Celebrating the achievements of the Department of East Asian Studies

As Asian Heritage Month comes to a close, the Faculty of Arts proudly acknowledges the accomplishments of our colleagues in the Department of East Asian Studies.

Christopher Lupke - 31 May 2021

The faculty, students, and staff of the Department of East Asian Studies take seriously the responsibility it has to the campus community and the communities of Edmonton, Alberta, and Canada to help people understand the languages and cultures of East Asia. East Asia is a complex region composed of several countries, a multitude of spoken languages, a vibrant economy, and a rich set of long-standing traditions.

Additionally, Canada has a large population whose heritage is East Asia. Asian Heritage Month is an opportunity to reflect on the wonderful contributions people from Asia and those whose heritage is Asia have made to Canada.

Many colleagues in East Asian Studies have received distinctions in the past year, including the following:

The Japanese Language Program received the FoA Unit Teaching Award in 2020.  Members of the language program include the following:

  • Hiromi Aoki, Coordinator
  • Yuji Abe
  • Junko Davis
  • Mayumi Hoshi
  • Ying Huang
  • Yukiko Isaka
  • Urara Kobayashi
  • Mimi Okabe
  • Yumi Sieben
  • Honoka Takei

Students frequently remarked upon how well integrated the language program is, with all courses and all levels working together in a seamless fashion. They also were impressed with the absolute dedication instructors have to their students and their teaching mission.

Dr. Jooyeon Kang, instructor in Korean language, won the FoA Contract Instructor Award in 2020.

Comments on Dr. Kang's teaching consistently note her dedication, kindness, intelligence, energy, promptness, and nurturing. When it comes to suggestions for improvement, students frequently say her teaching is “perfect” the way it is. Current and former students repeatedly extol Dr. Kang’s patience, good nature, and the high standards to which she subjects her students.

Jin Mi Kwon, instructor in Korean language, won the Graduate Student Principal Teaching Award, given to graduate students who teach their own courses as opposed to functioning as a Teaching Assistant for a professor.

This is a great distinction for a graduate student working independently on a course. Jin Mi also just completed her PhD.

The Korean Language Program received the FoA Unit Teaching Award in 2021. Members of the language program include the following:

  • Kyungsook Kim, Coordinator
  • Hyechung Cho
  • Hyeon Ho Lee
  • Jooyeon Kang
  • Byung-Geuk Kim
  • Jin Mi Kwon
  • Hwaja Park

Two things stand out as being particularly extraordinary about the Korean language program. One is that they have created all their teaching materials together from scratch and are now publishing it as a set of Korean language textbooks.

The other is how the instructors have worked assiduously to build bridges between their own students and the larger communities -- Korean students on campus and Koreans and Korean-Canadians in Edmonton.

Dr. Kuo-Chan Sun, Coordinator of the Chinese Language Program and ATS Career Instructor in Chinese won the William Hardy Alexander Award for Teaching - the most prestigious teaching award in the university for instructors.

Dr. Mimi Okabe received one of the university COVID-19 Remote Teaching Awards for her stellar work migrating her courses from in-person format to an online and remote platform over the past year. Dr. Okabe turned working under pressure into a triumph.

Dr. Yoshi Ono won a Great Supervisor Award given out by FGSR in 2020. Dr. Ono has distinguished himself in this regard superbly. Dr. Ono is a linguist who works on various issues including an endangered hybrid Japanese-Indigenous language spoken only on scattered islands off the coast of Taiwan. Dr. Ono's steady dedication over two decades, working hard with graduate students in a wide range of capacities, not to mention participating in research with them and co-publishing with them, is proof that he richly deserves this award. He is an exemplary supervisor and mentor to graduate students.


Clara Iwasaki, Assistant Professor of Chinese, has just published a new book entitled Rethinking the Modern Chinese Canon: Refractions across the Transpacific (Cambria Press). The book focuses on four major authors of the twentieth century: Xiao Hong, Yu Dafu, Lao She, and Zhang Ailing. Dr. Iwasaki is particularly interested in the issues that have arisen in the translation of their works, in some of the authors' self-translations, and even a case in which the original work was lost and now only exists in translation. As such, the treatment has profound implications for transcultural and transnational studies.


Dr. Xiaoting Li, a linguist whose current work investigates the relationship between verbal and non-verbal communication, is charting new vistas in the field of linguistics. Dr. Li is on the forefront of a burgeoning field that looks at the relationship between physical gestures and touch as part of the semiotic field of communication, an endeavor called multimodality. This research has just been awarded major funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation-John R. Evans Leaders Fund (CFI-JELF). She also is the team lead for the Faculty of Arts Signature Area on Language, Communication, and Culture.

For more information about the Department of East Asian Studies, visit their website.