2020 Department Newsletter

Message from the Chair
Program Spotlights
Program Kudos
Alumni Updates/Class Notes
Donor Recognition

Message from the Chair

Immanual Kim

Immanuel Kim
Acting Chair, East Asian Languages and Literatures Department



The year 2020 will certainly be one that most people won’t forget. Despite the many challenges posed by the pandemic, our faculty continue to deliver engaging classes to the students and creatively reach out to the wider community. Shortly before the onset of the pandemic, we organized the last in-person event of the year, a lecture by Professor Erica Brindley of Penn State University on the topic of “Cultural Changes in Han Times.” Since then we have organized a series of summer Japanese pedagogy workshops; a lecture by Professor Yuhang Li of the University of Wisconsin; the 28th Hahn Moo-Sook Colloquium; and J.LIVE Talk 2020, a Japanese presentation competition.

These were all delivered virtually. Although the current world is restrictive in many ways, it also affords us new opportunities to engage virtually with people from all over the world. We highly encourage you to take part in our activities. If, for instance, you would like to talk to our current students about your profession, expertise or how you achieved your success, please let us know. Your visit to our classes could be only a click away!

Best wishes,
Immanuel Kim
Acting Chair


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Program Spotlights

Chinese Program's Curriculum Development and Pedagogical Innovations


Graphic with images of course materials from Chinese classes

The five new Chinese courses added this past year

The Chinese program focused on curriculum development and pedagogical innovations in the past year. Five new courses have been added: CHIN 4201 Special Topics in Advanced Chinese; CHIN 3151 Developing Chinese Literacy; CHIN 3116 Language Policy of China; CHIN 6115 Chinese Sociolinguistics; and CHIN 3175W Dream of the Red Chamber. These new courses, four of which are already offered with the fifth coming soon, greatly enhance the options for students in the Chinese BA and MA degree programs. The Chinese faculty have been engaged in pedagogical innovations to adapt to new challenges and demands. Course delivery is enhanced with the latest collaborative, interactive technological tools. Meanwhile, existing teaching materials have been largely updated and new educational resources have been created. With these exciting additions and innovations, the Chinese program further strengthens its position as a leader in Chinese studies in the greater Washington, D.C., area.

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GW’s Sixth Annual J.LIVE Talk


Junior Lorenz Vargas wins the J.Live higher college gold award

Junior Lorenz Vargas wins the J.Live higher college gold award.

The final round of George Washington University’s sixth annual J.LIVE Talk was held on Saturday, November 14, via Zoom and live streamed to YouTube. For the first time ever, the national presentation contest was open to both college-level Japanese learners and high-school learners of Japanese. The nine finalists were selected from among 47 applicants hailing from 10 states and the District of Columbia. Though usually held on the GW campus, difficulties arising from the COVID-19 pandemic caused us to hold the event entirely online. Yet this challenge offered participants a unique opportunity to develop and display both their presentation skills and language abilities in a real-time, online format. The finalists delivered their dynamic presentations to a distinguished panel of judges and an audience of more than 800 viewers watching live on YouTube. GW’s Lorenz Vargas, a major in Japanese, won the gold award in the higher college category. The title of his presentation was “Shall we dance with Corona?” Six alumni—Rickie Ashman, BBA '11, Andrew Frenkel, BA '15, Mark Keegan, BA '88, Clark Munson, BA '03, Irene Mutwiri, BA '18 and Chieko Quigley, BA '16—sent short video messages. Thanks to all!

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Our Virtual Korean Language Table


Student participants from the Language Table

Student participants from the Language Table

In the fall semester, the Korean faculty led the Korean Language Table through Zoom, which allowed students to practice their Korean. We had more than 15 students join us at any given week! One of those weeks, we celebrated Hangul Day, which is the commemoration of the creation of the Korean alphabet. The faculty held a contest that challenged the students to draw a Korean word in an artistic way. This spring semester, we are excited to have Insung Ko offer a new course, Intro to the History of Korean Language, and Immanuel Kim offer the course North Korean Society and Culture.

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Program Kudos

  • We are pleased to welcome to the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures our new faculty member, Brendan Morley. Dr. Morley received his PhD in Japanese from the University of California, Berkeley, and his MA in Asian studies from the University of Oregon. Since 2019, he has been a visiting assistant professor of Japanese at GW. He was previously a visiting lecturer in Japanese at Stanford University. His work on poetry and diplomacy in ancient Japan has appeared in scholarly publications including the Journal of the American Oriental Society.
  • Jonathan Chaves contributed to Where the Truth Lies: The Art of Qiu Ying (Prestel, 2020), the first Western-language publication on the 16th century Chinese artist Qiu Ying.
  • Matt Coss was awarded both ‘Best of FLANC’ (Foreign Language Association of North Carolina) and ‘FLANC Top 10 Sessions’ for presentations titled, “See Think Wonder Speak: How to Get the Most Out of Authentic Images” and “The Ins and Outs of Performance-Based Assessment.”
  • Insung Ko published an e-book called Power Up! Korean Vocabulary, which is available on Amazon.
  • Immanuel Kim published his second manuscript, Laughing North Koreans: Culture of the Film Industry, and translated a North Korean novel titled Friend. He was also featured by BBC Mundo in the article, “Corea del Norte: el best-seller que arroja luz sobre la hermética sociedad del país asiático” and was cited by The New York Times in the article “A Novel from North Korea Offers Glimpses of the Everyday.
  • Young-Key Kim-Renaud was quoted by Japan Today in the article “N Korea’s plight may give Japan’s next PM chance to meet leader Kim.”
  • Younkyung Kang completed the STARTALK Performance Assessment Training Program and worked on creating a library guide for Korean program students.
  • Miok Pak was invited by the East Asia National Resource Center to give a talk titled “Understanding Korean from cross-linguistic and cultural perspectives.”
  • Takae Tsujioka received a $20,000 grant from the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission for J.LIVE Talk 2020.
  • Dr. Hang Zhang and Yirui Xie, one of our graduate students in the MA in Chinese Language & Culture program, published a research paper “Coarticulation Effects of Contour Tones in Second Language Chinese” in the journal of Chinese as Second Language Research.

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Class Notes

Hannah Corn, BA ’18, is an associate with the Unreasonable Group and received a U.S.-China Fulbright grant to conduct research on the upward mobility of female migrant workers in an urbanizing and gendered labor market in Beijing and Xian, China. 

Lilly Gilmour, BA ’06, has recently joined the Ahold Delhaize U.S. Strategy Team as a senior manager.

Laura Lentin, BA ’12, moved to China to teach for two years after graduating. She is currently a high school teacher in New York City. 

Nathan Madson, BA ’08, finished his PhD in cultural anthropology at New York University, researching queer activism and human rights in Hong Kong.

Dr. Richard Pegg, BA ’83, MA ’90, is currently the director of the Maclean Collection Map Library and separate Asian Art Museum in northern Illinois. He recently co-launched the "Mapping a World of Cities" website.

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Donor Recognition


The East Asian Languages and Literatures Department would like to gratefully acknowledge the following generous donors who made a gift to the department from July 1, 2019 – December 31, 2020.

+ Faculty/Staff | # Parent | ~ Student | * Friend

Deloitte Foundation

Schwab Charitable Fund


Katherine Alesio ~ 

Yukiko Asano *

Carol Balding #

Michael Balding #

Nancy Belsinger, BA ’68

Dr. Jonathan Chaves + #

Christina Djossa-Ahoelete, BA ’14

Iana Robert Everhart, BA ’14

Kumiko Gale *

Toshiko Hamaguchi *

Dr. Shoko Hamano +

Andrew Herron, BA ’04

Elina Hum *

Dr. Young-Key Kim-Renaud +

Yoko Lawless *

Yasue Oguro *

Motoko Omori *

Todd Platek, Esq., BA ’74

Dr. Bertrand Renaud *

Trevor Robbins, BA ’12

Yuki Sako *

Kirstin Sandquist, BA ’06

Jacob Santoni *

Kumi Sato *

Mitsuyo Sato +

Kaori Shimizu *

Aoi Takai *

Rivere Thomas *

Nichole Tsuruta *

Kyoko Vaughan *

Yuki Waugh *

Yukiho Yamaguchi *

Dr. Phyllis Zhang +

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