AAS Member Spotlight: Giseung Lee

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Giseung Lee, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Lecturer in Japanese
Language pedagogy (Japanese & Korean); China, Japan, and Korea

Why did you join AAS and why would you recommend AAS to your colleagues?

I joined AAS in order to stay up to date on the most current research in Asian Studies as well as connect with other scholars around the world. AAS is an excellent professional affiliation for networking with scholars.
What do you enjoy most or what have been your most rewarding experiences involving your work in Asian Studies?

During my teaching career, I have learned that faculty members in North America are more like service providers for students rather than authority figures, compared to countries in Asia. I have written numerous recommendation letters to students for study abroad, scholarships and graduate school applications. When I find out that my little contributions could help students’ future careers, I feel rewarded.

Many students have become intrigued in learning Japanese or Korean languages thanks to pop culture. Some people are biased that pop culture has little influence on academic fields. However, it could be used as a motivating drive for recruiting future Asian Studies students. As media directly/indirectly reflects social issues, it is fascinating to see how media could be used a bridge between the East and West. I enjoy finding ways to use this connection between pop culture and social issues within my classes to keep students interested and engaged.
Tell us about your current or past research.

My current research project is on how to effectively implement assessments of second language learners’ proficiency using ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) standards, especially in Japanese and Korean languages. Also, finding correlations of passive patterns between Japanese and Korean languages is one of the primary research areas.
In the East Asian field of studies, I am currently gathering data for Hashima Island, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2015. This caused tension among China, Japan and Korea due to different interpretations of the rapid industrialization of Japan and forced labor of China and Korea during the Second World War. Hopefully, this research will help to alleviate these tensions and shed light on the impacts of Hashima Island as well as further relations in the East Asia Regions.
What advice or recommendation do you have for students interested in a career in Asian Studies?

Finding a research or career path in Asian Studies that you feel interested in can be difficult and time-consuming. However, after you find the answer through trial and error, it is worth it in the long run, even if you do not recognize the rewards instantly.
Outside of Asian Studies, tell us some interesting facts about yourself.
Outside of Asian Studies, I enjoy snowboarding and hiking. I am an avid fan of winter sports. In my free time I also like to watch movies and especially enjoy the works of Studio Ghibli, such as Spirited Away. I consider Miyazaki to be an influential person in my life. I am very proud to have served in the Army, the Coalition Forces in Iraq. I was stationed in Nasiriyah and Erbil, Iraq in 2004. My main duty was aiding Iraqi reconstruction: helping to build roads, schools, and hospitals. Witnessing the incidents in Iraq firsthand was meaningful in many ways, as few East Asian countries have had similar experiences during the post war period such as malnutrition, reorganization of the country, etc. The experience reassured me that world peace is important. Currently, I am serving as a Veteran Faculty Member at UNC Charlotte to support potential and current veteran students on campus.

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"When I find out that my little contributions could help students’ future careers, I feel rewarded."

— Giseung Lee