I use this blog to engender the same degree of dynamic reflexivity.
I was made aware of language at an early age. We moved a great deal when I was growing up and I often had an accent, which when I was very young was actually interpreted as a speech impediment (ask me sometime about my pet theory about how speech therapy as a child cultivates budding linguists). Growing up in Canada, we all study French and when I studied Spanish in Arizona, what most fascinated me were the underlying systematicities and differences that I could uncover by studying and comparing these languages to each other. I loved music and word play, and acting and forensics, but it was not until I did my year abroad in Costa Rica that I learned that all of these things come together in the study of something called linguistics. I had found my calling.
The only problem came when I came back home to figure out what to do with my life!
I knew what I was passionate about, but I did not know how to turn that into meaningful employment. So I went wherever language led me. First it was a Mexican restaurant, and picked up some miscellaneous jobs teaching English and Spanish. Just when I started applying to jobs at universities to work with study abroad programs, I got offered an opportunity to move to NYC, and within a few months, my ability to speak Spanish got me hired as an “interpreter” in an investment bank. Linguistics was there at the back of my mind all along, and when I learned that my company would pay me to get an MA if I could just convince them that it would help me do my job better, I began the pitch that I spiel to this day about: That when you begin to see that language is everywhere you want to be better able to harness the power of being an observant and effective communicator. That was the first step on a journey that brought me to Georgetown University where I now direct the M.A. In Language and Communication where I continue to wax rhapsodic about the possibilities of applying sociolinguistics.
The task which is at the top of my mind these days is helping students bring their awareness of language and culture to the job search. Ultimately this process is a series of very important narratives which we are uniquely capable of crafting. However, this is only the beginning: The skills that you cultivate as a linguist will serve you in navigating whatever the future brings, whether that be a job, or further study, or simply in better understanding how you interact with the people in your life. Language is everywhere, tell me about where you see it!