Dr. Stella Xu awarded Freeman Fellowship and named Rising Star in Korean Studies

Salem, Va. - Dr. Stella Xu, an assistant professor of history at Roanoke College who specializes in East Asian Studies, has won a prestigious Freeman Fellowship to travel and study in China this summer.

Also, she recently was named a Rising Star in Korean Studies.

As a recipient of the Freeman Fellowship, Xu and four Roanoke students will travel to China May 22 to June 12 to do research for a project, "Reinvented Tradition in the Age of Globalization: The Silk Road and its Legacy in Contemporary China." The Roanoke team will travel from Beijing to Xi'an to Dunhuang to conduct research.

They are one of only 14 research teams chosen from a pool of national competitors, and they are the first Roanoke team to receive the fellowship. The ASIA Network, a consortium of more than 170 North American colleges, awards this highly competitive $24,900 fellowship grant.

Xu said this research trip will give her students, Kathleen Ouyang, a senior from Potomac, Md., Mathilda Nassar, a freshman from Midlothian, Zachary Hottel, a senior from Woodstock, and Thomas Emerson, a junior from Salem, an opportunity to connect with the relevance of everyday life in China.

It offers experiential learning and probably will be "the most precious experience in their college life," Xu said.

The trip is more notable since these students have not had long-term research experience or study abroad experience, she said. Xu expects the fellowship to enhance the students' interests in pursuing graduate school or careers in international affairs.

On-the-ground research in China will enrich the lives of the students, strengthen their research skills and expand their understanding of the country, both past and present, said Dr. Whitney Leeson, chair of Roanoke's history department.

"The award will also increase our students' awareness of East Asian Studies, a concentration Dr. Xu has worked tirelessly to promote since her arrival on our campus in 2006," she said.

The four students and Xu worked through the application process together and began preparing the paperwork last year. Their research varies from studying the National Museum of China to Chinese traditional medicine to Buddhism and Christianity in contemporary China.

The students will present their research during the ASIA Network's annual conference in March 2013 in Nashville, Tenn. and at Roanoke College during the 2012-13 school year. From last August through December, the students worked hard pulling together as a team and coming up with common themes for the trip, she said.

"I'm very proud of them," said Xu, who was born in China and attended graduate school in Korea and the United States.

Xu also was invited to attend the Rising Stars of Korean Studies Workshop to be held at the University of Southern California in October 2012. At the workshop, Xu will present two of her past projects at this seminar where scholars share their research in Korean studies as a way to produce manuscripts, make contact with prominent senior scholars and become settled in academia, Xu said. She hopes to publish her projects' findings after the seminar.

One of Xu's projects is about Kim Kyusik, a Roanoke College graduate from 1903 who became one of the leaders in Korean independence movement. Kim Kyusik served as vice president of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korean from 1940 to 1945 and is remembered as the "Thomas Jefferson" of Korea.

Her second project centers on the cultural interaction of China from the second century BC to the sixth century AD.

Released: March 23, 2012
Contact Name: Public Relations
Contact Phone: (540) 375-2282
Contact Email: gereaux@roanoke.edu