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SEASSI 2005 Comes to an End

The 2005 session of the Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute (SEASSI) came to an end Friday, August 5. More than 170 students participated, each studying one of eight Southeast Asian languages: Burmese, Hmong, Filipino, Khmer, Indonesian, Lao, Thai, and Vietnamese. SEASSI runs for eight weeks each summer and is an intensive learning experience. Each weekday, classes met from 8 in the morning until after noon.

In addition to in-class work, students were also provided several learning opportunities outside of the classroom. Amelia Liwe, Coordinator of Indonesian, and Frank Smith, Coordinator of Khmer, gave a series of lectures on the Ramayana. Eric Haanstad (Anthropology, UW-Madison) taught a class titled “Police, State and Society in Southeast Asia”. Richard Miller taught students of varying backgrounds how to play the Javanese Gamelan. And once a week, SEASSI showed a film about Southeast Asia.

Students were also encouraged to share their experiences and interests with one another, first with the annual Poetry Night in which students read their favorite or original poems in a Southeast Asian language to a packed conference room. Later in the summer, SEASSI also hosted its annual Student Conference. The day-long conference included 10 separate panels and more than 30 student presentations. This year’s keynote address, "Surveillance States: Police and the Process of Mutual Transformation in America's Philippine Empire,” was given by Professor Alfred W. McCoy (History, UW-Madison).

Of course, the SEASSI experience is not entirely academic. The ubiquitous SEASSI Volleyball Tournament was unfortunately cancelled due to construction on campus. In its place, an Ultimate Frisbee Tournament was organized. The Burmese team went undefeated through the regular season, but was upset in the Finals of the Championship Tournament by the Indonesian team.

The SEASSI Final Banquet gave students from each language to gather one last time to share memories and relax together. As always, each language group was also responsible for a short presentation - such as a song, dance, or skit. In a SEASSI first, the Vietnamese class debuted their kung-fu, comedy film about dialectical differences between North and South Vietnam. The evening concluded with the presentation of the prestigious Usha Mahajani Memorial Prize to the outstanding graduate student at SEASSI. First, each group of language instructors nominates a graduate student from their language. From there the language coordinators vote on the nominees. This year’s winner was Jared Cahners from the Khmer class. Jared is working towards his PhD in Anthropology here at the University of Wisconsin.

SEASSI has gained a reputation for being one of the finest language institutions. 2005 was no exception thanks to world-class instructors, a dedicated administrative support team, and most importantly a dedicated group of students that come once a year to Madison to enrich their knowledge of Southeast Asia.

 

 

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Center for Southeast Asian Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison
207 Ingraham Hall
1155 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1397
phone: (608) 263-1755
fax: (608) 263-3735
e-mail: seasia@intl-institute.wisc.edu