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The Blogging Scholarship…In the running!

Written By: daveski on November 10, 2008 5 Comments

I’m excited to be able to write here that I’ve been chosen as one of 20 finalists for a $10,000 blogging scholarship from collegescholarships.org! The call for applications went out on October 15, and the 20 finalists are now being voted on in a public poll. Thanks again, Usree, for the heads-up!! This would really help in paying for those student loans…as well as creating a great incentive to keep this blog rolling! If you’d like to help my cause by one-click-voting and/or offering a testimonial, you can click here or on the image below, and I’ll be forever grateful.

Below I pasted my short application essay; I thought I’d just mention here that this process has already made me glad to be a part of a blog that I think has had some remarkable successes in the first year of its existence, despite significant challenges. Writing about experiences of learning, identity, and what it means to be monolingual, bilingual or multilingual on the Berkeley campus isn’t necessarily easy, and new posts don’t just pop up every day. We’ve tried to reach out to students (both undergraduate and graduate), lecturers, and professors alike, when there are few other forums on campus for equal exchanges among these populations. And with more than 80 registered users interested in almost as many languages, it feels like we’re pushing up against many conventions of the blogging genre.

Yet, these are voices that need to be heard in a society like ours, where the role of language is so often taken for granted. And, like Claire Kramsch is so fond of saying, speaking foreign languages is sexy. As much as I have been a writer, I have been inspired as a reader by the posts of others–authors like linguisticallydelicious, who struggles with lost opportunities to become fluent in another language (“I may never learn a second language“); mustikka, who begs shopkeepers to speak to her in her native Finnish…in Finland! (“Is there Finnish in Finland?“); and of course Usree, who’s posted time and time again her insights into language, literacy and technology, like the trip she took into an Indian orphanage where the children’s material impoverishment stood in dramatic contrast to their linguistic riches  (“Language and Identity at an Indian Orphanage“).

Along with these posts, you can check mine out here. New comments are always welcome on posts both new and old.

Now here’s my application essay, written in response to the prompt, “How have you used blogging to help yourself or others?”

My blog is only partially by me. Yes, I chose the name, “Found in Translation”—but only after a long process of deliberation with the staff of the Berkeley Language Center, the hub for foreign language education on the UC Berkeley campus. Yes, I chose the WordPress platform—but only with the guidance of the web developer at the BLC, where its files are stored. Yes, I designed the banner image, and chose the template, and even posted 29 times in a genre that still feels new to me. But I, a graduate student in the School of Education, am only one of over 40 authors on this blog—people who have shared their stories and thoughts about learning and losing languages growing up, humorous miscommunications while studying abroad, and what it feels like to be monolingual with multilingual friends.

Hopefully the number of users and posts will continue to rise, because ‘my blog’ is only partially for me. When I pushed to set up Found in Translation more than a year ago, it was because we Berkeley students did not have a public venue to talk about language. I organized face-to-face planning meetings with other students, made announcements in classes, and even wrote an appeal letter to the campus community.

But much work remains to be done. Through our posts, comments, and links, we have to convince others that the still-popular idea of blogs as just a platform for individual rants is wrong. And, to do so, we must cultivate a sense of shared vision, engagement, and ownership among a group of authors that includes students and professors, business majors and literature majors, and learners and speakers of dozens of different languages. Found in Translation is a work in progress, and I’m excited to take the next step.

Thanks for reading! And welcome to Found in Translation if you’d like to write.

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5 Responses to “The Blogging Scholarship…In the running!”

  1. Irene Makuch on: 10 November 2008 at 8:33 am

    Great article from a super talented young man. If the winner is the best and the smartest, you will win easily.

  2. Billette on: 11 November 2008 at 8:51 am

    I have just discovered this blog, thanks to the word being spread by Rick Kern. Excellent work, David, and thanks for creating this community of learners! Good luck.

  3. Usree Bhattacharya on: 11 November 2008 at 10:11 pm

    You’re already a winner in my book.

  4. mike humann on: 30 November 2009 at 8:06 pm

    I noticed this post has not been updated in over a year….. So I’m interested to know…did you win? I have my own personal experiences with language. I studied Spanish for a year before I moved down to Mexico. I spent 6 months there and the first two months I felt like I learned some other language than Spanish:) I guess it’s like the English in the US. Try being speaking a English as a second language and listen to someone from the Midwest, South, or even New York or Boston.

  5. daveski on: 2 December 2009 at 2:09 am

    Thanks, Mike, for the comment. I hear you on the experience of butting up against the reality of the spoken language, which sounds very little like even the CDs made by all those language learning companies to supposedly get you speaking.

    Unfortunately I didn’t win the scholarship. Perhaps it was the unconventional approach I took in my last post during the competition: http://foundintranslation.berkeley.edu/?p=376
    But more likely it was the fact that the winner was decided on the basis of number of votes, registered in clicks from unique IP addresses, by people who found out about the contest and voted for their favorite blogger. This led to some already very popular blogs (one who had a network through the Daily Kos, another through a popular sports blog) getting promoted and voted for by tons of people. We mounted a valiant effort here though. 🙂

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