I am a historian of modern China, and devoted fan of all new experiences.
Originally from Indiana, I started studying Chinese in college after a summer trip to Taiwan with a high school classmate. I went back to Taiwan the following summer, armed with a year of the language, and more ambition than common sense (or money), meaning that I ended up sleeping in a park — while still attending class during the day, naturally. This experience really left a mark. It taught me that you can’t understand the world from inside a classroom, and that no matter how bad things look, the sun still rises in the morning.
After finishing up my undergrad degree in Chinese studies, I spent two years teaching English in Jinan and Qingdao, and then back to UCLA to do a graduate degree in history. California was incredible, but the real education was still in China, especially the two years that I spent in Tianjin doing research on lived religion in rural Cangzhou.
Since then, I have gotten to see a lot of the world – I taught at universities in Singapore and Australia, did long bike trips here and there (pro tip: check your brakes before trying to ride down the Alps), and continue to conduct extended research in China and Japan.
Research takes time. If my years of travel have taught me anything, it’s that there is no substitute for spending time on the ground, talking (and listening!) to as many people as possible, learning how their world works, and what’s important to them.