By Nicola Daly, The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato, New Zealand
Being a Fulbright Scholar in Worlds of Words is an amazing privilege. I arrived here in late October 2019 and will leave at the end of February 2020, after a four-month period. There are many scholarships available through Fulbright, all of them encouraging exchange between the United States and another country in the world. The Fulbright program was started in 1946 by Senator J. William Fulbright with the express purpose of fostering international exchange to encourage world peace and understanding. There are a range of exchanges available for teachers, postgraduate students and academics between the United States and approximately 160 counties in a range of 8,000 grants annually. Since its inception, there have been over 370,000 Fulbrighters who have participated in the program.
My experience as a Fulbrighter at WOW involves giving several public talks about New Zealand children’s books and giving guest lectures in a range of children’s literature courses about my own work with bilingual picturebooks. I am interested in how such books lay out the text of the two languages within a book, and whether this favors one language over another and what this might tell the reader about the status of the language in the country of publications. I have looked at Māori-English picturebooks in New Zeland, Spanish-English picturebooks in the United States, and multilingual picturebooks housed at the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany. Some of these books had up to 11 languages within one book!
I have also had the pleasure of attending regular author events hosted in Worlds of Words. I heard Stevie Lewis talk about illustrating her picturebooks about the sun and the moon, and Isabelle Quintero talk about writing My Papi has a Motorcycle. In both cases the presenters were very engaging, and this adds to our understanding of what it takes to make an excellent picturebook.
The Teen Reading Ambassador Program (known as TRAP) also runs out of WOW, and I have been very honored to participate in discussions of Kathleen Glasgow’s book How to Make Friends with the Dark leading up to a session where we met Kathleen, who spoke about writing this young adult novel. To see the engagement of the teenagers in this program is inspiring.
The Director of WOW is Professor Kathy Short, and she is my amazing host and colleague for the Fulbright program while I’m at the University of Arizona. She and the Associate Director, Rebecca Ballenger seem to work seamlessly to administer the library and the many programs operating out of it (including backpacks and book boxes). As well as this, Kathy supervises many doctoral students and teaches fabulous courses at doctoral level. I have been able to sit on these courses, and meet her dedicated students, as well as follow Kathy on several conference trips, including the United States Board on Books for Young people (USBBY) conference in Austin, Texas as well as the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) conference in Baltimore, Maryland. On these trips, I met with many colleagues in my field, explored the option of having several colleagues visit me later in New Zealand. The opportunities for engagement and exchange are and continue to be many and varied.
This is just a taste of my experiences as a Fulbright scholarship based at WOW. It has been a warm, rich and diverse experience thus far, and I still have two more weeks! I am certain it is an experience that will continue to shape and grow my work as a children’s literature academic in New Zealand. I’d like to end by expressing my appreciation, both to the Fulbright Organization for the amazing opportunity, and to Professor Kathy Short, Rebecca Ballenger and the University of Arizona, who agreed to host me, and who have made me feel so welcome.
Journey through Worlds of Words during our open reading hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. To view our complete offerings of WOW Currents, please visit its archival stream.