The Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies first opened its doors in 1987, thanks to a  generous donation by Mansfield Freeman, Class of 1916, who had a keen interest in East Asia throughout his long life (1895-1992).

The studio name of the Mansfield Freeman Center-Zhi Xue Tang in Chinese or Shigakudo in Japanese, means Hall of Commitment to Learning. The name is meant to suggest a distinctive approach to intercultural study. It alludes to one of the oldest and most widely quoted texts in all of East Asia, the Analects of Confucius. In book II, chapter 4 of that work, the Master sketches his intellectual autobiography as follows: "At fifteen I set my heart on learning. At thirty, I stood firm. At forty, I had no doubts. At fifty, I understood the decrees of heaven. At sixty, I heard them with a docile ear. At seventy, I followed my heart's desire without transgressing what is right." By using the first words of this passage-zhi, "to grasp with one's heart/mind," and xue, "learning"-we invite students, faculty, and visitors alike to contemplate the challenges and rewards that lie ahead for anyone who would embark upon the journey of understanding another culture.

In 2006 the Center was expanded to include a new lecture hall and updated gallery storage. The Center is now home to the College of East Asian Studies, a vibrant academic major and minor that enables students to gain a deep and diverse understanding of East Asian language and culture.

The Mansfield Freeman Center also offers many resources for the public, including a regular lecture series, tea ceremony and garden demonstrations set in its beautifully crafted Japanese tea room and garden, semi-annual exhibits, and a student-run outreach program for schools.

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