Evangeline Alva is a junior undergraduate student majoring in Linguistics with minors in Consumer Behavior and Advertising. She received the Tsai Family Research Fund for Taiwan Studies award in summer 2012 and used it towards the Problems Without Passports program in Taiwan.
Why are you studying Linguistics, and what do you enjoy most about the two majors?
I am extremely passionate about languages, and I believe that knowing languages opens a myriad of possibilities to be able to indulge oneself in a different culture. I study Linguistics in order to have a concrete foundation in the sounds and structures of language. In doing so, I want to pursue my dream of documenting dying languages, and in the process, preserve the culture so that we can have a recorded documentation of peoples’ ancestries and traditions.
How was your experience on the Problems Without Passports program to Taiwan?
My experience was nothing short of incredible. I lived in a country foreign to me, but never felt out of place. Nine USC undergraduates had the opportunity to interview and speak with the native speaker of Atayal- “Mama’ Buya”, and learn of the Atayal folklore, traditions, culture, values and current events within the small existing Atayal village of a couple hundred people. The program emphasized team work amongst the students in collaborating translations, while also enforcing individual documentation through recording natural speech via interviews, story-telling, and natural conversation with the native speakers.
How did the Tsai award help you?
The Tsai award helped me pay for the tuition of the class. If it weren’t for the generous aide, I wouldn’t have been able to pay full tuition and would have missed the opportunity to begin my dream career.
What are your future career/academic goals?
I want to help preserve memories and traditions of peoples whose culture is disappearing due to globalization, other dominant languages or state imposed laws. To further my dream, I plan on attending graduate school and focusing on ethnography and field work to document endangered languages. In addition, I also want to master the languages I know: Arabic, Hindi, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Marathi and American Sign Language; to be able to converse fluently and have common ground with people of different cultures of the world.