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Kai Ward ’19 (English) enjoys exploring cross-cultural communication and expression, whether as a children’s writing instructor in Hong Kong, summer coordinator at a cross-cultural summer program, or student leader for the CGSE and Popel Shaw Center.
Ridgewood, New Jersey.
Clubs and organizations:
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.
On choosing a major:
I’ve always been a creative writer and avid reader, so I knew that I wanted to pursue English and creative writing in college. I love studying and interpreting the works of others as well as writing my own pieces.
On choosing Dickinson:
Favorite place on campus:
Favorite Dining Hall food:
My First Year Seminar, Singing Through Social Strife. It was my first time taking a class that was so interdisciplinary and multilayered. I found it interesting how many subjects and fields were covered in this one course: music, history, politics, trauma and memory. It was fascinating to learn about how humanity has used music to combat social conflict at different points in history, such as during the First World War, the Holocaust and the apartheid regime in South Africa. The instructor for the course, [Associate] Professor [of Music] Amy Wlodarski, contributed greatly to the intriguing learning atmosphere. She was passionate about the class and valued student input. She also taught us how to think, read and write critically as well as how to examine issues from various perspectives.
[Assistant] Professor of English Jacob Sider Jost, because of his tweed jackets, constant literary references, vast knowledge of English literature and his visit to England while I was studying abroad there (we had afternoon tea at a 15th-century coffeehouse in Norwich).
On studying abroad:
I studied abroad in Norwich, England, for the entirety of my junior year. The highlights of my study abroad experience were making new friends, traveling around Europe and conducting my own independent research project (I traveled to Cornwall County, England, and researched the history of the Cornish language and its relationship to a modern Cornish identity).
As I kid, I wanted to be …
… a marine biologist.
About my internship:
During summer 2018 I interned with Summerbridge Hong Kong, a nonprofit organization that provides underprivileged Hong Kong students with free educational lessons in English. I was drawn to this internship because of my interest in teaching, my love of cross-cultural exchanges and my former experiences with kids from working at a summer camp for years.
It was thrilling being able to live and work in Hong Kong, a place I had never visited before, for two months. While exploring Hong Kong was fun, the best part of the internship was my daily interactions with my students. I taught creative fiction writing to middle school students; it was challenging teaching creative writing to a group of non-native English speakers who were unfamiliar with the subject. But it was rewarding watching my students grow over the course of the summer. They were so hardworking and academically driven, despite having to deal with cultural and language barriers as well as difficult social standings. I was proud to serve as their teacher and role model. The experience taught me the values of encouragement, patience, positive influence and education.
I can make a DJ record-scratch sound effect with only my hand and mouth.
After I graduate, I’m taking a gap year. I’m hoping to secure a yearlong ESL teaching position in Japan to reconnect with my cultural heritage and gain further experience on teaching & cross-cultural interactions. After my gap year, I might pursue a master’s degree in creative writing.
I used to work at the Tokyo Frost Valley YMCA Partnership, a summer camp located in upstate New York for Japanese children living in the United States. Within this camp, Japanese children have the opportunity to participate in the Tokyo program for cultural opportunities while American children participate in their own programs. While the relationship between the Tokyo YMCA and Frost Valley YMCA was strong, there were few interactions between the American and Japanese camps that had long-lasting effects. There was always a sense of separation due to cultural and language barriers.
To address this issue, I volunteered to give a speech to staff members from all of the camp programs during my time as the program coordinator of the Tokyo program. I discussed my desire to improve relations between the Tokyo and American programs by emphasizing our similarities and possibilities for better cooperation. My speech was met with thundering applause, cheering and congratulations from so many staff members.
I was touched by how many people felt the same way as I did and how many intercultural programs have occurred at Frost Valley since I gave that speech. I was proud to have impacted the summer camp in a positive manner.
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Published February 4, 2019