The Asian Studies Center at Pitt PARK(ing) Day

By Xinyu Zhang, Asian Studies Center Confucius Institute Intern


The Asian Studies Center hosted a Tea Tasting Activity for the fall semester’s 2019 Pitt PARK(ing) Day next to Wesley W. Posvar Hall on Friday, September 20th. It was a sunny afternoon, so a lot of students, faculty, and staff showed up during the event. The Center provided three kinds of tea: a Chinese tea, tie guan yin, a Japanese tea, and Korean barley tea. There were also various delicious Asian snacks, such as pineapple cakes and matcha flavored Pocky rods.

Passing students, faculty, and staff all enjoyed the tea and snacks. As we brewed and poured tea, we shared information about Asian tea culture and practices. People were able to choose various snacks to try while we served them too. The most popular tea was the Korean barley tea. A lot of people liked its strong, rich taste. As for snacks, most people liked the pineapple cakes, which are common treats in Taiwan and China. Some mentioned that they enjoyed the pineapple cake’s crispy, soft, and sweet flavors.

Overall, Pitt PARK(ing) Day was a great way to connect Asian Studies Center interns and faculty to those at the University who were unfamiliar with the Center. I had a great time meeting new faces.

Work as an Intern at the Asian Studies Center

By Weiping Xiao, Asian Studies Center Chinese Social Media Intern

My name is Weiping Xiao, and I am this academic year’s Chinese language social media intern for the Asian Studies Center. My position’s main task requires me overlooking numerous Chinese language-based social media accounts. Since the position, and fall semester, started slightly over a month ago, I have grown more excited to represent the Asian Studies Center for the year.

My primary duty involves me making posts for upcoming Asian Studies Center events and ASC related news on social media platforms, such as Weibo and Facebook. In order to better serve current Chinese-speaking students and attract prospective ones, I cooperate with different Centers throughout the University. To further attract more Chinese-speaking University students and incoming students, I plan to talk with readers and ask about their interests. By increasing the popularity of the accounts I manage, and in turn, increasing the turnout of Chinese students at the Center’s numerous events, I hope Chinese students, particularly international Chinese students, will become more engaged with the University. Initially, writing polished, simple news was hard. The first news post I made covered Dr. Maohong Bao’s lecture on the steel industry in East Asia. I consulted with Bliss, the former ASC intern, on what exact content to include. After that, I gradually figured out what to include in posts.

In addition to my main duties, I sometimes help set-up and clean up for events. For example, I assisted with the Professor Shunsaku Miyagi’s lecture by moving equipment from the Center to the Cathedral of Learning’s Humanities Center, laying out brochures, and guiding guests into the room. Through these lectures and events, I have learned that every successful public lecture cannot be held without a considerate preparation. These events broaden my vision by teaching me about topics I have never knew about before too.

My role at the Asian Studies Center pushes and challenges me every day. More importantly, it teaches me a lot about managing professional social media accounts, lets me practice writing through generating crafted posts, and pushes me to get more involved in campus life. As an intern for the Asian Studies Center, I am proud to represent an important part of the University of Pittsburgh and am grateful for all of the opportunities it has opened up for me so far.

Club Profile: Chinese Undergraduate Students Association (CUSA)

By Grace Dong, Asian Studies Center Events Coordinator


The Chinese Undergraduate Students Association, often referred to as CUSA, is a student-run club at the University of Pittsburgh that is dedicated to raising awareness about Chinese culture and aiding undergraduate Chinese students through their academic and daily lives. I learned about the club at one of its events for incoming Chinese students, which motivated me to continue attending future meetings. Now, CUSA is a significant part of my life as an undergraduate upperclassman, and I have grown to love the program during my time in it.

The club frequently hosts several activities throughout the school year. These activities and programs simultaneously help members meet other students in the University and help them spread awareness and appreciation for Chinese culture with the general student population. Past activities include selling mooncakes during Mid-Autumn Festival, guessing Lantern Riddles for Lantern Festival, and giving out Red Pockets filled with candies to celebrate Chinese New Year.

During the school year and summer session, CUSA also hosts three big annual events: a Mentor-Mentee Program, a Detective Escape Room event, and a “You Are the One” friend-meeting event. My personal favorite is the Mentor-Mentee Program. For the program, current members sign up as student mentors and eventually are paired with incoming Chinese students who have similar majors or interests. Mentors provide help not only in an academic sense but also help ease the transition of everyday life from high school to college. Besides giving advice on how to select the best courses and declare majors, mentors also bring their mentees grocery shopping, show them around Pittsburgh, and take them on trips to new restaurants.

I participated in the Mentor-Mentee Program as a freshman. For my mentor, I selected a girl who was enrolled in the same major program I wanted to apply to at the time. After my fall semester of freshman year, I became very close friends with my mentor. This past summer, I was accepted into the program thanks to her advice and support. My mentor and I are still very close. We often meet up to explore new bubble tea shops and spend time together outside of CUSA.

I have formed so many great friendships with people in the Chinese Undergraduate Students Association so far. The club is young but has so many passionate students who are driven to make it better for all undergraduate Chinese students. Current members hope the club will soon expand and be known as a place for fun and relaxation that is separate from the typical busy school life.

Interview with Stephen Wludarski

By Jenn Nguyen, Asian Studies Center Communications & Media Intern


Can you start with introducing yourself?

I’m Stephen Wuldarski, and I’m the NCTA (National Consortium for Teaching about Asia) Program Assistant. I work with Dr. Hughes and Dr. Jordan, and we help promote better teaching methods. We deal mainly with K through 12 educators and recommend resources and curriculum revisions to help them better teach about Asia, East Asia specifically. East Asia is an area that a lot of teachers tend to not know about, which makes it difficult for them to integrate East Asian related lessons into their curriculum. Our mission is to tear down common misconceptions about Asia and to promote integration about East Asia in multidisciplinary fields. Through a multidisciplinary approach, we’re trying to improve the teaching ability of teachers.

How exactly did you end up at the University of Pittsburgh?

I came to the Pitt as an undergraduate student and came here through a roundabout way. Pitt was not my first choice. I was accepted to colleges for foreign affairs and international relations in Washington, D.C. Due to personal reasons, I had to attend Pitt for a year or so. I ended up attending Pitt for my entire undergraduate career.

When I came to Pitt, although it’s a very big university and some people may be intimidated by that, when you find a place here or find something you’re interested in, that community becomes your family. When I came to Pitt, I found staff, particularly in Asian Studies, that were so willing to help, so interested in their fields, and willing to listen. They wanted to talk and wanted to engage.

At Pitt, I learned that anyone can build and join great communities here. People are so willing to help and so willing to go that extra step. It’s not impersonal. Through meeting and talking to people and being interested and engaged, anyone can make an impact here.

That’s how I feel about Pitt! It’s so big. There’s about 35,000 undergraduate students, but there are so many clubs and organizations. You can join whatever intrigues you and find a new family right away.

There’s a sense of community here, and I think that’s a really nice aspect of Pittsburgh. In some ways, this is a community where people look out for others. At the University, as big and intimidating as it is, every department has a home for students and people who will make sure they’re okay.

What interests you about East Asian studies? At the University of Pittsburgh, do you have a focus on a certain country or sub-topic within Asia?

I’ve been interested in Asia for awhile, even when I was in elementary school and middle school. In particular, I was interested in Japan. This started from watching Studio Ghibli films, such as Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Spirited Away. For some people, that’s where it stops, at the pop culture aspect. But for me, I was interested in answering the question, “What is the culture that produced these things?”

My area of interest is in Japan. Out of Japan, I became interested in China and Korea too. To truly understand Japan, you have to look at China and Korea and their influences.

What is a resource at the Asian Studies Center that you think students and faculty should use more?

The NCTA has a huge resource library dedicated to East Asia. If you work for the University Center for International Studies (UCIS), are a K-12 teacher, or even an Asian Studies Center intern, you can check out something from here. All of it is in English too. There are movies and books, including manga and children’s books. The library has fiction and non-fiction too. The library does not have only academic material.

When I think more broadly of a resource students should use more, I think of lectures. The Asian Studies Center hosts so many interesting lectures. When I was a student at Pitt, I went to a lot of them. Through lectures, I met a lot of Asian Studies Center staff and made connections with a lot of different departments throughout the University. When students attend lectures, they will learn a lot about specific topics and will make lasting impressions on staff and faculty. The Asian Studies Center faculty would love to talk and interact more with students because they are very passionate about the topics that they teach.

Welcoming International Students through the Pitt to You Program

by Anthony Gavazzi, Asian Studies Center Global Ambassador


Over the summer, I had the opportunity to visit Beijing and Shanghai, China with nine other Pitt to You ambassadors to welcome incoming international students and cultivate cross-cultural relationships that will last throughout the semester, and likely, for the rest of our lives. Immediately upon the ambassadors’ arrival in Beijing, it was apparent that our mentees’ familiarity with American college life varied greatly. Some had taken tours of Pitt’s campus or attended boarding schools in the States, some had taken short vacations to major U.S. cities, such as New York City, and others had never even set foot on U.S. soil. To ensure that this diverse group of students received a proper introduction to student life at the University of Pittsburgh, the ambassadors facilitated workshops to help mentees became acquainted with one another and with the university as a whole. The workshops included icebreakers, trivia, Q&A sessions, and a presentation about on-campus living at the university.

In addition to these activities, our group took cooking classes together and saw both the historical and modern wonders of China. In Beijing, we visited the Great Wall and the Summer Palace and practiced our bargaining skills at the famous Pearl Market. In Shanghai, we took a night cruise on the Huangpu River around the skyline and visited the Zhujiajiao water town, which is often affectionately referred to as China’s Venice. By the end of my journey in China, I had made new friends, tried new foods, and experienced a culture with vast differences from my own.

I have met several times with my mentees since their arrival to the University of Pittsburgh. They are all excited to be here and to begin their collegiate journeys. So far, all of them have joined clubs, made new friends, and excelled in their academic endeavors. I look forward to staying in touch with them and watching them adjust to life at the University of Pittsburgh, and I cannot be more grateful for the opportunity I have had to engage with them.

Asian Studies Center Welcome Reception

By Qinnuo (Emma) Li, Asian Studies Center International Associate

Welcome back to campus, everyone! After a beautiful summer, the Asian Studies Center (ASC) kicked off a new academic year by hosting its annual Welcome Reception at the Posvar Hall Patio on Thursday, August 29th. The reception began with a warm introduction by Dr. Armony, director of the University Center for International Studies (UCIS). Dr. Alter, director of the Asian Studies Center (ASC) gave a speech, introduced programs and projects that the ASC worked on during the last academic year and summer, highlighted staff and faculties’ accomplishments, and welcomed new interns and staff too.

Everyone at the Welcome Reception enjoyed trying delicious Asian food and desserts, watching two brilliant dance performances by Pitt Fresh Entertainment by Student Artists (FRESA), an on-campus club that choreographs dances to popular Asian pop songs, and meeting students and staff.

This year, the ASC is going to continue developing innovative research projects, fostering community engagement, and creating rigorous academic programs. It will host various events, such as an Asia Pop Speaker Series, which starts on September 5th, a Pittsburgh Global Town Hall on Climate, Gender, and Sustainability, scheduled for September 20th, and an Asia on Screen film series, which will start on September 30th. With a successful turnout for this year’s annual Welcome Reception, the Asian Studies Center is looking forward to its next chapter!

Welcome New Asian Studies Center Interns!

By Jenn Nguyen, Asian Studies Center Communications & Media Intern


Not pictured: Zhengjianing  (Grace) Dong 

Jennifer (Jenn) Nguyen is a 4th year undergraduate student with a double major in Political Science and English Writing: Nonfiction. She is the Communications and Media Intern for the Asian Studies Center for the 2019-2020 academic year. This year, she is most excited about being enrolled in The Sampsonia Way Experience (ENGCMP1906), which collaborates with City of Asylum to interview, craft, and polish publications for its online magazine, Sampsonia Way. In her free time, Jenn likes to watch food documentaries and go thrifting.

Xiao (Levi) Weiping is a 2nd year graduate student with a double major in International Political Economy and Information Sciences. This year, he is the Chinese Social Media Intern for the Asian Studies Center. This year at Pitt, he wants to sharpen his JAVA skills and is looking forward to working with the other interns at the Asian Studies Center. Outside of campus, Xiao enjoys going to the movies, attending opera shows, and exploring new bars.

Anthony Gavazzi is a 3rd year undergraduate student with a double major in Political Science and Communications Rhetoric and minors in both Chinese and German. He is the Asian Studies Center’s Global Ambassador for this academic year. For 2019-2020, he looks forward to taking more classes for his major and bonding with his residents. As a Pitt student, Anthony loves that public transportation is free because it gives him endless opportunities to try new restaurants and explore neighborhoods.

Zhengjianing (Grace) Dong is a 3rd year undergraduate student with a major in Rehabilitation Sciences and a minor in French. This year, she is the Events Coordinator for the Asian Studies Center. As the year progresses, she looks forward to meeting new faces through the Asian Studies Center internship while maintaining top-notch grades in the classroom. Outside of Pitt’s campus, Grace enjoys going to Mount Washington at night with friends to enjoy the popular scenic overlook of the city.

Xinyu Zhang is a 2nd year graduate student with a major in Foreign Language Education. This year, Xinyu is the Confucius Institute Intern for the Asian Studies Center and Confucius Institute. She is most excited to grow as an intern through developing and expanding on her responsibilities and skillset. In her free time, Xinyu enjoys exploring Schenley Park’s numerous fields and running through its trails.

Qinnuo (Emma) Li is a 2nd year undergraduate student with a double major in Computer Science and Communications. Emma is this year’s International Associate for the Asian Studies Center. As the schoolyear unfolds, she looks forwards to stepping out of her comfort zone by participating in more programs and extracurriculars that Pitt offers. When she isn’t in class, Emma enjoys exploring the Cathedral of Learning’s numerous Nationality Rooms.