Monday, August 24, 2015

Job Openings: Sigur Center Staff Assistant (Part-Time, Federal Work Study Award Required)

Position Description:

The Staff Assistant position is located in the Sigur Center for Asian Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs. This position is primarily responsible for staffing the center's front desk which encompasses answering the main phone line, greeting visitors, and processing mail. Other administrative duties and special projects as assigned, such as creating spreadsheets and reports, data entry, editing, etc. as well as supporting Sigur Center events. The Staff Assistant also plays a central role in managing the Sigur Center's social enterprise -- our blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr accounts. This is a great opportunity for someone interested in Asian Studies and International Affairs to work closely with Asian Studies faculty, staff, and students as well as visiting scholars from Asia.

Approximate Hours Per Week: 10

Hourly Wage: $10.50/hour


* Interest in/knowledge of International Affairs and Asia
* Some knowledge of an Asian foreign language
* Experience living, working, or studying in Asia
* Strong customer service and interpersonal skills
* Administrative experience
* Must possess a Federal Work Study Award for the 2015-2016 academic year

Application Procedures:

* Apply via GWork to position number 824677 ASAP
* Include the amount of your FWS award in your cover letter
* Specify the dates/times you are available to work in your cover letter
* Email with any questions.

Summer wrap up

Hi everyone!

This is my last blog post as I am headed back to the US tomorrow. This has been a great experience and I am very thankful to the Sigur Center for the language fellowship!


Betsy Janus, M. A. Asian Studies 2016

Sigur Center 2015 Chinese Language Fellow

National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan

Update #4: 我的期末演講(My end of semester speech)

Greetings all. Below is my final update about my time in Taipei. Thank you once again to the Sigur Center for their gracious support.


Max Grossman, B.A. International Affairs and Geography 2017, 

Sigur Center 2015 Chinese Language Fellow, 

National Taiwan University, Taiwan.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Fourth Blog Posting From Cambodia

Hi Everyone,

This is my fourth blog posting from Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I thought in this last blog posting I would talk a little about how the Khmer language courses I have been taking relate to the archival work in Cambodia that I will be doing for my dissertation research. The National Archives of Cambodia (NAC) is located near the United States Embassy and Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh (“phnom” mean hill or mountain in Khmer). The Archives does not have any air-conditioning and there is only one computer (a computer from the early 1990s) available to look-up documents from a few of the collections. There is archival material from the French colonial period, Norodom Sihanouk’s government in the 1950s and 1960s, documents from the 1979 Pol Pot-Ieng Sary Trial, and several personal collections that have been donated to the Archives.

Khmer has 33 consonants, 24 dependent vowels, and 12 independent vowels, so learning to read Khmer does take some practice. As I talked about in my last blog post, there are many Khmer words that are taken directly from Pali and Sanskrit, so there are many times when you will come across words that fall outside of the normal rules.

I focus mainly on Cambodia’s post-colonial history, interactions between different ethnic and political groups within Cambodia, and Cambodia’s foreign policy during the Cold War. The Sihanouk government printed this pamphlet in the early 1950s to help explain the benefits of contemporary agricultural practices to rural populations. Cambodian economists also provide advice in the pamphlet regarding how to increase crop yields and help Cambodia build a viable base of exportable goods.

Although Cambodia often took technical and economic assistance from the United States, the Soviet Union, and the People’s Republic of China, there were also many Cambodian economists and politicians with their own ideas of how best to transform or “modernize” Cambodia. Pamphlets and other documents from the 1950s and 1960s, written primarily in Khmer, help to illustrate how the post-colonial Cambodian government was attempting to solidify a strong and independent state. These documents are also very useful in understanding core-periphery relations within Cambodia, as the urban populations and rural populations often had very different ideas and goals for Cambodia’s future.

I think that's all for this blog posting. Thanks for tuning in!

Ron Leonhardt, 2nd Year PhD History Student
Sigur Center 2015 Khmer Language Fellow,
Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Studying in Taiwan! Vlog #1

Hey everyone! Here is my first vlog post. I talk about what its been like studying Mandarin in Taiwan. Take a look!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Second Video Blog Posting

Ron Leonhardt, 2nd Year PhD History Student
Sigur Center 2015 Khmer Language Fellow,
Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Sunday, August 9, 2015

海邊很好玩! The beach is fun!

Well, I am sitting here in my living room as Typhoon Soudelor passes through. The wind has been really big but has died down from overnight. It is supposed to pick up again later tonight. So far everything has been fine, just been enjoying the day doing homework and watching TV.
So I thought that a blog post would a be a good idea!

I want to share my trip to the beach! We had July 31st off, as the building that has all the classrooms did not have power as they were doing the annual electrical testing.  So a group of friends and I decided to go to the beach! We had planned to go to Fulong beach, but when we got to the train station the next train was not for two hours. So we did a quick google search and found a beach near Yilan (宜蘭).
At the Yilan train station!

The next train was in about 20 minutes, so we quickly bought train tickets and off we went! the train ride took about an hour and half. Once we arrived in Yulin, we asked directions to the nearest beach, which was Waiao (外澳). We had to take another local train to the beach, but once we reached the station we were right across the street from the beach. This beach has more waves and we saw many people learning how to surf.  The place that we stopped off for lunch gave surfing lessons, but we were just there to enjoy the water!
The Waiao train station- that's the beach off to the left!

The water was really warm and not that salty, even though the beach is on the ocean side of the island. Getting out to the water was a challenge. Waiao is known for having black sand. So the sand in between the boardwalk and the water was ferociously hot. It was almost too hot to walk across! But once we reached the water, it cooled down. The beach is pretty shallow so we were able to wade and just enjoy being in the water. The water was really clear and a cerulean blue. the beach was really clean and not that crowded. After coming home and talking with my classmates and 老師, I learned that it is not as touristy because it is harder to get to; Fulong beach is right off of the train station so that is where most people go. I’m glad that we ended up going to 外澳 because it was pretty empty and the scenery was beautiful! The pictures really do not do it justice!
Some of the boardwalk and the beach

It was a pretty clear day- the water was great!

It was  great relaxing trip and a great break in studying. The only hiccup that we had was that the train back to Taipei was standing room only. It wasn’t that bad and if that is the worst thing to say, I would consider that a successful trip!

It was a busy weekend as the next day, I met up with my class at 士林 (Shilin) to make Pineapple cakes (鳳梨酥) . We went to a well known local bakery  Kao Yuan Ye and made these Taiwanese desserts. It was really simple as they had all the ingredients measured out for us, so all we had to do was dump it into the bowl and stir. But it was still a lot of fun and people at the bakery were very enthusiastic! While the cakes were baking we went up to the attached museum to learn about the customs and traditions of Taiwanese pastry. You can follow the process from the pictures below! 

Max's 3rd Update: In Taiwan, Energy Matters.

Taiwan is small, its natural resource endowments are minimal, and its current energy supply leaves its economy extremely vulnerable to changes in international energy prices. Needless to say, the country needs to change how it supplies its energy.
大家好 - greetings everyone, I am Max, a Sigur Center Chinese Language Fellow in Taiwan. Today (partly due to typhoon Soudelor), will provide a brief introduction to the topic for my final presentation at the International Chinese Language Program - Taiwan’s Energy Security.
For simplicity, I’ll use three topics to surmise the state of Taiwan’s energy security– why Taiwan’s current energy supply is problematic, the policies the Republic of China has enacted to resolve this problem, and the progress that has been made to improve the country’s energy outlook.

Foreign energy chokehold 

Reliance on imported energy is a serious problem for Taiwan’s economy. At present, Taiwan imports 98% of its energy, of which 90% are fossils (primarily oil, natural gas, coal). According to two Taiwanese economists’ research published by the Brookings Institute, importing energy ties manufacturing costs to international energy price fluctuations, and weakens the country’s trade competitiveness because Taiwan’s carbon emissions do not necessarily comply with increasingly stringent carbon emissions standards for international trade. Moreover, Taiwan’s ambiguous international status makes it difficult to lock in bilateral agreements that would ensure reliable energy sources from abroad.

A hefty government response

Nonetheless, the Republic of China established a 2008 Sustainable Energy Policy that is overseen by its Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA). The strategy intends to (1) develop domestic clean energy in Taiwan (2) increase the country’s energy efficiency, and (3) create a secure energy supply that is less dependent on sources from abroad.
A number of policies have followed to meet these goals. In 2009, the Renewable Energy Development Act was passed in the Legislative Yuan (Taiwan's national legislative body), which intends increase renewables’ stake in Taiwan’s domestic supply to over 16% by 2030. It does so with “feed-in-tariffs”, a policy tool in which a government guarantees fixed payments to renewable energy developers through long-term contracts.
Additionally, an Energy Management Act was partially amended in 2009 to help meet goals of increasing overall energy efficiency by 2% per year. It establishes compulsory energy standards for cars, appliances, and industrial equipment. In addition to these major pieces of legislation, the government has taken a number of other actions, including numerous incentive programs that support energy conservation, residential solar deployment, and adoption of LED lighting, as well as investment in key renewable energies’ research and development. Also related, in June a bill was passed that would establish the framework for a carbon cap and trade system

Nonetheless, with these policies in places, the question then becomes – how has Taiwan performed?

Slow steps to a Sustainable Energy 

Simply put, progress has been slow.

Starting with renewable energy deployment, little has improved. According to the MOEA data, less than 0.5% of power generationis supplied by hydroelectric, solar, or wind power.

Flow Chart provided by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Additionally, little has changes in terms of imports, as coal natural gas, and petroleum together in held 90% of the supply in 2014. However, the MOEA data also shows that in 2010 solar deployment grew by over 70% since 2010. Additionally, major offshore wind projects are currently in development, and Bloomberg news recently named Taiwan the world's 6th largest emerging renewable energy market.

Yet, the real challenge with renewable energy development, beyond Taiwan's topographic hurdles (steep mountains aren’t perfect for solar or wind farms), is Taipower – the island’s state owned energy provider - and its subsidized energy prices. Until the playing field is leveled, which will inevitably increase energy prices in the short run, bolstering domestic renewable energy will continue to be an uphill battle.
Regarding energy efficiency, it is difficult to use indicators like energy intensity (a measure of how much energy is produced per unit of Gross Domestic Product) to parse out any meaningful trends because such indices reveal little about what drives efficiency.  However, as the energy flow chart above showcases, manufacturing gobbles a huge portion of the total energy Taiwan consumes. Thusly, shift in what is produced, and or to using more efficient machinery, will be key to decreasing energy demands, and thusly making the goal of supplying the country with domestic sources easier.
Nonetheless, the energy challenge in Taiwan is massive and will require continued work by the government, investors, businesses, and its people to ensure a domestic supply is in place to shield the country from changes in global prices.

            On a separate note, next week is my last in Taiwan. Stay tuned for a video update regarding my final presentation and last week of adventures!

Max Grossman, B.A. International Affairs and Geography 2017, 

Sigur Center 2015 Chinese Language Fellow, 

National Taiwan University, Taiwan.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Khmer Language Study in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Ron Leonhardt, 2nd Year PhD History Student
Sigur Center 2015 Khmer Language Fellow,
Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia