Cal Poly History Student to Attend Prestigious Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute

Cal Poly history junior Madeleine Aitchison will attend the Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute (SEASSI) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for summer 2015.

Admission to the institute is competitive, as the program is one of the most comprehensive in the nation, offering students the benefits of native speakers and scholars at the top of their fields. The institute compresses one-year’s worth of material into eight weeks of intensive language training.

Madeleine AitchisonAitchison will study Vietnamese language at SEASSI as a complement to her work at Cal Poly. The desire to learn Vietnamese supports Aitchison’s dedication to widening the scope of voices involved in historical discourses during Vietnam’s times of war and colonization.

“From a historian’s perspective, a lot of the research that has been conducted on Southeast Asian cultures has been done with a Western perspective,” Aitchison said. “A really large portion of the story is taken out by not learning Vietnamese. I’m excited to bring more of the Vietnamese perspective to the narrative, in conjunction with the English and French perspectives.”

Alongside her history studies, Aitchison works for the Gender Equity Center on campus, and is an editor for the History Department’s award-winning academic journal, The Forum.

“Another aspect of my studies that I want to bring into this is my interest in feminism and oppressed groups,” Aitchison said. “I want to pursue scholarly work that highlights women and people that don’t usually get brought into historical narrative.”

Established in 1983, SEASSI was founded with the goal of providing quality language instruction in at least eight of the major Southeast Asian languages at one location during the summer. 

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