Colorado State University - Pueblo English major Japan trip gives global perspective
PUEBLO – Pueblo West native and Colorado State University-Pueblo senior English major Kristen Colvin spent the last month in Japan, performing a literary and cultural analysis on two novels, but gaining the confidence to take her creative drive in whatever direction she chooses following her graduation in May.
Colvin has taken study abroad trips to South Korea, France, and Spain during her career at CSU-Pueblo and decided to end her college career by creating her own independent study course with the help of Assistant Professor of English Dr. Donna Souder.
"It's been so much fun working with Kristen these past three years. She's inquisitive by nature, and her determination to study Asian culture, first hand, was really a pleasure to see in action,” Souder said. “She worked with me to create parameters for her course, but then devised her own syllabus and assignments. What a dynamic way to see a student take control of her own academic future!"
Colvin spent the last month in Dormitory Ohashi in Fukuoka, Japan, a capitol city of 1.4 million people on the northern shore of the island of Kyushu. She read two novels -- The Incense Game by Laura Joh Rowland, an Asian-American novelist who has written numerous historical-mystery novels featuring 17th century Japan, and In the Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami, a profound psycho-thriller author whose novel takes place in 20th century Japan. Colvin performed both literary and cultural analyses on the novels, contemplating how the understanding of the story was impacted by living in the country. She blogged her observations and experiences on a travel blog on tumblr, and upon her return to Colorado, will write a fictional piece that invites her audience to explore her opinions and perspectives of Japan and America.
“The story really does come alive as I reside in Japan since this country consistently modernizes, but keeps ancient settings, such as shrines and gardens; therefore, I am able to experience the past and present of Japan,” Colvin said.
Colvin has great admiration for Japanese animation, which she says has numerous genres that are attractive to a wide range of ages and genders and which has a great influence on the country. Comparatively, American animation seems to be of two kinds: animation for children and adult/crude humor animation.
She has attempted to draw anime and manga (japanese comics) as a hobby, but rates her art skills as needing improvement. Now she hopes to be involved in the creating process, whether it be story writing, translating, or actual animating. Her travel experiences have taught her that literature of any kind is a truly creative process that focuses on a targeted audience.
“Taking the time to understand a culture and a country through literature and living in the country itself can help one understand what people do and do not respond to,” she said. “I thought I missed out on being creative when I started college. I thought the best way for me to give someone or myself a voice was to become a lawyer, but now I see I don't have to completely abandon my creative drive to become a professional speaker or representative who is worth listening to,” she said.
Through creation of the independent study course, Colvin has gained the confidence to become someone who can create and speak to others.
“When you find an opportunity to discover more about something you're interested in, including discovering more about yourself, I think the best thing you can do is seize that chance and take the best out of it,” Colvin said.