Asia Program lecture series ‘East Meets West’ focuses on ‘resilience’

By Adriana Aumen, College of Arts and Sciences


PULLMAN, Wash. – Themes of resilience from multiple regional and disciplinary perspectives will be explored in the WSU’s Asia Program’s “East Meets West” lecture series, continuing through Oct. 24.

The 2017 series, currently underway, is free and open to the public.

“We chose the theme of resilience to inspire our students to explore the values of flexibility and courage in response to challenges on both a personal level and through historical and contemporary examples — from the documentary about civil rights activist Grace Lee Boggs to the presentation about wartime internment of Japanese Americans,” said Lydia Gerber, director of Asian Studies and associate professor of history, both in the College of Arts & Sciences.

“When community members also join us and share their insights and experiences, it’s even more meaningful,” she said.

The events provide new ways to think about East-West interactions and to critically examine dominant societal narratives, said Shawna Herzog, history instructor and series coordinator. “Students are learning about Asia and methodology while being encouraged to think about themselves as actors in the world around them,” she said.

“The series is a great way for students like me to begin to see the interactions between the East and the West,” said senior Nikolas Konnor Massa. “The lectures present a perspective that we, as Westerners, rarely get to see.”

Unless otherwise noted, presentations will be held 4:30-6 p.m. on Tuesdays in 276 Todd Hall. The full series includes the following, with five lectures remaining.

  • Sept. 5 – Film: American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs (2013) on the life of Chinese American civil rights activist Grace Lee Boggs. Director Grace Lee; producers Grace Lee, Caroline Libresco, and Austin Wilkin. 82 Minutes.
  • Sept. 12 – “In Our Own Backyard: Japanese Internment during WWII,” by Katy Fry (History)
  • Sept. 19 –  “Patterns of Resilience: An Aesthetics of Chinese Urban Environments,” David Wang (Architecture)
  • Sept. 26 –  “Mindfulness: East and West,” by Julia Cassaniti (Anthropology) and Lydia Gerber (Asian Studies)
  • Oct. 3 –  “Community in a Global Migration Crisis: U.S.-Resettled Burmese and Iraqi Refugees,” by Caitlin Bletscher (Center for Transformational Learning and Leadership)
  • Oct. 10 –  “Building Nationhood in the Post-Soviet Era,” by Marina Tolmacheva (History)
  • Oct. 17 –  “A Taste of Home: Food as a Form of Diasporic Resilience,” by Shawna Herzog (History)
  • Oct. 24 – CHINA TOWN HALL | 4:00–5:40 p.m.
    • Interactive Webcast 4:00 p.m.
      Susan E. Rice, former National Security Advisor and U.S. Ambassador to the UN
    • Local Presentation 4:45 p.m.
      “U.S.–China Relations in the Trump Era: What Is Washington State’s China Strategy?” Mercy Kuo, President and Executive Director of the Washington State China Relations Council, Seattle.



  • Lydia Gerber, director, Asian Studies Program, College of Arts & Sciences,, 509-335-7425
  • Shawna Herzog, instructor, Department of History,
  • Adrian Aumen, College of Arts & Sciences communication,, 509-335-5671