View over the Reef Rookery to the town of St. PaulI’m starting my third year at the University of  Virginia this fall, where I major in linguistics, which is how I ended up applying to work on this summer intensive. Other than languages, I spend a lot of time on the college radio station and buying/cooking/eating/thinking about food. I’m from North Carolina so I’ve already had the pleasure of introducing the WAYK team to what Robyn has deemed “Poor man’s pulled pork” (AKA hand-ripped deli ham and barbeque sauce on some bread).

Casey Boyette on St. Paul IslandI found WAYK after looking around the internet for any project that I, as an undergraduate student with absolutely no experience in the language field outside of the classroom, might possibly be qualified to help with. So far my WAYK experience has left me with such a positive impression that anyone and everyone can do what we’re doing this summer. I love what I study and Robyn and I have had geek sessions already, discussing things like the arguments for and against linguistic relativity, but the most fascinating thing to have learned so far is that actual language revitalization doesn’t require any of the knowledge I picked up in the classroom. As much as I thought I’d be using the IPA and spending my days questioning my theories about the grammatical structure of the language, so far it’s been a blast just catching up my fluency to where the local project members’ are before we join the team already heading off to hunt some more.

My favorite thing about the island so far is the realization I had today, that every member of the WAYK team is always at most a mile away from actual, real-life seals. And the seals have been amazing, even as a North Carolinian who resents being outside longer than required to get from point A to point B in weather that requires both a scarf and a hat. Any explanation needed can be found in the following video:

Written by Evan Gardner