Student Reflections on their Urban Research Grant Projects

The first Fall 2017 Global Vantage Point Lecture Series event featured three Trinity students who presented their summer 2017 field research.


Supported by a Student-Initiated Research Grant from the Faculty Research Committee and a Thomas China Urban Studies Endowment grant from CUGS, Archie Chen ’18 (an Economics and Anthropology double major) carried out research on the elderly in Shanghai. Her presentation assessed their ability to use public space, semi-public space and most basic living space in and around their communities. She differentiated the elderly into three groups: the Shanghainese in the old city, the “suburban” native (Ben di ren) residents of Minhang District, and those in the floating population or migrants from other cities. She found that the natives of Minhang and the Shanghainese do not interact very often, unless it is necessary. Some Shanghainese look down on the natives. The elderly in the floating population face difficulties in fully integrating themselves such as participating in local clubs because they do not speak the Shanghai dialect and lack leisure time for having to take care of their grandchildren.


Andrew Lee ’20 (planning to double major in Economics and Political Science), with a Levy Urban Curriculum Fund grant, conducted a project on discrimination and educational opportunities in multi-racial Malaysia. He chose two high schools of dominant Malay vs. dominant Chinese student populations in two different cities to show how Malays and Chinese students (the latter as the discriminated subgroup) are treated differently. While industrialization and globalization have led to rapid economic development and social change in Malaysia as a whole, certain cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang differ strongly in terms of race policy and practices in schools. Andrew’s research exposes the Malay’s belief that they are superior to the Chinese, and he describes how that belief is exhibited. Chinese students are heavily discriminated against at the Malay dominant school in Kuala Lumpur, while the Chinese dominant school in heavily Chinese populated Penang does not have discriminant practices toward its Malay students.  His interviews with both Malay and Chinese students, teachers, and staff, and by listening to their tales of discrimination in schools, the likelihood of favoritism of Malays over Chinese is confirmed.


With support from a Tanaka Student Research grant, Kalsang Wangmo Sherpa ’20 (planning to double major in Computer Science and Mathematics) studied the opportunities and challenges for Tibetan refugees and their families to make a new living through the carpet industry in Nepal. After being forced to leave Tibet to settle in Nepal, many Tibetan refugees have worked diligently to establish carpet making as one of the most thriving industries during the 1980s-1990s.  This industry has become a major source of income for these refugees, some of whom have made a good living from it, and have been able to send their children to study abroad. In 1990, the carpet exporting business employed as many as 100,000 people, primarily Tibetans. The accumulated revenue from this industry is larger than in any other sector of Nepal’s economy. In the meantime, Tibetan refugees have encountered many cultural and other disadvantages including travel restrictions, difficulty in getting licensed to work/study/open a business, and human rights issues.


Heidy (Bingjie) Xie ’18

2017-2018 Global Vantage Point Lecture Series student coordinator