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Alumnus Stuart Birkby

My attraction to East Asia was first sparked in 1999, when my wife and I adopted a baby girl from Hunan, China. Then in 2004, I was chosen by Minru Li of Ohio State to participate in the first term of the Wuhan University Summer Intensive English program, which brings educators from across the U.S. to teach interactive, theme-based English lessons in China. 

The following year, I began my doctoral program in foreign-/second language education, with a multidisciplinary specialization in East Asian Studies, and additional coursework in the Chinese language. My studies at Ohio State opened up opportunities for me to teach both at Wuhan University (2004, 2005) and National Pusan University in South Korea (2006). But for Ohio State, I would not have been able to engage in multiple, multicultural experiences during the course of my doctoral studies. I received my Ph.D. from Ohio State in June 2012.

I am grateful to have received several scholarships from Ohio State, including the Phyllis Krumm Memorial International Scholarship, the Sonkin-Bergman-Wasserman Families Scholarship for International Understanding and Peace, and the Louise Zung-Nyi Loh Scholarship Fund in East Asian Studies, all through the Office of International Affairs. I also received scholarships from Taiwan’s Ministry of Education and a fellowship from the U.S. National Security Education Program, which combined, enabled me to carry out dissertation research in Taipei. This added to my multicultural experiences and helped me develop my training as a teacher and researcher focused on English-language pedagogy as it relates to East Asian students. 

My international experiences and passion for teaching have led me to my current position, as senior lecturer at Assumption University, Thailand’s oldest international university. I was attracted to the university’s major focus on teaching and learning, and its move toward taking a larger role as a research institute. Consequently, I see my role as supporting the university’s Institute of English Language Learning (IELE) not only through my teaching by also by introducing techniques of classroom-based research to the other faculty in the IELE. These faculty members in turn communicate the excellence of Assumption University’s English-language program to the rest of Southeast Asia and internationally through conference presentations and publications. 

Since graduating from Ohio State, I’ve chosen to give back to the East Asian Studies Center because they provided me with the knowledge and resources to experience East Asia beyond the classroom and to gain a greater understanding of the effects of the English language on the unique cultures that make up that part of the world. Giving back is important because I hope Ohio State can continue to provide the opportunities I was given, to enable future educators to gain a better understanding of East Asia’s role in the greater international community.