2 win Asia Initiative grants

By Camille Shooshani

Gunter-Gross Asia Initiative grants were awarded to Jamie Chang ’13 and Demren Sinik ’13 to “to immerse themselves and explore Asian culture and society and to be able to bring that back to Harvard-Westlake,” history teacher Larry Klein said.

The juniors were chosen out of nine applicants for the $4,000 grant because “they both struck at the heart of the initiative.”

Chang will travel to South Korea to photograph elderly people for 12 days.

“In Korean funerals, the casket is never opened and so there’s something called a Yung Jung Sajin, which is basically a photograph of the person,” Chang said. “Some people can’t afford a photo or are physically unable to go to a photography studio, so I’m going to go to them, take their photos and frame them.”

Chang planned to photograph over 50 seniors and was inspired by her own grandparents, who took their own photos years before.

“It sounds kind of morbid to Americans because it’s not a part of American culture, but it’s an essential part of Korean culture,” Chang said.

Chang said the last time she went to Korea was eight years ago and that she is excited to go after such a long time.

While there, Chang plans to keep a daily journal to document her experience. She will also make two scrapbooks, one for the seniors in Korea and one for Harvard-Westlake. Chang is planning to create a website where she will display her photos in an online gallery.

Sinik will travel to eastern Turkey to research the changing political tides in the country.

“There’s a chance that the constitution might change to become more conservative, and I want to visit college campuses to see if young people share that wish,” Sinik said.

Sinik will study the the role of military in the government and the “clash between conservatism and secularism,” he said.