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Learning and Discovery in Japan

March 10, 2009 at 2:16 pm

While studying abroad in Japan this year, Lauren Burkhart '10 of Kensington, California, has learned about the country's unique customs and traditions through classes, concerts, festivals, and exhibits. She has furthered her understanding of Japanese society in less expected ways…conversing with an elderly woman at a shopping arcade while eating okonomiyaki, sitting beneath an overhang at Tō-ji temple with a local tourist to escape the pouring rain, and riding a crowded subway train to Arashiyama.

"Whatever I miss by being away from my home institution is made up for by the color of my surroundings and the fullness with which I can experience them," she says. "All this would not be possible without the financial support I receive from Carleton, which includes the C.V. Starr Scholarship."

Burkhart is currently one of several students involved in Asian studies at Carleton selected to receive a C.V. Starr Scholarship. Since 1987, Carleton has been the recipient of C.V. Starr Scholarship funds from the Starr Foundation. These funds support the College's Asian studies program, designed to promote a wide variety of courses and programs aimed at appreciating and understanding the richness, variety, and values of past and present Asian cultures.

Burkhart, who has been learning Japanese since middle school, knew she would continue her language study at Carleton. Her decision to pursue a Japanese major was cemented by the opportunity to study abroad for a full year in Kyoto, Japan. She notes, "Knowing Japanese gives me access to an entire creative realm—art, literature, cinema, performing arts—I would otherwise never be able to explore and enjoy."

While living in Japan, she has also discovered a passion for communication, especially when it offers opportunities to be in contact with different cultures and manners of thinking. As such, she is considering a vocation as a translator, a field she knows will combine her interests in language, literature, linguistics, and writing.

"I am incredibly thankful that the C.V. Starr Scholarship is helping me afford my Carleton tuition and study abroad experience," she says. "This scholarship helps ease the financial burden on my parents and grandparents, and has also given me the economic freedom to afford music lessons and other opportunities at Carleton that have greatly enhanced my Carleton experience."