About the Interviewers
Kari-Elle Brown is an Anthropology and Asian Languages and Civilizations double major at Amherst College. After a few area studies classes with Paola Zamperini, she decided to see the China for herself, spending three months in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, and the rest is history. She plans to return to China very soon in order to work on her language skills and possibly do some anthropological fieldwork studying contemporary issues of inequality in China, as well as visit Tibet.
Jaeyeon Choi graduated from Amherst College spring of 2012 as a Economics and Asian Languages and Civilizations major. As a native Korean speaker who studied Japanese in high school, she decided to pick up Chinese as well and studied abroad in Beijing during her junior year. While abroad, she visited many places in China including the Tibetan plateau. This two week visit to the Sichuan and Yunnan provinces led her to taking the class, Beyond Shangri-La. Jaeyeon is currently working in Boston, but hopes to start learning Tibetan sometime and ultimately visit Tibet again.
Taylor Haney graduated from Amherst College in May 2012. He studied English and Music. He especially enjoys learning about cultures of Buddhism, ethnography, music, and fiction. For his English thesis, he wrote Thus Have I Heard, a collection of short stories based on Buddhist narratives. Also while at Amherst, he made a short documentary film about a group of Buddhist practitioners in Conway, MA, which can be found here: http://www.pioneervalleysoundscapes.org. In 2012-2013, he will use a Fulbright grant to fund an ethnomusicology project in Dharamsala, India. You can follow his time in India here: http://www.resoundingdharamsala.com.
Karen Jensen graduated from Smith College in May 2012. She studied both American Studies and Buddhist Studies. Her interest in Tibet began during her sophomore year when she participated in the Five College Tibetan Studies in India Program at the Central University in Sarnath, India. That same year she also interned at the U.S. headquarters of the Tibetan Nuns Project. She is now volunteering for the 13th Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Women, which will be held in Vaishali, India in January 2013.
Marisa Lum graduated from Mount Holyoke College in May 2012. She studied East Asian Studies with a focus on China. During her junior year, Marisa spent 14 months studying in Beijing, where she first became interested in oral history through a mini-project about happiness, which can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oBJ8xhJfOU. Beyond Shangri-La has transformed and rebuilt her understanding of narratives and the relationship between identity and place. Marisa is now teaching English in a small town in southern Thailand as a Princeton in Asia Fellow, listening to people’s stories and at the same time, building a Thai narrative of her own.
Tess Isabel Nepstad graduated from Mount Holyoke College in May of 2012. She studied Politics and Chinese, spending her Junior year abroad in Beijing, China. Having traveled throughout China, she became fascinated by China’s ethnic minority groups and their role in politics and the environment. Wanting to know more about Tibet and its relations with China, she decided to enroll in the course, Beyond Shangri-La. Isabel is now living and working in Beijing, and hopes to visit Tibet one day.
Huong Nguyen is an undergraduate student at Mount Holyoke College currently majoring in East Asian Studies. Coming to Mount Holyoke from Hanoi, Vietnam, Huong has always questioned the China influence in the region. Huong participated in the Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) movement in college and interned as a development coordinator at the SFT headquarters in New York City during the summer of 2012 however, left the internship early after finding the movement’s narrative to be rather conflicting with her personal perspective on the issues. In addition to her interest in East Asia, Huong enjoys researching about Southeast Asia development and regional security, traveling and watching good films.
Sylvia Ngo is an undergraduate student at Amherst College studying anthropology. She is spending the fall semester of her junior year studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh and focusing on Scottish studies. Her curiosity about other cultures and her lack of substantial knowledge about Tibet led her to take Beyond Shangri-La. She came away from the class with a greater awareness of the issues surrounding Tibet and a special place in her heart for Tibet. Sylvia is interested in museology and how museum collection practices shape identity and hopes these interests will lead her to many new and exciting places.
Nancy Yun Tang is an undergraduate student at Amherst College and is majoring in Political Science. She came from Beijing, China to study at Amherst at the age of 18. Interested in feminism and China’s economic and political development, she hopes to work on women’s rights in China someday. Beyond Shangri-La has transformed her understandings of Tibet, narratives, and displacement and diaspora. She intends to share her experience from the class through conversations and hopes the oral history project will carry on in the years to come. She is a big fan of Beethoven, books and British mini-series.
  Claudia Wack is an undergraduate student at Amherst College, currently majoring in Religion and Women and Gender Studies. She didn’t know much about Tibet before enrolling in Professor Zamperini’s class, but did so out of a desire to learn more. She is currently working on a WAGS thesis on the poetry of Alice Fulton, a contemporary feminist writer, and continues to read about Tibet and China in her spare time.
Yang Xiao (Sunny) is a Math and English double major at Amherst College. She comes from Beijing, China and has a broad interest in literature, Asian cultures, gender studies, and social justice. She took this course with Professor Zamperini in her sophomore year, during which her knowledge about Tibet and Tibetan cultures were broadened and transformed. She plans to visit Tibet in the coming summer and carry this oral history project further in her trip. Outsides classes, Sunny is also a martial artist and a rider. She likes traveling and is fascinated with the lives of different people.