IU Hamilton Lugar School alumnus Evan Wright, BA East Asian Languages and Cultures ’22, is now a Science Policy Fellow with the Institute for Defense Analyses and a Nonresident Fellow with the Johns Hopkins University – Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies.
Wright will work full time for two years as a Science Policy Fellow at the Science and Technology Policy Institute in the Institute for Defense Analyses, Washington, D.C., a federally funded think tank. The Institute provides expert analysis to help inform policy decisions for government sponsors, including the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, NASA, USAID, and the U.S. Departments of State and Defense.
Wright double majored in East Asian Languages and Cultures and International Studies with a focus on Japan at the Hamilton Lugar School, and earned an Intelligence Studies minor through the IU Luddy School.
His academic background prepared him to gain prestigious internship opportunities that led to his current career.
During his last summer as an undergraduate, while completing his thesis, Wright had the opportunity to intern in the Office of Japanese Affairs at the U.S. Department of State in the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Bureau. There, he worked on issues essential to strengthening the U.S.-Japan Alliance.
“The opportunity arose because I had spent so much time working on Japan, and because of the thesis I was writing with Dr. Adam Liff on Japan’s intelligence community,” Wright explained. “Information security and intelligence sharing are big topics that are important for U.S.-Japan relations, so when I mentioned my areas of study to the State Department, they connected me with the Office of Japanese Affairs.”
During his senior year, Evan was also a Research Assistant at the Johns Hopkins University SAIS Reischauer Center and participated in the IU Department of Political Sciences’ Semester in DC program, where he took classes full time while working.
Wright’s interest in cultures and languages started as he was growing up on the south side of Indianapolis amid members of the Burmese diaspora. After his first year at IU, he spent the summer teaching English to asylum seekers and refugees through Indianapolis-based company, LUNA Language Services.
“It was an incredible opportunity that I still think about a lot to this day,” said Wright. “Indianapolis has the largest Burmese diaspora in the United States, and growing up in the area, I remember seeing friends or neighbors go through struggles. Being able to have conversations with my students and work through ways to communicate more effectively was really rewarding.”
While the pandemic prevented Wright from studying abroad in Japan as an undergraduate, he pursued virtual internship opportunities, which he says helped him rise to his current position.
One of those opportunities was being selected for a Virtual Student Foreign Service internship with the U.S. Department of State, which allowed him to work remotely for one year with the U.S. Embassy Tokyo in the Economic Section. In this position, Wright gained experience working with U.S. diplomats, learning about international trade, and making lifelong friends.
“The internship was one of the most personally gratifying experiences — being able to work on U.S.-Japan relations — even with the barriers put up by COVID,” said Wright. “It was a challenging time but I was able to get a lot out of it. I made a lifelong friend out of it, and this was all facilitated by the Department of State, which then actually led into the job I am currently doing.”
The Hamilton Lugar School’s Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures at Indiana University is dedicated to the study of this rich and diverse region, with courses and expertise ranging from contemporary politics and religion to literature and ancient philosophy.