Keenan Madson, a junior history major, has a dream of designing theme park rides. On Feb. 14, he found out that this summer, he will get a step closer to that dream, and in doing so, he will become the first ever Gustavus student to intern in China.
“I will be working in Guangzhou, China (a city in southern China about an hour south of Hong Kong) at an amusement park with a team of engineers,” Madson said.
“We will be creating an historical reenactment of 1940s China. How exactly we will be doing that is up in the air; whether it is a theme park ride or a play of sorts, I don’t know what exactly it will be yet.”
“As a history major, working on a project centering on historical reenactments is such a rare opportunity. And, assuming the project is on China’s resistance to Japan’s invasion, Keenan will have the opportunity to see how historical memory is created and ‘enhanced,’” Madson’s advisor in the history department, David Obermiller, said.
“Such reenactments say less about the past and more about the present, specifically the very tense relationship between China and Japan, that ccurred over 70 years ago, about present economic tensions and territorial disputes (Senkaku Island dispute). I have a feeling Keenan will get some experiences that few Asian specialists have ever experienced,” Obermiller said.
While the internship doesn’t require a great deal of proficiency in Chinese, Madson vaulted to the top of the list because of the Chinese language program at Gustavus.
“I started taking Chinese as a sophomore. I knew a foreign exchange student from China my freshman year, and he was the one who convinced me to take it. It has been one of the most challenging experiences in my life, but it has been incredibly rewarding.”
Madson first heard about the internship opportunity from professors Shannon Cannella and Lianying Shan back in the middle of December. Madson quickly applied by the end of that month.
Besides this internship amazing opportunity, Madson will also be studying abroad in China next fall, at the prestigious Fudan University in Shanghai. With all this experience, he wants to help develop the East Asian studies program here at Gustavus.
“My goal is to enhance my language skills and use those skills, along with my experience, to build the Chinese and East Asian program over here. The program is really emerging, and I am hoping that I can help expand it.”
“It’s a growing curriculum, but we haven’t yet established a formal program, yet there is definitely interest from the student body. It could likely be similar to the African Studies program. It’s an ongoing discussion,”Cannella said.