Educating Global Citizens
My research abroad involves documenting the disappearing Ket language and documenting Ket culture and also how the Ket culture connects historically with the other cultures around it. These disciplines are exactly what I teach when I come into my East Asian Studies and Linguistics courses. Because in my East Asian Studies course, Nomads of Eurasia, I teach how people have interacted in this area over the many centuries and my understanding of the Ket directly impacts my ability to describe how people live in this area of the world. Having spent a whole winter in Siberia, when it’s 40 below zero everyday, when you can’t go outside without covering your nose with your hand so it won’t get frost bitten, having experienced this allows me to talk about it in a every different way than if I had simply read it in a book. Also, studying a language that so unusual typologically as Ket allows me to bring in many examples into my general linguistics classes of a language that isn’t in the textbooks, that hasn’t been used as an example in the textbooks. And I am able to make very many relevant comments about linguistic theory and about linguistic typology using my own personal knowledge of the Ket language, and I think the students feel that they somehow, sitting in my class, are a little bit on the cutting edge of understanding the linguistics when I’m able to bring new information that no one else knows or that is only written up for other scholars, into the classroom. I think they feel that this is a very valuable aspect of my ability to present information to them. And it comes out in my student evaluations that the students very much appreciate when I bring in my research data and research experiences into the classroom. One way is that some of my students have actually become inspired to try to study native people of the world, to try to document some of the languages that are disappearing. I just, before I came to this interview, had a conference with a student who is buying recording material to go to Tajikistan to record some of the dialects of Tajik in much the same way that I worked on Ket language, and I think that my experience must have had an effect on her in order to inspire her to pursue this type of study. So the material that I present in class inspires students to become interested in native groups of people and other groups of people of a complete different part of the world.