In Honor of Women’s Day: Women Studying International Relations

Ok, I’m biased about this subject matter (international relations being my main area of focus, and me being a woman), but since entering my graduate international relations program I’ve noticed something quite striking:

Males outnumber females.  By a very large number.

In my Chinese International Relations and Security Class, there are 5 females and perhaps 15 males.  My other classes also hold the same demographic.  I always imagined international relations to be a relatively balance degree of gender (it’s not engineering), but I was alarmed by the contrast.  International Relations (IR) is basically an extension of politics–and there are no women in it.

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Finding Inspiring, Powerful Female Leads in Asian Media

Image courtesy of Lord of the Rings Wiki

If you couldn’t tell, I grew up a fantasy nerd.  My brother loved fantasy books and passed the tradition onto me–which meant that in 5th grade I was reading the Hobbit, and by the end of the 6th grade I had already finished the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy.

After reading Lord of the Rings, I was a diehard Eowyn fan.  She was the only female in the entire series to kill a nazgul.  Not only that, but she disguised herself as a male to participate in the war to prove herself.  What. a. badass.

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What a Trump Presidency Means for US-Japan-China Relations

Two Chinese girls looking out at Tokyo with a faux statue of liberty. The US-China-Japan all in one photo.

It’s only been one day and we are already starting to see the damage.  The repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The disappearance of the Climate Change page on whitehouse.org.  Re-negotiations of NAFTA.  It’s all really happening.

Yesterday, in a truly humbling event, scores of Women’s Marches were held around the world. Women (and those who support women and diversity) stood in solidarity for equality, love, and women’s rights.  I was rooting for all of you.

Although these marches spanned the globe, they mostly represented a fight for U.S. domestic policies.  Planned Parenthood, immigration, education, healthcare–Americans turned out in record numbers to fight for these rights.

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The Ruby Ronin’s 2016 Year in Review

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As social media and the internet have already proclaimed, 2016 was not exactly a great year.  Dozens of amazing, life-changing and truly respectable celebrities passed away–and most of them, in my opinion, left this world too soon (Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Prince… just to name a few).

The most devastating public tragedy to occur in 2016, in my personal opinion, is the election of Donald Trump.  I’m in disbelief that a bigoted, low-intelligence, tax-evading, rapist could become president.  I go into 2017 with a heavy heart and sincere concern about the U.S. and the world.  As someone studying foreign policy day-in, day-out, I am extremely aware of the damage an unpredictable president like Trump will do, and it is very frightening indeed.  I went into graduate school with the high hopes of graduating, working hard to get a job in the federal government and serve under the first female president–and now everything has changed.  My future looks uncertain.

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Teaching Christmas in the Japanese Countryside

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Winter at one of my schools.

Many people often ask me what the most difficult part of teaching in Japan was.  The JET Program had a mandatory, two day orientation to teach us about the long, English teaching road ahead. They rattled on and on about isolation, language barriers, and cultural clashes.

Yet they forgot the most important thing of all:

Actually instructing us on how to teach English.

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Never showed this face to my students, but man did I feel like this many-a-time (especially during blizzards)

The most difficult part of JET for me was standing in front of 40 middle school students and entertaining educating them for one hour.  I was a journalism and Japanese major–I knew absolutely nothing about education.

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My First Time in Latin America: Spending One Week in Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Years ago, my boyfriend (now fiancee) approached me and said: “Let’s go to Costa Rica in December 2016.”

Knowing absolutely nothing about the country, I said “Sure.  Why not.”

Since boyfriend planned our previous trip, he said Costa Rica planning was up to me.

As I mentioned before, I knew jack shit about Costa Rica.  To be perfectly honest–I had to look the country up on Google Maps.

Where does one go in Costa Rica?  How do we get there?  How do we get around?  Do we rent a car?  Can we drink the local tap water?  What’s worth seeing, what’s not?  How’s the weather?

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3 Reasons Chinese People Like Trump

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Like most of America, I was devastated on the morning of Wednesday, November 9th 2016.  The impossible happened.  The United States elected a KKK endorsed rapist to the most powerful position in this country.  As a minority, I was horrified; and as a woman, I was absolutely disgusted.

Ill with a hangover and still in a state of shock, I rolled over in bed and reached for my phone.  I had a slew of frustrated and hopeless texts from friends around the states.  My Facebook feed was awash in anger, denial and filled with dispute.  I opened my WeChat account to find…

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The Life You Never Knew You Changed

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H called me.  I was in my new second home, the university library, writing a policy memo on the conflict in Yemen.  I knew something was different about this call.  I stepped out of the library and picked up the phone.

“Hey, what’s goin on?” I answered naturally.

“Um,” she was quiet.  I listened intently.

“Derek P, you know.  He passed away today.  He crashed into a semi-truck.”

I grew up in a small, coal-mining town in Utah.  As mentioned before, I was the only half-Asian around and I was often teased for being ‘weird.’  Luckily, I had great friends to help me survive the battlefield called elementary school, but middle school was an entirely different playing field.

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The Reality of Working as a Chinese and Japanese Interpreter

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Are you considering a career as a Chinese or Japanese interpreter/translator?

Think again.  And think real hard.

The Learning Process

I pulled up my collar.  I strutted into the hallway, knockin’ down the door as I busted into my first interpreting class.  I pulled up a chair next to the fellow Chinese students like a boss.  I gave everyone a chin up, just to let them know that this little lady here could speak and read Mandarin.  I just passed HSK Level 6 after only 6 months of study, and although I had lived in China for only two years I could pay my own bills, find an apartment, make friends and date the locals all without a translator.  I was the shit.

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Hiking Zhangjiajie in Hunan: A Must See in China

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Hunan.

In high school, I worked at the only Chinese restaurant in my very humble town called “Hunan Village.”  I neither knew what, or where, Hunan was at the time.

Fast forward six years later, and I meet the inspiration for my foray into China: a man named Chen.  Through our friendship, he inspired me to not only self-study Mandarin in Japan, but also to study abroad in Beijing and later take the plunge and move to Shanghai.  Honestly, without Chen, China wouldn’t even be a part of my life.

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