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Student spotlight: Olivia Mason

Olivia Mason

Olivia explores Guangzhou, China while participating in the Global Studies Internship Program in the summer of 2018.

Jun 13 2019

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“The Center for East Asian Studies has helped me build my understanding of China and East Asia, improve my language proficiency, and situate my knowledge in a global context,” said Olivia Mason, who graduates this year with a master’s degree in East Asian studies, with a focus on Chinese media culture and history.

Her favorite class was a literature course titled For Love of Country: National Narratives in Chinese Literature and Film. Taught by her advisor Haiyan Lee, professor of comparative literature and East Asian languages and culture, the class explores China as it is constructed through novels, short stories, films, and other media. “I really enjoyed the content of this seminar course, and I especially loved hearing the thoughts and perspectives of graduate students from diverse disciplines,” Olivia explained.

In 2018 over spring break, Olivia traveled to Shanghai to conduct field research during Shanghai Fashion Week through a SGS Global Perspectives Award.  “It was really exciting to conduct interviews and attend events that helped shape ideas for my thesis, which examines fashion photographer Chen Man's work in the context of 20th century Chinese history and contemporary images and narratives of women's place in China,” she said.

She also participated in the Global Studies Internship Program, traveling to Guangzhou, China to work at Vipshop, which operates an e-commerce website specializing in discount sales. “The entire experience pushed me out of my comfort zone, in the best way,” she said. “My coworkers were welcoming and showed me hidden gems of the city, especially its famous foods. My favorite thing was exploring street markets and eating chicken soup out of a coconut.”

As she prepares to graduate, Olivia is grateful that she has built a global network. “As I move on to the next chapter of my life, I am excited to have peers all over the world. These relationships have helped to enhance my understanding of and connection to East Asia, and also given me a more nuanced and personal global perspective.”