Interview with Scott Wells

Ph.D. Student
Korean Linguistics

Tell us a little about yourself, your background and how you became interested in Asian Studies?

I grew up in the high desert of New Mexico’s Four Corners region. I am the fifth child of seven, a father of three, and a husband of one. I first went to Korea in 2000 as a Mormon missionary. I took a B.A. from Brigham Young University in Korean and Linguistics.

Why did you choose the Asian Studies program at UBC? Was there an aspect of the program or location that was particularly attractive to you compared to other programs in Canada or internationally?

I came to UBC to work with Ross King. In the senior year of my B.A. program, Dr. King visited BYU to recruit counselors for the Korean language summer camp that he shepherds in the northern Minnesota woods. While there he gave several talks and guest lectures. I was already considering graduate school, but hearing from Dr. King sealed the deal for me and I was determined that if he would have me, I wanted to be his student.

Though I didn’t know much about it at the time, UBC has a truly amazing student family housing community, Acadia Park. I came to UBC married and with a 10-month old daughter. Were it not for Acadia Park, I cannot imagine what my children’s experience of their dad’s 10 years of grad school would be like.

Could you explain to a non-expert what you are researching and why it is important?

Imagine studying the transition in England from a traditional education in Latin and Greek to a modern education in English. I study a similar transition but in early twentieth century Korea, as Koreans developed a modern educational system that pushed Literary Chinese to the margins of their teaching and centered vernacular Korean as the primary medium of instruction.

As a graduate student, what are your main activities?

Reading, writing, fathering, and husbanding.

Can you give any advice to new students in our program or for students considering applying to  it?

If you’re half way through your first year of grad school and are wondering why everyone knows so much more than you, don’t freak out. It’s normal.