Robarts Library. Yassine Elbaradie/THE VARSITY

On September 25, 2015, the University of Toronto received an anonymous $5 million donation to endow the Asian Institute of the Munk School of Global Affairs.

The donation was made in honour of the late Richard Charles Lee, to launch the Asian Pathways Research Lab. Students in the undergraduate program, Contemporary Asian Studies, expect to see an improved curriculum that focuses on more experiential learning as well as further research opportunities. The Dr. David Chu program in Contemporary Asian Studies offers an interdisciplinary approach to Asia’s history in the context of current issues and challenges.

Eros Grinzato, a fourth-year student double majoring in Economic and Contemporary Asian Studies and co-president of the Contemporary Asian Studies Student Union (CASSU), said that he is very excited about the recent donation. While he may not get to personally experience the benefits from the donation, he said that he is excited about how it will benefit future undergraduate students.

Although every year a number of students in the Contemporary Asian Studies (CAS) program already receive the opportunity to conduct fieldwork in Asia, Grinzato says that he “was glad to learn that part of the donation will be used to further improve the international opportunities offered to undergraduate students…[introducing the new courses will make] the program more complete and competitive at the global level.”

Susan Cui, a fourth-year student double majoring in International Relations and Economics, with a minor in CAS and also co-president of CASSU, shares Grinzato’s views. She said that the donation will generate learning opportunities extending beyond the classroom as well as funding for student initiatives: “The anonymous gift of 5 million dollars to the Asian Institute will open the pathway to innovative learning opportunities to the undergraduate students within the Contemporary Asian Studies program and its affiliated programs.”

Stanley Chia, a second-year student double majoring in International Relations and History with a minor in CAS is especially looking forward to the experiential learning that the donation will fund, “Since some of us have never travelled to Asia before, I believe that the gift of $5 million will go a long way in aiding us in our pursuits to go to Asia [for research].”

“Currently, the AI and the CAS Program offers a number of awards and overseas research grants and opportunities like the Dr. Chu Scholarships in Asia-Pacific Studies, the International Course Module to Vietnam, and the Kakehashi Project” said Daniel Park, a third-year student double majoring in International Relations and CAS. Park hopes that with the new funding, introductions of further opportunities can be made.

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