Kent State Student’s Project Draws Attention to Endangered Irish Language
Anna Hoffman, a Kent State University global communication studies and political science major from Kent, Ohio, traveled to Ireland this summer to study the country’s efforts to save its national language. Her research project was funded through a fellowship from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Hoffman was one of only 28 students nationwide to receive a fellowship for an international reporting assignment as part of the center’s Campus Consortium educational initiative.
In applying for a fellowship with the Pulitzer Center, students propose a project that involves an issue that is underreported by most news media. Hoffman’s proposal described a harsh disconnect in Ireland between the nation’s official language and those who speak it.
“While the Irish language may be the official language of Ireland, made so by the nation’s constitution, less than two percent of citizens say they speak the language daily (outside of school),” Hoffman wrote in her proposal. “From upper-middle-class parents sending their children to Irish-language schools to families who continue to speak it as the predominant language in their home, that small percentage of speakers will be responsible for giving a voice to a country that has all but let its national language vanish.”
Working as a student fellow with the Pulitzer Center allowed Hoffman to do more than just report on this issue. Instead, she says she made connections with the people affected by the problem and told the story from their perspective.
“Irish-language speakers are under immense pressure to keep an endangered language alive, and I wanted to tell their story,” Hoffman said. “Being able to report from Ireland on the threat the Irish language is under was an incredibly rewarding experience.”
Attracting International Attention
Hoffman’s research efforts on the Irish language also recently caught the attention of international media with publication on The WorldPost of the Huffington Post website. The article, “To Have Irish: The Irish are scrambling to save the most prized part of their culture,” reports on the country’s efforts to revive the national language of Irish.
“It was such an incredible moment to see my work on the Huffington Post site,” Hoffman said. “The article hadn’t even been published by the Pulitzer Center when it got published on The WorldPost.”
Translating Classroom Education Into Real World Experiences
“With her work receiving interest from the Huffington Post, Hoffman shows how communication studies students translate their classroom education into real world experiences,” said Jeff Child, interim director and associate professor for Kent State’s School of Communication Studies. “As a global communication major, Anna understands the importance of communication and interaction along with the connection between language and culture. Her work exemplifies the value in preparing students to participate in multi-cultural settings.”
Hoffman’s article that received attention from the Huffington Post is just one from a series she has written – future articles will appear on her page on the Pulitzer Center website.