Student Profile:
Timothy Joseph (T.J.) Barton, 18
Lovett School, senior

It’s not uncommon for students to develop a fascination with other cultures, but not many take their commitment as far as Lovett senior Timothy Joseph (T.J.) Barton has.

T.J. started studying Chinese at Lovett in the seventh grade and expanded his Asian studies to include Japanese language and culture. The more he has learned about Asia, the more his passion has grown, he said. “The culture can be so starkly different from our own. That is what really intrigues me about it.

“I am very much attracted to the very different sense of community and social obligation in many Asian cultures. … Asian language is particularly interesting as they are so unique and have thousands of years of history behind them.”

But T.J. didn’t stop at studying Asia in the classroom. He went to Tokyo to do internships for three summers in a row and takes a personal interest in helping Chinese and Japanese people in need.

In Tokyo, T.J. lived in the Shinjuku area and interned in the human resources division of San Fransisco-based Gap Inc. He immersed himself in the local culture, and when he left Japan, he received a Round of Applause award from the Gap.

T.J. founded the school’s Asian Culture Club his freshman year. The club does charity work for Asian-related causes, hosts discussions of Asian politics and culture, screens Asian films, and has Asian-themed parties with ethnic food. For several years, the club has initiated a toy drive for the Japanese Children’s Cancer Foundation.

When a massive 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck southwestern China in May, T.J. and the Asian Culture Club set about raising $1,200 for the Chinese Heritage Foundation by selling customized T-shirts through a Web site and soliciting funds from local residents and businesses.

“My thought was that a sense of community didn’t have to be just geographical,” T.J. said. “American students can care about and sympathize with students and people anywhere who are enduring difficult circumstances such as the earthquake.”

What’s Next:

T.J. didn’t say what his exact college plans are, but he aims to become a theoretical physicist and hopes to participate in international research.