Member Spotlight: Chelsea Davidson

Chelsea Davidson is an ESL tutor who teaches independently under her brand, Birdie English. A new AAS member—she joined the association on March 3, 2023—Davidson is broadly interested in Asian Studies, English Language Education/Applied Linguistics, and Interdisciplinary Studies; her countries of focus are South Korea (ROK), China, and Japan.

Why did you join AAS and why would you recommend AAS to your colleagues?

In 2015, I earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Asian Studies at Towson University. This concentration allowed me to study various disciplines such as language, philosophy, politics, geography, history, etc., all thematically centered on the Asian world. Since graduating, I have struggled to stay connected with the academics of the region. Therefore, I joined to have direct access to the research of the leading minds of field; to stay informed on the topics that interest me.

In addition, I earned a CELTA—the Certificate for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages—in 2021. My passions for language and Asia motivated me to become an English Tutor with a focus on teaching students from Asia. By joining the AAS, there is the opportunity for me to connect with language experts from the region and to also keep learning about Asian societies so that my instruction remains culturally sensitive.

I would recommend my colleagues join the AAS so that they too can stay informed. Associations are a wonderful way to get involved in the things that you are passionate about. There are ways to be a part of this academic community outside of social media, and joining the AAS is one of them. It is meaningful and signifying, and is a way to show your dedication to the field.

How did you first become involved in the field of Asian Studies?

I am a classically trained singer and spent much of my adolescence and young adulthood being steeped in Western classical music. Music is my first passion but by the end of my junior year at college, I was ready for a change. Therefore, I first became involved in the field of Asian Studies as a student. I changed my major from Vocal Performance to Asian Studies so that I could gain a fresh perspective on life, culture, and academics. I think it is one of the best decisions I have ever made!

What do you enjoy most or what were your most rewarding experiences involving your work in Asian Studies?

I most enjoy connecting to the people from the other side of our planet. Being from Maryland, USA, East Asia is almost as far away from home as one can get. In 2014, I traveled to Tokyo, Japan to study abroad for the summer. I remember looking out from the plane window and thinking, “I don’t belong here.” But then the hospitality of the Japanese people was immediately and profoundly evident as I stepped off the plane. I was not home, and maybe I did not belong, but we were connected! It is a feeling that I now get to experience as a tutor, too. Maybe we all do not speak the same language, but there are basic human experiences that allows us to communicate and learn.

Tell us about your current or past research.

I have not been involved with any research. I will have to think of something good what that time comes!

What advice or recommendation do you have for students interested in a career in Asian Studies?

I would give them the advice that I would go back and give myself as a student: keep your mind open. Academics is a tough field to get into, but there is so much room to grow. Just keep learning and go easy on yourself if things are slow. Network and study a language, too! I promise it will teach you about so much more than just words and grammar.

Outside of Asian Studies, tell us something fun or interesting about yourself.

When I was in Japan I stayed with a lovely host family. One night, after dinner, my host-family brought out grapes for dessert. We all grabbed one and I took a bite at mine. However, they did not – they squeezed out the flesh and discarded the skin. Everyone looked at me in bewilderment and asked, “what are you doing?” I looked back at them equally as confused and asked, “what are you doing?” We all then burst into laughter. As it turns out there are different species of grapes in Japan that I had never eaten before! The skins on the Japanese variety are too tough to chew!

The AAS Secretariat is closed on Monday, May 29 in observance of the Memorial Day holiday