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FLAS/Fulbright Graduate Spotlight: Corey Keating

Corey playing music

By: Catarina Massa, MPA '19

Corey is a DMA student in the music department at Cornell University. Originally from the west coast, Corey did not begin pursuing formal music training until his early 20s when he enrolled in his first music theory course. Primarily a pianist, Corey focuses on music theory and composition, and he is interested in the creative applications of music technology around the world. His research includes traditional and modern Vietnamese music, as well as the preservation of Vietnamese culture through archival technology.

Corey completed his Bachelor’s degree in San Jose, CA, home to the largest Vietnamese population in the U.S., and there he gained exposure to Vietnamese culture before coming to Cornell. Despite having no initial plan to work in the field of Asian Studies, he was encouraged by his graduate field advisor to explore the program after expressing interest in taking Vietnamese to fulfill his department’s language requirement. It was not long before Corey got to put his language skills to the test, traveling to Vietnam after receiving generous travel grants from SEAP. Additional funding came from two FLAS (Foreign Language and Area Studies) fellowships, as well as a recent Fulbright award.

“Vietnam was my first real trip outside the U.S.,” Corey said. “It’s a privilege to travel, to be fortunate enough to go and experience other cultures, and to see how other people interpret the world around them.” Corey added, “Seeing  people who have a fraction of what we do, yet are so generous and  welcoming, you can’t help but be humbled by that.”

Corey is fascinated by the advancement of technology and globalization, as well as the influence both have on the preservation of traditional Vietnamese culture. In previous generations, artistic traditions and culture were primarily passed down directly from teacher to student. However, these relationships are changing, and many musicians argue about what is truly “authentic” Vietnamese music. Setting this difficult issue aside, Corey sees technology as an asset that can be utilized to preserve many of these cultural traditions. With it, the wisdom and talents of culturally significant artists can be preserved for future generations, potentially eliminating some of the challenges of oral lineage traditions. Of course, technology is not without its own challenges and is not a cure-all, but Corey believes it is an extremely valuable resource at this point in time.

In the summer of 2017, Corey left for Vietnam under the auspices of the Fulbright exchange program. In a practical sense, the resources and generous financial support he received were invaluable, as they allowed him to focus on his work. Additionally, the opportunity to stay in the country for a full year “allowed for a certain level of intimacy and familiarity that you can’t get within a shorter timeframe.”

Prior to the Fulbright, Corey also received two FLAS awards, which allowed him to focus on language studies at an advanced level and gain deeper insight into the region. According to Corey, these awards were exceptional opportunities for him to go beyond his immediate areas of study and to explore the broader context of the county’s history and current climate.

After completing his degree, Corey would like to possibly return to Vietnam to teach, as there is a high demand for qualified educators and an unbridled enthusiasm for learning in the region. If not teaching, Corey would also be interested in working in some field, whether it be travel, tourism, or otherwise, to share Vietnamese culture with other travelers and introduce them to this dynamic and beautiful country.

Corey would like to thank Thuy Tranviet, Marty Hatch, Thamora Fishel, and the rest of the SEAP community for all their help and encouragement along the way.

Fun fact: Corey is an avid mycophile and forager of wild mushrooms, especially maitakes and chantrelles.

In the speaker room