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
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)