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IGALA 9: The Best Graduate Paper Prize Winner tells us her experience.

Several months have passed since IGALA 9 and I have had time to reflect on the

events and experiences that were packed into four days at City University of Hong

Kong. This was my first time attending an IGALA conference, as well as my first time

traveling to Hong Kong. I loved the welcoming environment of the conference and

the people that I met. I am already looking forward to IGALA 10.

I feel very lucky to have attended IGALA 9. As a student, I wasn’t sure that I would

be able to afford traveling between LA and Hong Kong, the high cost of hotels in

Hong Kong, and the conference registration fees even if my abstract were accepted.

However, the conference organizers work hard to make the conference accessible,

especially to graduate students. Thanks to Holly Cashman’s grant writing efforts, a

National Science Foundation grant allowed many U.S.-based students to attend, and

IGALA provides a “hardship registration” fund for students in economically

disadvantaged countries.

Conferences are expensive and stressful, and this is the only one I have ever been to

where organizers make huge efforts to reduce the financial stress. These actions did

not go unnoticed: attending the conference introduced me to research, methods, and

knowledge from scholars all over the world. I feel lucky to now be involved in an

organization that makes a point of bringing people from all over the world together

to discuss gender, sexuality, and language, and I feel especially lucky that this

organization cares about accessibility. I am hopeful that future IGALA conferences

will be even more accessible to attendees, and that the organization will continue to

grow and diversify.

Even beyond investing in graduate student travel and attendance, the conference

was full of opportunities for students to learn more about academia and to get

feedback on projects. There were two graduate student workshops: one on

publishing led by Tommaso Milani and one on the academic job market led by Lia

Litosseliti, Holly Cashman, and Agnes Kang. In each, presenters shared their own

experiences and relevant information before opening the floor to audience

questions—of which we had many. I found these workshops incredibly useful

because of the stellar presentations, but also because I was able to hear questions,

concerns, and anxieties from other graduate students.

All of these efforts created a conference environment where new members could

feel just as included in IGALA as more senior members. The panels that I went to

were well attended, and audience members asked questions and gave constructive

feedback to presenters in every stage of their research projects. I felt like I could ask

questions as an audience member without feeling embarrassed. I also got incredible

feedback on my article and presentation from scholars I never would have dreamed

would have taken an interest before attending IGALA 9.

The keynote speaker presentations, panels, workshops, shared meals, and

adventures around Hong Kong were unforgettable. However, my favorite thing

about attending IGALA 9 are the relationships that have extended beyond our four

days together, especially the friendships I made with graduate students. In the few

months since traveling to Hong Kong many of my new friends have provided

feedback and support as I am beginning a new fieldwork project in Chile, and I have

been lucky enough to hear about some of the projects that they are working on. I

know that these relationships will be invaluable as we move forward in academia in

shaping research in language, gender, and sexuality.

Thank you to Brian King and City University of Hong Kong for organizing and

hosting such a wonderful conference, to Ben Rowlett for his hard work as graduate

student representative, and to IGALA for creating a community that is so oriented

toward graduate student support.

(Graduate Students, IGALA9 May2016 Hong Kong)

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