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International Lunch talks Southeast Asia

February 18, 2011

On Feb. 16th, Singapore and Malaysia came to Monmouth in the form of seniors Kim Morris, Matt Jefferson and Becca Rottmann. The three students presented on their 22-day research project on Southeast Asia, at the first International Luncheon of the semester. The luncheons are held five times a year and are an opportunity for anyone who has studied or done research abroad to present on their experience. They are also an opportunity for people from the college and community to learn more about a foreign culture.

“At the very least, we want to plant a seed of interest and curiosity to make students want to go and see other cultures,” said Spanish professor Tim Gaster.  “Everyone is welcome to come.”

Those who come are guaranteed a look at a foreign culture. Even the meal  is a reflection of the culture presented, though students can still sit in on the presentation without eating.

“It’s also an opportunity to see the different possibilities that exist here at Monmouth to travel abroad” Gaster said.

The three week research trip to Malaysia and Singapore was paid for by donors.

“It was an amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity doing grant writing and researching another culture,” said Morris.

The three focused on the contrast between traditional Chinese medicine shops and Western medicine and pharmacies. As a component of their research, students visited a house where a shaman performed a “Dang ki” ceremony in which he channeled a 3-year-old deity. The video displayed in their presentation showed the shaman, with a necklace of pacifiers, in a trance and talking in a high voice while painting on pieces of paper. Believers would take the slips of paper and interpret them.

“It was such an interesting thing to watch” said Morris, whose favorite part of the trip was teaching games like duck, duck, goose to girls at a Malaysian orphanage.

While the majority of the speakers are faculty, presentations can also come from members of the Monmouth community, or students doing research with professors.

The next International Luncheon will be on Wednesday, March 30 at noon in the Highlander Room, and will feature Brenda Tooley presenting “A Fulbright Scholar’s Experiences and Research on Higher Education in Bulgaria.”

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