Todd Schmid '09 to Conduct Sociolinguistic Research in Paraguay with Fulbright Award
April 29, 2009
April 29, 2009, Greencastle, Ind. — DePauw University senior Todd J. Schmid will spend a year conducting research in Paraguay as a result of receiving an international graduate study and research grant through the 2009-10 Fulbright U.S. Student Program competition. Fulbright student grants aim to increase mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchange while serving as a catalyst for long-term leadership development. Schmid's research project is entitled "Sociolinguistic Politics & Bilingual Education in Contemporary Paraguay."
"The purpose of my research is to analyze the Paraguayan sociolinguistic situation from a legal perspective, using the emerging field of linguistic politics as a theoretical framework," noted Schmid in his Fulbright application. "Particularly, I will examine contemporary linguistic legislation in Paraguay surrounding bilingual education policy, considering the way in which the linguistic framework of Paraguay informs the law."
Schmid's independent research will be supplemented by language coursework at the Instituto de Lingüística Guaraní del Paraguay (the Institute for Guaraní Linguistics of Paraguay). He will also be doing coursework at the Universidad Nacional de Asunción (National University of Asunción).
"Arguably, the Paraguayan sociolinguistic scene presents itself as the most compelling case of 'diglossia,' or languages in contact, in the world," the DePauw senior notes. "Amidst a country with a long, violent history rife with abuses, slavery, dictatorships, and war, a fascinating linguistic situation has emerged: over 90% of the six million Paraguayan people continue to speak, alongside Spanish, the indigenous Amerindian language of the Guaranís. Guaraní -- an Amerindian language with a strong oral tradition spoken throughout Paraguay, as well as portions of Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia -- constitutes a keystone of the cultural heritage of Latin America."
Schmid continues, "An investigation into the legal background surrounding language planning and education policy in contemporary Paraguay will yield a profound contribution to cultural and linguistic understanding. How does the linguistic makeup of Paraguay translate to law? In particular, how has bilingual education legislation been implemented in such a linguistically integrated country?"
Schmid, who studied at the University of Buenos Aires during the Spring 2007 semester, will consider several questions in his research, among them: How do bilingual linguistic situations inform the way Paraguay writes its education laws? Does Paraguayan bilingual education policy truly reflect the sociolinguistic structure of the nation? And thirdly, Could the education system in the United States implement a similar form of bilingual pedagogy? "After returning from Paraguay, I will seek to author an article proposing a model for understanding U.S. linguistic politics, particularly current education policy relating to language acquisition and pedagogy. I believe the United States can benefit from a thorough, cross-linguistic study of Paraguayan education policy."
A double major in philosophy and Spanish with a minor in Latin American & Caribbean studies at DePauw, Todd Schmid plans to pursue a joint degree in law and Latin American studies (J.D./M.A.), specializing in international and immigration law, when he returns to the United States from his Fulbright experience. He will use his research in Paraguay as a basis for his master's thesis.
"Spanish is markedly central to my identity as both an academic and as an individual," Schmid declared in his Fulbright application. "It started one morning in the fourth grade. My teacher told us two new students were arriving from Peru: Antonio and Juan Carlos. Attempting to prepare us for the inevitable linguistic barrier, she handed us a Spanish cheat sheet. Most of my classmates became quickly disinterested with the novelty, but I eagerly memorized the list and made every effort to speak with them. Herein lies my introduction into the Latin American world."
High school Spanish teacher Andy Goodwin was another inspiration, and was recently recognized with DePauw's Battey National Educator of the Year Award as a result of Schmid's nomination. In 2004, Schmid spent seven weeks with a host family in San Luis Potosí, Mexico as part of the Indiana University Honors Program in Foreign Languages, studying Mexican literature. Last winter, Schmid worked at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill to translate the work of 16th century Spanish humanist Juan de Valdés and authored a paper, "The Linguistic and Translation Theory of Juan de Valdés," which he presented at the Carolina Conference on Romance Languages.
According to the senior, "language is a veritable kaleidoscope of one's worldview. The academic approach to the Spanish language is tantamount to my deeply ingrained passion for Latin America. Both have pointed me with infinite focus towards candidacy as a Fulbright Scholar, and I believe that a holistic identity with the area of study will enable me to maximize my stay in Paraguay. The Fulbright will constitute a keystone in my life, becoming the catalyst for my study of international and immigration law and steering the course of my intellectual and personal romance with Latin America."
"Todd's experience as a member of the prize-winning Ethics Bowl team from DePauw University, his experiences with independent research, and his skills as a writer and translator indicate that he is beautifully prepared for a year of legal and linguistic research in Paraguay," says Douglas E. Harms, Herrick E.H. Greenleaf Professor of Computer Science at DePauw and the University's Fulbright Program Adviser. "Todd describes an ambitious project exploring the relationship between language and law in the bilingual society of Paraguay. In addition to archival research, he will interview teachers and government officials to learn how language issues inform the creation of laws. Todd is well-prepared for both parts of this project: he is familiar with independent research and at ease in conversations with faculty members and policy makers. He has established affiliations with two universities. Faculty members who know Todd attest to his sophistication as a thinker, his ability to reflect on experiences, his incredible work ethic, and his interest in people from other cultures and ideas different from his own. Todd is a scholar, but he is also personable and curious, easily able to adapt to new cultures and living arrangements."
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest American international exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide. The U.S. Student Program currently awards approximately 1,500 grants annually in all fields of study, and operates in approximately 155 countries worldwide. Fulbright full grants generally provide funding for round-trip travel, maintenance for one academic year, health and accident insurance and full or partial tuition. Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 286,000 participants, chosen for their leadership potential, with the opportunity to observe each others' political, economic and cultural institutions, exchange ideas, and embark on joint ventures of importance to the general welfare of the world's inhabitants. Learn more by clicking here.
To contact Dr. Harms, the recipient of a Fulbright Award for the 2004-05 academic year, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
DePauw University is among the "Top Producers of Fulbright Awards for U.S. Students, 2008-09" according to a chart published in the October 24, 2008 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education. The publication notes that three 2008 DePauw graduates received Fulbright Awards to study and live abroad for a year, and that 17 students at the University applied for the prestigious grants.
DePauw also ranks among the top 10 baccalaureate institutions in the nation for the total number of students who studied abroad in 2006-07, according to the 2008 Open Doors report. Learn more in this story.