not native to either language but had sufficient competency to win her the internship.

During the 10 weeks of that internship, she rotated among four different desks on the sales and trading floor, shadowed employees during market hours and worked after hours on her designated internship project. Although she did find the work schedule to be a bit daunting, the work day possibly starting as early as 6 am and extending to 8 pm, such hours were similar at other area investment banks.Trading Floor Desk

Morgan Stanley management and staff perceived the internship program as highly beneficial, and it was reflected through their policies. Ms. Wang was pleased to enjoy a free service apartment, a refund of the cost of her flight, and a regular stipend. Employees were also extremely helpful and supportive. She was able to schedule short Starbucks talks or lunches with staff members. Sometimes interns were even invited to casual get-togethers with staff after work.

According to Ms. Wang, she wants to pursue a career in finance in Tokyo after she graduates from William and Mary. She states, “I had a really great time in Tokyo and at MS, and this internship really inspired me to find a job in Tokyo after my graduation.”

Trading floors for IED:

Trading Floor




Fall 2017 Issue Featured News: Japanese Studies

Japanese Studies: Once Upon a Time in Japan

Once Upon a Time in Japan

Yunjie Zhang (International Relations and Global Studies ’20)


Akita 1Yunjie Zhang is a very active participant in the Japanese Culture Association and in the Japanese Language House, where he resides on the William and Mary Campus. He has been taking several high level Japanese language courses, ranging from the 200-400 level, and many different Japanese content courses. He had the exciting opportunity to participate in the three-week seminar, Once Upon a Time in Japan.

The Once Upon a Time in Japan traveling history seminar was a valuable, enriching and amazing experience. Presented by Akita International University (AIU), the three-week history and traveling seminar introduced me valuable learning experiences outside of the classroom. We spent one week inside AIU visiting historic sites in Akita while learning the foundation of Japanese history. During the remaining two weeks of the seminar, we visited eight cities with stops at several temples, castles and museums.

Lessons from the textbook and multimedia learning tools came to life during as we visited historic sites and discovered how history was narrated under a particular purpose.  Not only was the seminar education, but it was also fun! We climbed to the top of Osaka Castle, experienced Buddhist lifestyle at a temple in Kyoto, explored Chinatown in Nagasaki, and made traditional dishes in Akita. The entire traveling seminar was extremely inspiring and fun.Akita 2

The highlight of the seminar was exploring reasons behind certain narratives of history.  History is not only about what happened, but it is also about who could tell the story under what circumstances.  Thus, I am inspired to examine the “hidden” parts of history and, if possible, to decrease the hatred that originates from those narratives.

I recommend Once Upon a Time in Japan to anyone who is interested in Japanese history or culture. It’s also a great fit for those who simply want to travel, attend the seminar, and enjoy the fabulous, three-week experience in Japan!

Akita 3

Fall 2017 Issue Featured News: Japanese Studies

Japanese Studies: Teaching the Art of Ikebana at W&M

Teaching the Art of Ikebana at W&M

 Kado (華道) Demonstration Impressed Attendees with “…the Beauty of Simplicity.”

Kado 1

On Wednesday, November 29th, from 5 to 6 pm in the Japanese house, Kado Instructor, Ryoko Vogel from Okinawa, Japan presented a hands-on exploration of what she has been teaching for 6 years─ the intricacies of Ikebana.

Ikebana is the art of flower arranging (華道) to heighten the appeal of a vase and to use flowers to represent heaven, earth and humanity. The tea ceremony and flower arranging have traditionally gone together, with the objective of expressing purity and simplicity rather than creating something of elegant beauty. Flower arrangement seeks to create a harmony of linear construction, rhythm and color in which the vase, the stems, leaves and branches are part of the art form as well as the flowers. (

Kado photo 2Harmony (和) is a key concept of Japanese culture, and is one of the many principles of Zen Buddhism, along with minimalism, contemplation, simplicity and emptiness. These are also the concepts inherent in Kado. Thus, the demonstration challenged participants to be mindful of Zen values as they created works of art that they could keep.

One surprised attendee commented that “Ikebana sounded simple initially to me, just about pretty flowers and putting them in random places, but in reality we have to think about aesthetics and where the style comes from.” But as they worked under the close guidance of their talented and patient instructor, participants discovered that “simplicity of design” requires unexpectedly challenging attention to details as well as close focus on and integration of Zen principles.Kado photo 3

Ultimately, their efforts resulted in extremely satisfying works of floral art that participants took home with them.  These floral embodiment’s of Japanese tradition and philosophy will serve as lovely reminders of the experience and of Kado. When the creations were done and the lively discussion had subsided, participants partook of complementary Japanese cakes, snacks and green tea.

*Ryoko Vogel is currently planning an Ikebana flower show next year in Virginia Beach at the Japanese Language House.

Fall 2017 Issue Featured News: Italian Studies

Italian Studies: Contextualizing Family History

Contextualizing Family History

Jacopo Gliozzi (Physics and Mathematics, ’19)


Sergio Class 1

Fascism is a word that we hear a lot in today’s climate. Especially on a politically conscious campus like William and Mary, the label of Fascist is applied often enough that it’s hard to keep track of what the word means exactly. That’s why, when browsing Open Course List last spring, a class titled “Fascism in Italy” caught my eye.


I was looking for the latest installment of my bi-annual humanities class, a strategy I’ve used to take a break from my physics major and stay on top of the COLL requirements. Besides the political relevance of first half of the course title, the second half piqued my curiosity for personal reasons. I was born in Italy and moved to the U.S. when I was four. While Italian language and culture have always been present in my home, I have always felt a little lacking in historical context. Through “Fascism in Italy,” my first course in the Italian department, I aimed to reconnect with the collective past of my parents and grandparents.


The course is a chronological study of the Fascist movement in Italy and its ramifications, starting from the unification of Italy and ending with Neo-Fascism today. Class discussions are rooted in various historical sources and, more commonly, critical analyses of these sources. Professor Sergio Ferrarese, who created the course, explains that his goal is to provide students with the critical tools to interpret Fascism as both a specific Italian phenomenon and a broader movement.


Now is the perfect time for a class on Fascism, according to Prof. Ferrarese, because the word is thrown around constantly in American political discourse. “When I was younger,” he continues, “I called anyone that didn’t share my political beliefs a fascist.” As he grew more experienced, Prof. Ferrarese learned the importance of applying the term properly, and his aim now is to share this perspective with his students.Sergio Class 2


A crucial aspect of “Fascism in Italy” is its interdisciplinary nature: as a COLL 200 anchored in the ALV domain but extending to CSI, the course utilizes a variety of perspectives to study Fascism. Throughout the semester, we have looked at the phenomenon in art, architecture, historical documents, speeches, film, philosophy, and critical theory. Prof. Ferrarese has a background in philosophy, but his vast knowledge of the history of the Italian peninsula makes for discussions that appeal to many different types of students.


For Prof. Ferrarese, this is another important reason for the creation of the class. Unlike most of the other courses in the Italian department, “Fascism in Italy” is taught in English to reach the widest audience of students possible. The ability to critically interpret information, especially of a political nature, is extremely valuable, and this course is a means of imparting it to students. Teaching a new class every two years is a personal goal of Prof. Ferrarese, who credits the undergraduate focus at William and Mary for constantly challenging professors to adapt and research new subjects. “Fascism in Italy” has been just that: a fresh course, tailored to today’s world and open to all students.



Fall 2017 Issue Featured News: Italian Studies

Italian Studies: Summer Internship in Pavia

Summer Internship in Pavia

Tyler Mlakar (International Relations,’19)


PaviaPerhaps one of the most stressful tasks that students face during their time at the College of William and Mary is the search for summer internships. Summer internships are of major importance for both graduate school applications and post-graduation job opportunities.  Students are always trying to surpass their peers in order to get the most prestigious internships through GPA and extra-curricular involvement. While these are important, I believe the key to discovering an incredible internship opportunity is to study a different language.

During the past summer, I interned for R2M Solutions, which is an international innovation technology transfer company with corporate headquarters in Pavia, Italy. The location of R2M perfectly complemented my studies, as I currently study the Italian language for my international relations major here at William and Mary. In fact, the main reason I was chosen by R2M was because I am a native English speaker and study the Italian language. Most of their work is focused on European Union (E.U.) policy programs. In the E.U., nearly every important international business or policy document is in English. However, at R2M Solutions, most employees are native Italian speakers, and struggle – to an extent – with the English writing tasks required by E.U. policy documents. Because of my background as a native English speaker and my ability to communicate well with my co-workers in Italian, I was able to provide assistance in writing these documents.

The working environment I was a part of in Italy was much different than what I was used to in America. The starting time was very flexible, I was not required to come into work until 9 am, and even then many of my co-workers would come in later, sometimes not even until 10 am. We would usually take a lunch break together at a nice restaurant and sit down to converse and eat, sometimes for hours. Upon finishing lunch we would all take a coffee break.  In Italy, the coffee of choice is espresso, which is drunk from a very small glass. When getting coffee in Italy, it is common practice to remain standing at the coffee bar, and once served, immediately drink the near boiling water all at once. The coffee in Italy had a very strong kick; one espresso and I would be going for hours on end. After the coffee break, we would all head back to the office, work for about an hour, and then converse for the rest of the day before heading home at around 5 pm. Amazingly, we still accomplished a lot in that short amount of time of actual work. To sum up my working experience in Italy, it was much more relaxed and friendly than that of the United States. I talked to several of my co-workers about this and they told me that it is common place in Italy to be more relaxed in the work atmosphere. They told me that Americans work too hard and don’t enjoy life, and that was one of the main takeaways I carry with me from my experience in Italy.

In addition to the necessity of the Italian language in the workplace, it was even more useful for my day-to-day life in Pavia. I lived in a small apartment with a native Italian speaker named Marcello. He spoke almost no English, so in order to communicate with him I had to speak almost exclusively in Italian. Marcello was a brilliant chef, every meal that he made I can

My experience with R2M Solutions provided me with insight on the importance of studying another language. Through my study of Italian at William and Mary, I not only gained a valuable professional experience abroad, but also gained many new friends of which I will never forget. I would recommend studying a foreign language and spending time abroad using that language to everyone I know.still remember to this day because it was the best food I have ever had. I met several of Marcello’s friends and through doing so gained a lot of valuable social skills and confidence in speaking a foreign language. Many of the Italians I met during my internship I still keep in contact with today. Marcello traveled with me to many places in Italy, and gave me personal tours of places such as Rome, Florence, and his home in Lake Como. Going to these places with an Italian native was an incredible experience because I learned much more than I otherwise would have about the Italian culture.

Fall 2017 Issue Featured News: French & Francophone Studies News: Hispanic Studies

French and Francophone Studies/Hispanic Studies: Experiences in Granada

Experiences in Granada, Spain

Julie Luecke (French and Francophone Studies, ’20)


IMG-20170627-WA0002In 2014, I spent three days in Granada, Spain, with a family I had known growing up. I distinctly remember walking around the fountain at los Reyes Católicos, the main square in Granada, with braids in my hair but not a single Spanish word in my mouth. I learned a few simple phrases (like no puedo ver–extremely useful for trying to watch TV with 5 younger children), but I swore I’d come back one day when I could truly appreciate the city by speaking its language (and ordering at Los Italianos, a gelato shop, by myself).

Three years later, I sat at the base of the same fountain at los Reyes Católicos with braids in my hair with my three host sisters, giggling and exclaiming at each other en español.

Through the Charles Center, I had received a grant to do cultural research in Granada, the final Moorish stronghold in the 1400s. In order to communicate with participants in my research though, I had to get a hold on the Spanish language. I had taken French all through high school (and am now a French major), so I was able to take accelerated Spanish classes with absolutely incredible professors: Profesora Carrion in the fall and Profesor Terukina in the spring.

Originally, I only took Spanish classes in order to conduct my research in Spain, but I loved class so much (especially thanks to two of my classmates, Will and Diana, who made having class EVERY MORNING at 9am bearable) that I decided to continue upon my return to the states. In Spanish 207 this fall with Profesora Baker, I remember turning in my first essay in Spanish, thinking, wow, just over a year later, I am capable of producing a coherent, persuasive, work in a language I had promised myself years ago that I would learn. It wasn’t particularly complex, but I was proud of my small feat on the way to fluency.Luecke 2

Unfortunately, I have to take next semester off Spanish classes as I study in Morocco, though I hope to continue its usage, especially in the Northern part of the country. I’ve still never ordered at Los Italianos by myself though, so it looks like I must take a small detour to Spain to visit my host family and their beautiful city again.

Fall 2017 Issue Featured News: Hispanic Studies

Hispanic Studies: Hispanic Studies Students Meet Pulitzer Grantee Journalist

Hispanic Studies Students Meet Pulitzer Center Grantee Journalist

–This collaborative article was authored by the Hispanic Studies 208 students in Cate-Arries’ class.



As part of a class unit on investigative journalism, immigration, and refugees in the Spanish-speaking world, students in Professor Cate-Arries Fall 2017 Hispanic Studies 208 course met with the award-winning freelance long-form journalist Malia Politzer during her October campus visit to William and Mary.Malia Politzer 840x410

 Politzer (b. 1983, San José, California; B.A. Hampshire College; M.S. Columbia University) has made a name for herself by reporting on the international refugee crisis, including Europe’s primary migration corridor from North Africa to Spain, and regularly publishing her articles in The Economist, Wall Street Journal Asia, Foreign Policy Magazine and Institute of Current World Affairs Letters. Currently based in Spain where she is pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Granada, Politzer spent the past two years traveling in Niger, Sicily, Turkey, and Germany for her 2016 Huffington Post Highline piece, “The 21st Century Gold Rush: How the Refugee Crisis is Changing the World Economy,” awarded the “2017 Overseas Press Club Award for Best Digital Reporting on International Affairs”. (

In her lecture, Politzer opened with the statistic that there are 22.5 million refugees worldwide (“the most refugees we’ve had since WWII”), and her ensuing remarks point to her success in putting a human face on this daunting, growing number of refugees. When asked about her most inspiring, memorable encounter with one of these displaced individuals, Politzer immediately responded with the story of a Syrian refugee in Turkey, Muhammed. She “fell in love” with the incredibly intelligent boy who loved learning, teaching himself computer programing at a young age, who now no longer had access to formal schooling.

Recognizing that at times it is difficult to see how her investigative reporting “makes a difference” given the often staggering scale of hardship that her informants endure, Politzer did recall with satisfaction her coverage of the case of Mexican immigrant Oscar Vasquez, a “Dreamer before the Dream Act.” Vasquez came to the U.S. as a child, was one of four undocumented Phoenix high school students whose 2004 underwater robotics team beat out MIT in a national competition, and completed his mechanical engineering degree as a ROTC student at Arizona State University. However, without documentation Vasquez was unable to accept the engineering job offers he received. Married, with a child, he returned to Mexico in an effort to legalize his status in the U.S., but received a 10-year penalty for his undocumented status in the U.S., and was unable to reenter the country. Politzer’s piece about the Vasquez family’s plight attracted the attention of a senator, who took up the case, and sponsored Vasquez on his path to U.S. citizenship ( Politzer remarked that often her stories address large issues with abstract resolutions, so this particular outcome was a gratifying moment for her, because of the direct impact that her reporting had on Oscar’s situation.CateArriesHISP208ClassPhoto

One of the most compelling facets of Politzer’s coverage of the refugee crisis, and of her and “The 21st c. Gold Rush” photographer Emily Kassie’s efforts to document refugee economies, is their challenge to the conventional narrative about refugees as passive victims and huddled masses, with no agency. Her stories include accounts of refugees’ creative incursions into local economies, sometimes benefiting the quality of life for the larger refugee community. A common thread among these actors on the world stage of the crisis of displaced persons, according to Politzer, is that they are “engaged in making economic decisions about their lives. They aren’t just waiting helplessly to do things, they’re actually actively participating.” On the other hand, Politzer warns, many people have “figured out how to profit from global instability, also known as human suffering,” and as long as this phenomenon continues, it is hard to see an end to the refugee crisis.



Fall 2017 Issue Featured News: Arabic Studies

Arabic Studies: Threads of Identity

Threads of Identity

Emma Russell (Government and Global Studies, ’19)

I spent the summer 2017 studying Arabic at the Qasid Institute in Amman, Jordan and volunteered 20 hours a week as a research assistant at “Tiraz Widad Kawar; Home for Arab Dress”. Widad Kawar, the owner of the museum collection, began preserving dresses when she was young. Growing up in Bethlehem she noticed the decreasing presence of traditional dresses and stitch patterns. What began as a hobby to collect beautiful dresses soon quickly became an active attempt to collect and preserve rare dresses before their stories were forgotten. The storage rooms of “Tiraz Widad Kawar; Home for Arab Dress” house the largest collection of both Palestinian and Jordanian dress, and also the largest collection of Syrian dress outside of the country. Through the material and stitch patterns of these dresses, researchers can trace the political, social, and cultural history of specific villages through time. Tiraz worked not only to educate the public about traditional dresses and artifacts, but also held workshops to teach groups the traditional stitch patterns and dyeing techniques that have become nearly obsolete in the face of mass manufacturing. In this way Tiraz not only preserves the past, but also actively works to ensure a future for traditional techniques.

IMG_8552My physical tasks at Tiraz were to help to remove Tiraz’s “Ya Hafeth Ya Ameen” temporary exhibit that exhibited protective silver adornments and talismans, followed by curating the new exhibit featuring a massive art installation entitled “Thirst for Solidarity” by the Naqsh Collective. I also was also delegated the creation of a Google Arts and Culture page and the maintenance of Facebook posts for advertisement purposes. At the end of my eight weeks, we hosted a large opening night event where hundreds of people came to see the new exhibit. The culmination of our effort was rewarded by all the people who were able to reconnect to their ancestral traditional culture and also learn about other cultures.

While at Tiraz I was also conducting my Monroe Research which focused on the traditional dresses of North Galilee.  My researched investigated the systemic fear that forced Palestinian women, the transmitters of their own culture, to sell their identities as embodied by traditional dresses. My research told the story not only of the dresses that have been successfully preserved by Tiraz, but also the story of the dresses that were lost.  I analyzed Galilee’s social and political climate that redefined the value of dresses which were essential to an identity of being no more than objects of trade, forcing the Galilee people to put a price on their culture for survival.IMG_8589

These dresses I researched were often labors of love that took months of intricate embroidery to create. Palestinian dresses can show familial lineage to particular villages, wealth, marriage status, and even religion based only upon the patterns of stitch and material. Each dress represents the Palestinian culture and individual story of the owner. Through my research, I wanted to reveal the historical context and the extreme pressure that would have led women to selling dresses that were so essential to their personal identity. Through my work at Tiraz and my research, I hoped to bring awareness to the continued need to preserve historical and modern Palestinian culture before it is all exchanged for the safety of assimilation.

Widad was a huge source of support throughout my research. She would frequently invite me to her home for lunch to discuss my progress and assign me new books to read. She read my complete research, gave me edits, and fact checked all my information. Leaving Tiraz I felt empowered, motivated, and enriched from my experience. I had learned so much, contributed to Tiraz’s beautiful mission, and found a family amongst the other interns.


Fall 2017 Issue Featured News: Chinese Studies

Chinese Studies: Experiencing China

Experiencing China

Sophia Wischnewski (Chinese Studies, ’20)


IMG_2568The Journey Begins

My experience traveling along the journey piqued my curiosity about the new world I was soon to encounter. From the time I was enrolled in a Chinese immersion program at 10 years old, I could only dream of visiting one of the world’s most powerful nations. Nine years later, my dream became reality. William and Mary’s brief immersion program gave me the opportunity to see China outside of my previous Chinese language and culture courses. However, I’ve come to find that reading about China and briefly living in China are completely different.

My first day in Beijing was riddled with culture shock. I was obligated to become independent, and that alone truly helped by forcing me to use my language skills. With out the comforts of Google Translate, I had to figure out the meaning of words on my own. I will always remember the word 厕所 (restroom) because of this experience.

The Real China

I visited four cities in China: Yanjiao, Baotou, Beijing, and Zhuhai. All were completely different. They all had different dialects and words. I thought it was a challenge to understand people in the southern and northern states in the U.S., but now I feel that China, as a nation, is not only a master in the art of Kung Fu, but also a master of languages for being able to understand so many dialects.

I had the opportunity to stay with my friend and her family for a week and a half before returning to Beijing. Since my friend Sally was the only one who spoke any English, I had to speak in Chinese with her family. Sally was strict with me in that she not only refused to give me a fork and learn to eat with chopsticks, but also encouraged me to use my language skills outside of her home as well. I felt that living with her and meeting other people were the greatest experiences I have had in my time learning Chinese.

IMG_4335I not only experienced the language, but the culture as well. During my stay I developed a cold and was brought to the doctor. Traditional Chinese medicine is still a common practice among modern medical solutions. Instead of prescribing me pills or syrup for my symptoms, the doctor looked directly into my eyes and advised me to drink a hot cup of water before going to bed and getting up in the morning. He said I needed more rest and time to get accustomed to the environment. All he gave me was root juice as a vitamin. I was told later by my friend’s mother that Chinese people believe that harmony between one’s diet and life style habits is the essence of good health. Sure enough, after a delicious home-cooked dinner, hot water, and rest, I was in even better health then I was in the U.S.

Chinese vs. American Cultures

Aside from learning about Chinese culture, I thought a lot about modern American culture in the process of learning Chinese. I reflected on how much I, just one person, was representing my own country while being a part of China’s society. I learned China believes in symbolism, so everything created acquires a unique purpose. I also noted that the U.S also associates itself as a symbol of freedom. I found this ideal American concept to be quite fascinating during the program. Not only did the American college and high school students extensively pursue their desires during the time in Beijing, but they also expressed the same American mentality of freedom in their accomplishments.

When I was in Beijing, I noticed differences between Chinese and American college students. A sense of destructiveness and a wild spirit was the impression given off by Americans, especially for the younger generation. During student events, such as the talent show, both American and Chinese students were encouraged to share a talent which embraced a bit of their cultural background. The two groups did very different performances. The acts performed by American students generally included songs about partying, individuality, and carefree actions. This music alone could potentially create misunderstandings of Americans, but it also helps spread American culture and American representation on a global scale. The Chinese music performed was a mixture of Chinese folk and modern day songs. The beats were slow, and the notes were long and drawn out. It created a tranquil ambience along with a happy atmosphere from common themes of love, inspiration, fortune, and tranquility in the lyrics.IMG_4787

The Journey Continues…

I learned so much in so little time. I feel like I cannot fully to express my feelings about my experience in China. The food, the places, and the friendships I’ve made are too valuable to be measured and conveyed into a single paper, and yet, that alone reveals how much this trip has impacted my thoughts and my future.

Fall 2017 Issue Featured News: German Studies

German Studies: Working with Refugees in Vienna

Working with Refugees in Vienna

Kathryn Eckler (Religious Studies, Minor in Biology, ’19)



EcklerThe past year has been a profound international adventure. In February, I was presented with the opportunity of serving as an intern with an international Baptist Church in Vienna, Austria. Projekt: Gemeinde is a Baptist Church that serves Middle-Eastern Refugees, Latino populations, and local German speaking families and students. Not only would this be an international experience in Austria, I would be working with people from all over the Globe..

I was stationed in Vienna for a total of two months. My duties as an intern included teaching theology courses for Iranian and Afghani refugees. On the average week, I would teach between thirty to sixty refugees. I taught in English, and my lessons were translated into Farsi or German. In addition to teaching, I also helped to meet the physical needs of the people around me. One of the church buildings was under construction, so I would cook lunches for the men working on the project. Gathering around a table with Europe’s refugees provided me with a humbling perspective. I came to appreciate those who have survived times of crisis, and I learned how to care for those who feel ostracized by society.

My experience in Austria has led me to consider the impact that I can have on society. As a Religious Studies Major, I will continue to create awareness for the intersections between Christianity and times of global crisis.



Fall 2017 Issue Featured News: German Studies

German Studies: Working on a Sustainable Farm in Swabia

Working on a Sustainable Farm in Swabia

Sebastian Viscuso (German Studies and International Relations ’19)


In planning my study abroad, I wanted to have as many new experiences with the German language as possible. Since my study abroad ended after only 6 weeks, I decided to investigate other options for either studying or working while overseas. My research led me to WWOOF, an international educational organization dedicated to supporting worldwide, sustainable agriculture. WWOOF provides its members with a list of organic farms that need labor. I ended up living at Schwalbenhof, a small farm in Baden-Württemberg. On the farm I felt less like a worker and more like a member of a small, tight-knit community. Everyone who lived there participated in the daily work, ate meals family-style, and went on excursions together. While I learned a tremendous amount of German in this immersion environment, I also learned real skills such as harvesting, planting, weeding, herding animals, washing vegetables, and working at farmers markets. I would absolutely recommend this type of study abroad as an option for anyone looking to gain life-long memories and learn some German along the way.


Fall 2017 Issue Featured News: French & Francophone Studies

French and Francophone Studies: Editing a Criminal Law and Policy Journal in D.C.

Editing a Criminal Law and Policy Journal in D.C.

Zarine Kharazian (Government and French and Francophone Studies, ’17)


Zarine KharazianZarine Kharazian currently works as a legal assistant at the Washington, DC law firm of Berliner, Corcoran, and Rowe. Part of her job is to serve as assistant editor of International Enforcement Law Reporter, a monthly criminal law and policy journal that reports on the developments in the international enforcement law field, ranging from anti-money laundering policies to EU data protection directives. She uses her French periodically when writing articles or blog posts for the journal that draw on primary French sources, such as agency press releases and court filings. Kharazian says that the skills she honed while doing research for her honors are helpful to her on a daily day, particularly the ability to read academic scholarship critically, identify gaps in existing literature, and formulate novel arguments in the articles she writes for the journal she edits. Recently, she submitted an article based on her honors thesis (Yet Another French Exception: The Legal, Cultural, and Political Dimensions of France’s Support for the Digital Right to Be Forgotten) for the European Data Protection Law Review‘s Young Scholar’s Award, a competition normally for graduate students, and article was ranked as one of the three best papers among the submissions. As a result, Kharazian’s paper will be published in the upcoming issue of the EDPL. She has also been invited to present a paper at the Computers, Privacy, and Data Protection Conference to be held in Brussels in January 2018.