Campus: CSU Long Beach -- January 30, 2002

Graduate Student at Cal State Long Beach Receives Fulbright to Study Contemporary Tea Culture in Taiwan

California State University, Long Beach graduate student Robin Stevens has received a Fulbright grant to research contemporary tea culture in Taiwan.

Stevens, who is working toward a master's degree in Asian studies, will spend eight months in Taiwan. The amount of the Fulbright grant is approximately $15,000.

"I will travel to several tea areas in north and central Taiwan but will probably live in Taipei most of the time," said Stevens, whose degrees include a B.S. in International Business from San Jose State in 1989 and an M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in 1994.

"I feel it's a great honor to have received this Fulbright grant and look forward to meeting scholars in my field of study there," Stevens continued. "Tea culture is one of Taiwan's rich, cultural assets that deserves more scholarly attention. Currently, little academic research exists in the U.S. or in English on tea in Taiwan."

Stevens' passion for tea was sparked as a student at San Jose State. She spent a year abroad in Taiwan studying Chinese and business and completing an internship at the Taipei World Trade Center. "I had never enjoyed black tea because it was too strong, but Chinese tea was different," she said. "It was floral and sweet, yet strong and powerful. Drinking tea the traditional style in Taiwan involves using tiny clay pots and cups. It is social and time consuming. It became synonymous to me with Taiwan and Chinese culture."

Stevens' experience includes four years working at UCLA as a researcher in the Graduate School of Education's Center for the Study of Evaluation focusing on issues related to children who speak English as a second language. She also taught English to international students at College of the Desert.

"Going to Taiwan to study tea is an integral part of my plan to reach my long-term goals of becoming a professor of Asian studies and a Chinese tea master," said the Monterey Bay area native, who left high school early to attend Cabrillo College. Her plans also include earning a Ph.D. in Chinese culture studies and opening a traditional Chinese teahouse and cultural center.
"I want to promote cultural understanding among people of different backgrounds here and abroad," the Cal State Long Beach Fulbright scholar added.

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