Claremont, Calif. (May 2, 2016)—Pitzer College student Crystal Sin ’19 received two scholarships to study in China this summer: a Freeman-ASIA award and a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. The programs, administered by the Institute of International Education, seek to strengthen intercultural understanding and prepare students for a global economy by increasing the number of students who can study abroad.
Sin’s family history fostered a lifelong fascination with the language, history and culture of China. Her maternal grandparents are from China, but they met in Cambodia when the country was under the rule of the Khmer Rouge. They learned Cambodian to avoid Pol Pot regime’s persecution of Mandarin speakers before escaping to the US when Sin’s mother was a teenager. Through the generations, Mandarin fluency in Sin’s family waned. Sin grew up speaking English, making communication with her Mandarin- and Cambodian-speaking grandparents difficult.
“I wish to study abroad in China to explore the land of my ancestors and to learn Mandarin in order to communicate with those of my culture,” Sin said.
A first-year Pitzer student, Sin plans to major in Asian studies while fulfilling pre-med requirements; she wants to become an optometrist and use the language skills she develops studying abroad this summer in her chosen career.
“Mandarin fluency is rare within the medical spheres,” said Sin, who is interning at an optometrist’s office this semester. “As an optometrist, I will utilize Mandarin in my profession to help families who struggle with English and provide them sight to see the world with eyes unclouded.”
Sin is also concerned about air pollution in China and has researched the problem with Professor of Chemistry Kathleen Purvis-Roberts, who analyzes the impact of particulate matter on the environment and will craft environmental Asian Pacific policies with the US Department of State next year through a Jefferson Science Fellowship.
Freeman-ASIA, also known as Freeman Awards for Study in Asia, aims to increase the number of US citizens and permanent residents with first-hand understanding of Asia, its people and cultures. The award supports US-based undergraduates with demonstrated financial need who plan to study overseas in East or Southeast Asia. From 2001 through the 2013 academic year, Freeman-ASIA supported 4,500 US undergrads from more than 600 institutions. After a hiatus, the Institute of International Education (IIE) re-launched the program this year with funding from the Freeman Foundation.
The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship program supports US undergraduates who might otherwise not study abroad due to financial constraints. More than 1,150 American undergraduate students from 377 colleges and universities across the US won 2016 Gilman International Scholarships, which are sponsored by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by IIE.