News News: German Studies Spring 2013

Tyler Bembenek (International Relations and German Studies, ’15) receives first Gates Scholarship for Summer Study Abroad

German Studies and International Relations major Tyler Bembenek (’15) has been awarded the first Gates Scholarship for Summer Study Abroad. The scholarship, made possible by William and Mary Chancellor Robert M. Gates (’65) and his wife Rebecca, is a merit-based award that enables outstanding W&M students to pursue their field of study during the summer. Tyler elected to study medieval history at St. Peter’s College, Oxford, during the summer of 2013. “The English tutorial system has definitely helped me develop my research skills,” Bembenek said: “Now I have more confidence initiating my own research and engaging with academic sources outside of my comfort zone.” In the spring of 2013, Tyler was able to meet with Chancellor Gates, whom he sees as a model of serving the nation. Congratulations Tyler!

News: Italian Studies Spring 2013

A Year in the Italian House

People might ask you: what does it feel like living in the Italian House? Guys, it feels great. Seriously. The year 2012-2013 was particularly full of events and activities. Besides an overwhelmingly funny and playful atmosphere, the I-House has even more to offer. It’s all about Italian culture, Italian language, Italian cinema, Italian food (…well, to be precise, it’s A LOT about Italian food). We hope that the I-House is an unforgettable academic and personal experience for our residents and students. You start the academic year living with 23 strangers; 9 months later, you find yourself living with your new family.

This year we cooked a lot: we offered 19 cooking classes, we had aperitivo-style gatherings, pizza parties, and a lot of Italian desserts.


 1.We made pizza from scratch.


2.We prepared parmigiana di melanza


3. …and bruschette.


4. We ate a whole lot of pasta: tomatoes, basil, olive oil. That’s all we need.


5. We offered cannoli at our FAMILY WEEKEND OPEN HOUSE.


6. Students and residents made tiramisu’ from scratch.


7. And we had the pleasure to serve four different types of desserts on INTERNATIONAL DESSERT NIGHT.


8. Finally, we had monthly potlucks: food was never enough J.


We watched 22 movies in total: many different genres were chosen, in order to show how varied and interesting Italian cinema is. Neorealism, commedia all’italiana, drama films, even a horror movie. Many of the movies we watched, let’s not forget it, won Academy Awards. Together we familiarized ourselves with Roberto Benigni, Giuseppe Tornatore, Marcello Mastroianni, Gabriele Salvatores, Massimo Troisi, only to mention a few,


9.  10. 11.  12.  13.

We threw parties, we organized open houses and gatherings, and we had I-House volleyball  and basketball teams.


14. Language Houses Volleyball Tournament.


15. European Houses Carnival Party.


16. Christmas Surprise Party.


17. I-House Create-Your-Own-Pizza Party.


18. I-House table at the International Dinner Night.


We awarded our best residents each month and  gave them prizes. We painted two murals. We built our own community made of little big things, but especially made of the best people.


19. Get your I-House 2012-2013 button!


20. Our RA Julie’s bulletin board: “Perche’ siamo orgogliosi di essere italiani?”


21. Don’t you agree?


22. Two of our residents are going abroad!


23. Our (little) Venice.


24. “L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle”, Dante PARADISO XXXIII, 145.


25. Our last three Residents of the Month with their prizes

News News: Russian Studies Spring 2013

Russian Olympics

On Saturday, March 23rd, students and faculty of the Russian Language department congregated for the first ever Russian Language Olympics at the College of William and Mary. The games, held in honor of Russia’s hosting of the 2014 winter Olympics in the city of Sochi, were the site of fierce, but fair, competition by Russian students of all abilities.

The event was organized from scratch by the students of Victoria Kim’s RUSN 306 class over the first half of the spring semester.Each level (1st, 2nd, and 3rd years) of students faced off for exclusive prizes, such as authentic Russian spoons, official Russian Language Olympic t-shirts and mugs, and of course, beloved Cheburashka dolls. The students competed in a jeopardy tournament, a short film contest, and a poetry recitation competition, respectively. Punctuated by brief breaks for pizza, trivia, and the screening of promotional videos for the Sochi Olympics, the event went off almost entirely without a hitch – the only exception being the Great Firewall of China prevented a “skyping in” of junior Rachel Faith.

In the end, almost every one of the 60 or so students and faculty in attendance went home with a prize or souvenir. The poetry contest in particular, where 3rd year students gave a short presentation on a famous Russian poet and then recited, first, Pushkin’s classic “I loved you,” and then a poem of their choice, revealed highly developed Russian skills and made a profound impression on the audience. In fact, some members of the audience were moved to tears by a stirring rendition of  “Babi Yar” by junior Jessica Parks.

The undeniably fun event concluded in true Olympic fashion with the extinguishing of the Olympic torch… for now!

News News: Japanese Studies Spring 2013

W&M Alum, Chris Bubb, Passes Top Level on Japanese Language Test

Hi, everyone. I’m Chris Bubb, a 2010 graduate of the College and former W&M Japanese student. Recently, I was excited to have passed the Japanese Language Proficiency Test top level N1 exam. Below I share some of my experiences with the Japanese language at W&M and post-graduation, as well as suggestions for improving your Japanese ability.

On the road 2009
On the road 2009

Japanese Study at W&M

When it came time to choose a foreign language to take at the College, Japanese caught my eye as something that had become available for me to formally study for the first time, as it wasn’t offered at my high school. Being part of one of the first real generations of “gamers,” I knew of the existence of Japan from a very young age. I had even gone so far as to independently study kana while dabbling in a bit of Japanese grammar when I was in middle and high school. I enrolled in Japanese 101 at W&M, and in summer of 2009, spent a few weeks studying at a university in Osaka, Japan. This trip was a huge influence on my Japanese language study, and allowed me to make quite a few friends (from Japan and elsewhere) whom I stay in close contact with to this day. And I think that’s really a huge part in developing proficiency in Japanese, or any language for that matter: using it to communicate with other people. I know it may sound obvious, but actually physically communicating is really something that I cannot stress enough.

Working in Japan

My elementary school class
My elementary school class

In August of 2010, I moved to Japan to teach English. This was quite possibly the most exciting experience of my life. This is where foreign language goes from being a worksheet that you need to finish for class tomorrow to being the only way you’re going to get paid. The “moment of truth” came when I made my first trip to the post office in the tiny, one-road town that I lived in when I first moved here. The need to communicate to simply survive in this new setting was enough motivation to try to develop fluency in Japanese while living here. Not to mention that an overwhelming percentage of the population of Japan speaks Japanese exclusively, so getting along with coworkers and those outside of work requires a certain level of Japanese proficiency as well. You would not believe how much friendlier people are when they discover that you can communicate in their language. It’s an incredibly satisfying feeling for everyone involved, and something I hope everyone gets a chance to experience.

Improving Your Japanese

A drawing by one of my students
A drawing by one of my students

As a student at W&M, I was able to create a solid foundation for my Japanese ability, and as an English instructor living and working in Japan, I was able to put it into practice daily with my friends and coworkers and develop that ability further. What I suggest that you do is use Japanese like your life depends on it. Find someone with whom you feel comfortable speaking Japanese and speak with them all the time, every day if you can. Take risks and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The mistakes you make in your classes and conversations will correct themselves in time. The important thing is that you were able to use Japanese to communicate with another individual. This is where your proficiency will ultimately come from. Unfortunately, there is no “eureka!” moment, no moment of epiphany, so you may not notice a change in your own ability right away, but keep at it. Use what you learned in class over and over and over. Unlike scientists and mathematicians, linguists don’t have the luxury of going to their notes in the middle of a conversation. That’s why you need to use your Japanese at every opportunity.

In my case, when I would speak Japanese, I had to first think in English, translate it to Japanese, and then physically say the Japanese words. This takes quite a while, especially in the middle of a conversation. But what if you were to skip that second step? This is huge. I can’t say when it happened, but there was a day when I woke up and realized that I needed to begin thinking in Japanese if I was going to get any better at speaking it. Now, I know I said there was no “eureka!” moment, but this isn’t something that I was able to do overnight. This is something that you yourself must actively do every single day. And this may sound crazy, but one of the best ways to get yourself to think in Japanese is to communicate with yourself in Japanese.

Try phrases like: 「えーっと、日本語(にほんご)宿題(しゅくだい)(なん)だったっけ?」(Uh, what was the Japanese homework again?) or

「はぁ、(つか)れたぁ、ちょっとだけ昼寝(ひるね)しようかなぁ」(Whew, I’m exhausted, I should take a little nap).

This will make speaking with others in Japanese more natural because, for you, Japanese never stops! You can also do this a bit more proactively. Just find a clip from a Japanese TV show or song that you enjoy (they’re all over the internet), listen for a phrase that you know and just say it over and over aloud to yourself. Write it down to remember it if you have to. It doesn’t even have to be overly difficult; I personally watched a ton of children’s television programs when I first moved to Japan simply because I knew I could understand them. I ended up repeating things so often that I would be teased by the Japanese-speakers whom I was with. But that’s okay! Your room for growth in Japanese all depends on how much work you are willing to put into it both in and outside of the classroom. That doesn’t mean, however, that the “work” you put in can’t be enjoyable. For as embarrassing as speaking to yourself or even talking with your classmates in Japanese may seem, I can guarantee that any amount of experience you get communicating in the language will benefit your Japanese ability in the long run. Your professors are giving you all the tools you need; it’s your turn to use those tools and build on your Japanese language skills. You’re all capable of doing great things with Japanese!


Chris Bubb (W&M 2010)

News News: German Studies Spring 2013

(Ful-)Brightening Students’ Futures in German Studies at W&M

Brandon De Graaf, recipient of the Austrian Government English Teaching Assistantship, administered by the Fulbright Commission, with Professor Rob Leventhal at the MLL Graduation Ceremony
Brandon De Graaf, recipient of the Austrian Government English Teaching Assistantship, administered by the Fulbright Commission, with Professor Rob Leventhal at the MLL Graduation Ceremony

Students of the German Studies Program at William and Mary have had remarkable success in winning major international fellowships over the last decade. This year, Judd Peverall (German Studies and Philosophy, ’13) and Libby Hennemuth (Hispanic Studies and Government, ’13) were awarded the highly prestigious Fulbright ETA Fellowship to Germany, and Brandon De Graaf (German Studies and History, ’13) received an Austrian Government Teaching Assistantship, which is administered by the Fulbright Commission. In addition, Evan French is the first student at the College to be awarded a DAAD RISE Scholarship for a paid internship in software engineering in Hamburg, Germany, and Emma Paynter (Government and International Relations, ‘13) also received a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship to Germany.

Evan French, recipient of the prestigious DAAD RISE Internship, will be in Hamburg interning for a software firm. DAAD is the German Foreign Academic Exchange Service.
Evan French, recipient of the prestigious DAAD RISE Internship, will be in Hamburg interning for a software firm. DAAD is the German Foreign Academic Exchange Service.

These are the kinds of events which can change a student’s life, and they represent an immense personal and professional advantage for them as well as great publicity for the College. Since 1999, some 30 German Studies students at the College have been awarded Fulbright German or Austrian ETA or Research fellowships, or other major international awards of similar standing.

The German Studies students must naturally get the greatest credit here, and they are an extraordinary group. But the German Studies Section works very hard to prepare them for these types of opportunities and put them in a position where they can make their qualities known. Since 1999, the German Studies section has had a conscious, deliberate and sustained policy of preparing students to compete for these fellowships. To be sure, German Studies does not do it alone, and Lisa Grimes and the Charles Center, in particular, deserve a great deal of credit for their great support of German Studies.

William & Mary is one of the best colleges in North America, but few people know it is also one of the best places for German Studies. This is one of the many areas where William and Mary excels, without great fanfare and with only extremely moderate resources.

Judd Peverall (German Studies and Philosophy, ’13), recipient of one of three Fulbright ETAs to Germany this year
Judd Peverall (German Studies and Philosophy, ’13), recipient of one of three Fulbright ETAs to Germany this year


List of Major Fellowships in German Studies


  • Judd Peverall — Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany
  • Brandon Travis De Graaf — Austrian Government Teaching Assistantship
  • Libby Hennmemuth — Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany
  • Emma Paynter — Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany
Grace Brennan
Grace Brennan


  • Grace Brennan — Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany
  • Sarah Salino-Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany


  • Monica LoBue — Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany
  • Claire Chapman — Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany
  • Ariana Berger — CBYX Scholarship in Germany for 2011-2012
    Continuing on with Standard & Poors


  • Christopher Consolino — Fulbright Research Fellowship for Germany (History)
  • Katelyn Andell — Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany
  • Pete Gianannino — Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany
  • Katie Sumner — Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany
  • John Palenski — Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany
    Austrian Government Teaching Fellowship (declined)
    William and Mary Law


  • Faith App — Austrian Government Teaching Fellowship
  • Lauren Shaw — Austrian Government Teaching Fellowship
  • Rachael Simons-Austrian Government Teaching Fellowship
    Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany (declined)
  • Dustin Smith-Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany
    Admitted to Graduate Program in German Studies with full support, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne (deferred)


  • Kasey Hutson (’07)  — Austrian Government Teaching Fellowship
    Graduate Study at Washington University of St. Louis in German Studies
  • Carolyn Osinski (’07) — Austrian Government Teaching Fellowship
    Graduate Study at Georgetown University with full support
  • Olivia Lucas (’07) — Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany
    Graduate Student in Music at Harvard
  • Naomi Dreyer (’06) — Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany (2007 graduate)


  • Amy Benoit — Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany
  • Lenore Cebulski — DAAD scholarship for one year of study at Maximilian University of Munich
  • Amanda Norris — Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany


  • Amy Kuenker — Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany
  • Catherine Reynolds (’05) — Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany


  • Kate Pierce-McManamon — Fulbright Research Fellowship for Germany
    Graduate school, Technical University of Brandenburg, Cottbus, Germany with an MA in World Heritage Studies, Historical Management and Administration, 2008
  • Alana Seifts — Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany
    Currently Lieutenant, USArmy and William & Mary Law School


  • Jessica Telhorster — Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany


  • Marc Landry — Austrian Government Teaching Fellowship
  • Jay Miller — Fulbright Research Fellowship for Germany
  • Lauren Nelson — Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany


  • Emily Knight — Fulbright Teaching Fellowship for Germany
News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2013

Hispanic Studies Career Fair

On February 25, 2013, the Hispanic Studies Program hosted a career-panel for majors and potential majors. The panel, which was the result of engaged dialog between the Cohen Career Center and faculty in Hispanic Studies, featured four outstanding Hispanic Studies alums: Sara Gilmer (State Department), John Cipperly (National Center for State Courts), Jennifer Primeggia (physician) and Maybelline Mendoza (MBA student in Marketing and Development). These four alums agreed to come back to William and Mary to talk about their career choices, to discuss how their decision to major in Hispanic Studies has influenced their career paths and opportunities. Here is a video interview with Prof. Jonathan Arries about the event and its impact.

The event was an enormous success! Roughly twenty-five current and would-be majors listened attentively to stories and advice from alums in the fields of medicine, business, government and social services. Our students, as always, shined with provocative, thoughtful questions and were treated to insightful, considered answers from successful practitioners who were able to express in precise terms how their work in Hispanic Studies had prepared them to negotiate linguistic and cultural situations but also how Hispanic Studies had given them the necessary tools for engaged, critical thought in a wide variety of professional situations. After the panel, students were invited to stick around for a reception where they were able to spend time chatting-with and getting to know our alums and vice-versa. The event is a model for the powerful synergy between Hispanic Studies faculty, alums and the Cohen Career Center and was, without a doubt, one of the highlights of the spring semester.

News News: Chinese Studies Spring 2013

Senior Forum Highlights Student Research about Science in China

Science has played a key role in Chinese conceptions of what it means to be modern. Inspired, dazzled, and even threatened by the West’s scientific revolution and its pivotal role in spurring industrial modernity, Chinese thinkers sought to bring the concepts and methods of Western science into Chinese society, industry, and statecraft. The insistence upon science as a mode of knowledge key to modernization has spanned China’s own historical development from the late-nineteenth century to the present day – from the intellectuals’ slogan of the 1920s extolling the virtues of “Mr. Science and Mr. Democracy,” to the present day Chinese obsession with space exploration, the culture of science, or “scientism,” has penetrated almost all spheres of Chinese life.

Visiting Assistant Professor Emily Wilcox devoted her Fall 2012 senior seminar to the topic of “China and the Scientific Imagination.” As students read scholarship concerning the social role of science, much of it in Chinese, they also produced original research papers on a topic of their own choosing. In Spring, these students returned to their papers and revised their findings. This culminated in the Chinese Majors Senior Forum, held on April 19, 2013. Seven students presented their findings to an audience of classmates, faculty, friends, and supporters.

Associate Professor Miranda Brown, a specialist in early Chinese literature and history from the Department of Asian Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan, delivered the keynote address: “Reflections on the Origins of Chinese Prophylaxis: The Ills That Do Not Ail,” derived from her book manuscript in progress on the history of Chinese medicine. Prof. Brown’s talk examined the origin of a key principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): preventative measures to avoid illness before they arise and produce symptoms.

According to Dr. Brown, the notion of asymptomatic illness, and the idea that special measures can be taken to prevent it, derived from texts and manuals of statecraft dating back from the Warring States Period (475-221 BCE). Among the many texts she examined, she paid special attention to the manual of statecraft known as Master Hanfei (Hanfei zi, third century BCE). The notion of hidden, invisible diseases, and the need to act against them before they caused harm, served as rhetorical parables that illustrated the need for governments to act preemptively against possible threats to the state rather than wait until these threats had already inflicted damage. The idea of asymptomatic illness and prophylaxis thus originally began as an extended metaphor to describe effective statecraft. By the Han Dynasty (206 BCD-220 CE), however, medical prophylaxis began to transform from a witty metaphor to an actual clinical practice, and would subsequently shape the whole of TCM to the present day.

Following Dr. Brown’s presentation the students presented their work in two panels, with Dr. Brown as discussant. The first panel consisted of four presentations. Bonnie Beckner, a double major in Chinese and Linguistics, examined the origins of the neo-Confucian term “ge wu” (“the investigation of things”) that arose in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). Suggesting that ge wu marked the beginnings of a kind of thinking that can be characterized as “scientific,” she explored how this principle was exhibited by naturalist Li Shizhen (1518-1593) in his encyclopedic compendium of medical knowledge, the Bencao gangmu. Max Rozycki, a double major in Economics, explored the topic of monetary inflation in the Song Dynasty. Mr. Rozycki argued that inflation could have been prevented in the Song Dynasty if the state had issued bonds; however, traditional taboos about the state being in obligation to private owners of debt prevented the Chinese state from ever adopting bonds as a form of revenue collection. Dereck Chapman, a double major in Government, explored the role of scientism as it pertains to the developing notion of the modern Chinese citizen. Employing insights from the philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche and Hannah Arendt, Mr. Chapman explored how the Chinese state organized a modern citizenry. Inho Kim, a double major in Economics, explored the meanings of qi, variably translated as “vital breath” or “material force,” and a key concept in Chinese medical and cosmological thought. Mr. Kim explored whether the existence of qi could be proved, and to what extent the existence of qi depended not so much on its actual empirical manifestation, but instead as a function of collective belief and practice.

The second panel featured three papers. Elizabeth Goldemen, a double major in Government, explored the relationship between Communist politics and the development of paleoanthropology and genetics in modern China. She noted the different ways in which the political goals of nation building shaped the trajectories of these two sciences. Clayton Kenerson, a double major in Finance, presented independent research conducted under the guidance of Prof. Yanfang Tang on the sources and consequences of the Chinese real estate bubble. Kevin Mahoney, also a double major in finance, spoke about the rise of microblogging (in particular, the site Sina Weibo) in China, and how the phenomenal popularity of celebrity microblogs constitute a contentious space for political expression and legitimacy.

While the theme of science and society unified most of the forum papers, the students’ own particular disciplinary interests drove their projects. For Ms. Beckner, her work in linguistics led her to trace a particular term, “ge wu,” through Chinese philosophical and medical texts. After graduation, she will teach English for two years in Hangzhou, a scenic town an hour away from Shanghai and a one-time imperial capital. After that, she “will probably come back to (the States) for graduate school.” She hopes the time abroad will help her focus her scholarly interests.

Mr. Mahoney, who studied Finance in addition to Chinese, was more drawn to recent developments in Chinese social media. Although trying to keep up with the latest digital Chinese slang was sometimes difficult, he found the research exciting: “It was a lot of fun. I actually spent more time than I need to reading (blog posts) because it’s actually kind of fun seeing what they’re talking about.” While Mr. Mahoney has one more semester left at WM in order to finish up his finance degree, he will spend the upcoming summer interning in Hong Kong. After graduation, he’d like to work in China, and then is thinking about eventually pursuing a law degree in combination with an MBA. Whatever he chooses to do, he hopes to incorporate what he has learned at WM. “I’d still work with China and use my language skills,” said Mr. Mahoney.

The Chinese Seniors Major Forum allowed WM students to demonstrate how four years of hard work in Chinese language study, coupled with studies in Chinese culture and society, as well as immersion in China study abroad programs, were instrumental in developing their own research projects. They exhibited the College’s goals in greater internationalization as well as modeled the kinds of interdisciplinary work the College is encouraging. Prof. Wilcox’s close work with her students displayed the kinds of mentor-intensive experiences the Modern Languages and Literatures Department has always emphasized in its pedagogy. This year’s seniors are now setting off to pursue new adventures and continued opportunities for learning and discovery.

News News: French & Francophone Studies Spring 2013

Fête de la Recherche

An annual “Fête de la Recherche” (faites de la recherche!) features the student research that takes place at the core of the French & Francophone Studies program. Students often present projects from their studies abroad in Montpellier, France, as well as longer papers written in association with I.F.E internships in Paris, Bruxelles, and Strasbourg. Other talks frequently showcase independent Monroe projects and senior honors theses.

Here are short video clips from our 2012 Fête de la Recherche:

The full conference programs can be found here