In Class News

September 16, 2019 at 11:04 am

Nguyen, Sakach Study Vietnamese, Burmese at Summer Institute

Mark Sakach (far left) and An Nguyen (third from left) with the Gamelan team. Alumna Nona Kurniani Norris MA ’99 (front-row, fifth-left) is one of the Indonesian instructors at SEASSI. (third-left) with the Gamelan team. Alumna Nona Kurniani Norris MA ’99 (front-row, fifth-left) is one of the Indonesian instructors at SEASSI.

Graduate students An Nguyen and Mark Sakach participated in the South East Asian Studies Summer Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison this summer.

Nguyen and Sakach are students in the M.A. in Applied Linguistics program at Ohio University.

Sakach was awarded the competitive Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) scholarship to study Vietnamese at SEASSI. This scholarship is offered to American citizens that show promise in foreign studies research, particularly for those students studying less commonly taught languages.

Nguyen was awarded a tuition scholarship through the University of Wisconsin to study Burmese.

SEASSI offers eight-week intensive language courses for all of the major Southeast Asian languages. The language courses are heavily condensed, amounting to two semesters of study within those eight weeks. In addition to language study, a myriad of cultural activities relevant to Southeast Asia are offered at the summer institute.

Javanese Gamelan performance. The Javanese Gamelan class is offered for free to all students enrolled in SEASSI.

Javanese Gamelan performance. The Javanese Gamelan class is offered for free to all students enrolled in SEASSI.

For Sakach and Nguyen, the summer program in Wisconsin was a unique opportunity to experience intensive language learning from the student’s perspective. They participated in a Javanese Gamelan course taught by a resident musicologist, got involved in a foreign language poetry night, and attended a student conference. They even acted in a short film in Vietnamese. It’s a film noir homage to Polansky’s Chinatown. Sakach plays a lawyer and An is a member of the jury in a gripping courtroom drama about the abduction of a family of tadpoles. It ends not with the classic line: “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown” but “Forget it, it’s Catfishtown.”.=

Dr. David Bell, Associate Professor and Chair of Linguistics, called it “a brilliant example of how innovative and how much fun language learning can be.”

Mark Sakach (right) and his teachers and classmates at SEASSI.

Mark Sakach (right) and his teachers and classmates at SEASSI.

At SEASSI, Nguyen and Sakach met OHIO alumna Nona Kurniani Norris, M.A. Linguistics ’99. Kurniani teaches Indonesian at the summer institute and is the Coordinator of Southeast Asian Languages Program and  Lecturer of Indonesian at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, based in Washington, D.C.

“SEASSI was a great chance to meet with some of the researchers that are passionate about all kinds of Southeast Asian stuff. Outside of class there were all kinds of opportunities to discuss and share ideas about their areas of interest. I’m sure that I met some people this summer that I am likely to collaborate with in the future,” Sakach said.

The Vietnamese class having a potluck with the Vietnamese community in Madison

The Vietnamese class having a potluck with the Vietnamese community in Madison.

“I’m amazed that we were able to speak the language after only 8 weeks. SEASSI actually started at OHIO University in 1983, and I feel privileged to be a part of its continuation,” Nguyen added.

Undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to apply to SEASSI. A variety of funding opportunities are available to students interested in our program. Visit SEASSI for more information and how to apply.

The Center for International Studies‘ African and Asian Language Programs at OHIO also offers Thai, Khmer, and Indonesian for those interested in Southeast Asian languages. Contact Pittaya Paladroi-Shane at paladroi@ohio.edu to learn more about Southeast Asian languages offered at OHIO.

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