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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How to survive an MA program

I graduate from Brigham Young University my MA this December, although I am already at the University of Kentucky working on my PhD. I have been meaning to write a list of advice for incoming MA students since I left BYU.
My specialty was literature, so my advice specifically applies to that area of study, but I think it's general enough that pedagogy and linguistics students could also benefit.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

My name and birthplace

What is your full name? Why did your parents give you that name? 

My name is Kiersty Lemon-Rogers. I was born Kiersty Lemon. My parents were going to name me Alexander, but thankfully they decided that I might be a girl so they picked a more typically female name shortly before I was born. One of my great-great-great-something grandmothers was named Kjerstina Trulson, and my parents liked the name enough that they wanted to name me after her. They decided that most Americans (United Statesians, to be more specific) wouldn't be able to figure out how to say Kjerstina, so they went with Kiersty instead. 

When and where were you born? Describe your home, your neighborhood, and the town you grew up in.
Well, I didn't grow up in just one town. I was born in Detroit, in Henry Ford hospital where my dad was doing his residency in Emergency Medicine. The main thing I remember about Detroit is that we had a garden and a tire swing. We moved to Valparaiso, Indiana, shortly after my brother was born. He was born at home, during the last nap I ever took. I was two and a half. In Indiana we had a blue house with a hill. We lived close to my Aunt Edna and her family, and they were the closest family I had. I remember going to Primary (the children's class at our church) there, and playing with my cousins. When I was five, we moved to Quincy, Illinois. I remember the first house we lived in there, a rental house right next to Madison park. We had a merry-go-round in the back yard, too, and there were plenty of room for playing inside. We lived there until the house we lived in next was built. That house had an awesome playset that my parents built for us. When my mom was called to be the president of our ward's Relief Society, my parents decided that it would be best to move to a house with a smaller yard and less upkeep, so she would have time to dedicate to her calling. That house used to be a duplex, and it had a huge attic. Our cats loved running up all the stairs and around the attic and back down and back up again. (I'll talk about all our pets in a future post). We moved to Idaho Falls, Idaho, when I was 16, and lived there until I was 17, when I went to college and my family moved to Iowa. If you're keeping track, we've lived in all of the "I" states. I went to BYU for my undergraduate, and I visited my family for at least a couple weeks each summer and for Christmas. I think that pretty much concludes the growing up years. 

Life story questions!

Family history is super important, but it's sometimes hard to know where to start. For me, I mostly focus on indexing and writing my own story. Today I found this article with some ideas about what we can write about when we're starting our personal histories. Why do personal histories matter? Well, someday our descendants will be trying to do family history, and wouldn't you like it if your ancestors had written things down for you to find? In my next post, I'll start answering the questions, and by this time next year, more or less, I should have a significant personal history. Here's the list of questions that I found on FamilySearch if you'd like to use them:

Friday, October 2, 2015

Thoughts on shootings

So, when I think of the shootings that have taken place, I think of the suffering of the people and their families. I don't know why these things happen, but I do believe that someday, all losses will be made up. In the Book of Mormon, one of the most difficult chapters for me is Alma 14, where a group of people are killed for their beliefs. Verse ten reads, "And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children [the men had been exiled from the city] who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene?" Amulek wants terribly to put a stop to the suffering. He and Alma are tied up and forced to watch. It's horrible, and there's a distinct possibility that Amulek's wife and children are with the rest of the group that's being tortured. But they can't do anything. Alma tells Amulek, "The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of theinnocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day." That's HARD. I don't completely understand it. But I trust that God loves His children and that justice will be done in the end. 
I believe in the value of life. Our society has somehow come to believe that these tragedies are normal, that they just "happen." I don't know what to do to make them stop. Maybe we can't. But we should try. Right now, though, we should remember the victims and keep their families in our thoughts. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Education and Social Commitment

I looked for cool pictures of books and the google image search
led me to this cool blog post on reading books by women writers.
I've been thinking about the point of education and academia. I love what I do, most of the time, and my goal is to teach other people to read and write and think. And I've come to feel that although literature and cultural studies are valuable in and of themselves, one of their most important functions in our increasingly connected global society is to teach people empathy. Being able to feel what those outside of our own circles of experience feel helps people think of people as fellow humans, rather than "others" who don't matter to us. This can also help us overcome careless generalizations. The very act of reading and trying to figure out what is happening in a story trains our brains to think empathetically That's what my MA thesis deals with, in a general sense: breaking the divide between normatively separate groups of people.