Two URI students win scholarships for study in Asia

KINGSTON, R.I. – July 1, 2021 – Alex Tsang wants to travel the world and work with animals after he graduates from the University of Rhode Island next year. He’s going to have a chance to enjoy at least one of those opportunities ahead of schedule when he travels to Taiwan this fall to study Chinese culture, history and language as one of two URI recipients of the prestigious Freeman Award for Study in Asia through the Institute for International Education.

            Tsang, a rising senior from Framingham, Massachusetts, will be joined in Taiwan by classmate Dylan Bracken of Warwick, Rhode Island. Both are enrolled in URI’s Chinese Language Flagship Program, which combines the study of Chinese with another major and offers advanced discipline-specific Chinese skills, cross-cultural understanding, and real-world work experience in China. The two students will travel to Taipei for eight months beginning in October to study at the National Yang Ming University and complete an internship.

            “I will be completely thrust into the Taiwanese culture, not only in social life but in the classroom as well,” said Tsang. “If I don’t get swamped by the workload, I really want to go out and explore Taiwan’s night market, too. I have seen countless pictures of Taiwan’s street food and, of course, I want to try all of it.”

            Tsang’s second major is wildlife conservation biology, so he also hopes to have a chance to see and learn about the local wildlife. At the conclusion of the program, he plans to enroll in a graduate degree program.

            “I hope to continue to use my Mandarin degree to influence a broader audience in wildlife conservation for a more environmentally conscious future,” he said.

            Bracken, whose second major is international relations, said he was “shocked” when he learned that he was awarded the Freeman-Asia Scholarship and pleased the award will help to ease the financial burden of spending a year abroad, which is required of the Chinese Language Flagship Program. He is spending the summer practicing his Chinese language skills so he is prepared for his classes, which will be taught entirely in Chinese, and so he is confident spending his time abroad without using English.

            “From a leisure standpoint, I hope to travel the island and interact with locals in Chinese as much as possible, which will not only help advance my Chinese skills but also allow me to meet new friends that can show me around the capital city and the rest of the country,” he said.

            After one final semester at URI in the fall of 2022, Bracken is considering enrolling in graduate school. “If that doesn’t work out, I’ve found interest in maybe working for a non-profit or doing some sort of social work, since I think the skills I’ve acquired in the international relations program will reflect well in those fields,” he said.

The Freeman Awards for Study in Asia are sponsored by the Freeman Foundation, which aims to strengthen the bonds of friendship between the United States and countries in East Asia. The need-based scholarship provides up to $7,000 to assist the recipient with the cost of a study abroad program and related expenses.

URI students interested in studying abroad are encouraged to be in contact with the URI Office of International Education. Students interested in applying for the Freeman-Asia Scholarship are also encouraged to contact Kathleen Maher in URI’s Office of National Fellowships and Academic Opportunities for guidance.