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Fadness Wins Scholarship for China Study
July 13, 2005

A Calvin College student with a remarkable proficiency for languages has received a grant from the Freeman Foundation to live and study for a semester in China.

Jana Fadness, a Calvin junior majoring in Asian studies, has already spent two months of her sophomore summer on a Calvin internship, studying Japanese and teaching English in Tokyo. The recent $5,000 Freeman-ASIA Award will allow her to add Chinese to her repertoire.

"I've always been interested in Asia and Asian cultures," she says, "and I'm interested in foreign languages."

Larry Herzberg, a Calvin associate professor of Chinese and Japanese, says Fadness is underselling her abilities.

"Jana is really exceptional," he says simply.

Herzberg first became acquainted with Fadness when she, as a first-year Calvin student without any formal training in Japanese, asked to enroll in a third-year Japanese language class.

"She was self-taught in Japanese," he says. "She learned it all on the internet."

Herzberg was more than a little skeptical.

"So I gave her some textbooks," he says, "and she didn't have any trouble with them at all. That's when my jaw really dropped."

He adds: "What she did takes not only a tremendous amount of ability, but a tremendous amount of discipline."

Calvin is the only evangelical Christian college or university that has an Asian Studies Program, a program that has itself been significantly enhanced by an $800,000 grant from the Freeman Foundation in 2001.

Last year Calvin, which offers four years of both Chinese and Japanese language study, created a new Asian Studies major, which draws on the resources of several departments including Asian Studies, philosophy, religion, history, English, communication arts and sciences, political science, art and health, physical education, recreation, dance and sport.

The Asian Studies offerings at Calvin were a big draw for Fadness, a native of Centralia, Washington.

"One of the reasons I came to Calvin," she says, "is I knew I wanted to take Japanese. I find Asian culture fascinating. It isn't like European cultures, not that there's anything wrong with European cultures. It is more different and I guess I just like things that are more different."

Her taste is shared by a growing number of Calvin students.

Herzberg says Calvin is seeing an increase in the number of students going to Asia, including a 50 percent increase in enrollment for the Beijing semester program this fall.

~written by media relations staff writer Myrna Anderson