Benjamin McIntosh, NPTS ’19


 Ben in Tienanmen Square

The East Asia Practicum trip is a wonderful opportunity for students to gain hands on experience in one of the fastest moving parts of the world. Whether or not you speak the language(s), have been to the region, or know anything about the people and their myriad diverse cultures, this trip will expose you to something new regardless of your background. My own personal desire to undertake this trip stems from a fascination of the Gordian knot that is North Korea. What better way to try and make sense of the Hermit Kingdom’s actions than to examine the complex web of relationships, feuds, alliances, grievances, and acts of war that have intertwined these nations over the centuries.

As the old saying goes, seeing really is believing. To see the pollution, feel the crush on a crowded subway, or hear the passion that still underscores the way government officials think about their neighbors from conflicts past, this trip tangibly gives students a window into the mindset of East Asia that though so easily talked about here in the United States, is often so hard to truly internalize. When we Americans are criticized for our myopic worldview, it is not necessarily a negative trait but a realistic observation. To feel the pain from atrocities hundreds of years ago is alien to the American concept of self.

This trip immensely helped me for my purposes of my seminar paper. But the trip was about so much more, one of culture, exposure, of new food, and new perspectives. Like college is about more than what you learn in the classroom, the East Asia Practicum is a holistic experience that will leave students richer academically, professionally, and personally.

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