Study Abroad and Diversify Your College Experience

Danielle Corcioneby Danielle Corcione
Fall 2014 Chapter President
Omega Omega Chapter
Ramapo College of New Jersey, Mahwah, NJ

This spring, I studied abroad in Bangalore, India. After spending three weeks in Prague last summer, I was inspired to pursue a semester-long program focusing on sustainable development. Technically, it wasn’t academically oriented on literature or language; however, I saw this as a challenge, and I was thrilled to pursue a different kind of opportunity.

While there are more programs that aren’t focused around literature (compared to those that are), study abroad programs still incorporate literature in order to learn about host countries. I learned how imperialism intersects with the humanities. In my Indian Culture and Society course, I read an English translation of Samskara, U. R. Ananthamurthy’s 1965 novel. The story takes place in a Brahmin settlement in pre-liberated, rural India outside of the Western Ghats. The time period indicates a political significance. It compares the sixties to the time shortly before the end of British rule. (India gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1947.) As an imperialist art, the narrative form echoes a French existentialist structure, and English translation inherently exaggerates this influence.

Danielle Corcione Blog PictureThere was plenty of time for independent reading. I stayed in an ashram in the countryside, about fifteen kilometers outside the city, which fostered an ideal, relaxed atmosphere for any bibliophile. According to my Goodreads account, I read thirty-nine books during my trip including Hind Swaraj, Mohandas Gandhi’s most monumental work about his opinions on Indian traditions, modern civilization, and industrialization, and Half Girlfriend, a bestselling novel published in India last year by Chetan Bhagat. When a university friend rejects the protagonist’s request to take her out on a date, she agrees to be his “half girlfriend.” The country’s patriarchy speaks loudly here.

For our final projects, my class conducted independent fieldwork. I researched Adivasi women that were affected by tribal displacement. In the Western Ghats, tribal communities are forced out of their natural habitats. For many, they’ve lived inside the forest, where their ancestors have dwelled for centuries. I used the oral tradition as a medium to learn about their culture and interviewed women about stories that have been passed down for generations. Predominately, their stories focused on holiday celebrations, honoring their ancestors, and prayers.

Jump outside your comfort zone. I encourage all members of Sigma Tau Delta to pursue study abroad. It’s an excellent opportunity to expand and challenge your academic experience. Don’t shut out programs that may not be concentrated on English literature. It could be an opportunity to diversify your college experience.

Scholarships to Help Fund a Study Aboard Experience

The Summer Program Scholarship provides up to $1,500 for the purposes of attending a special summer program, either in the U.S. or abroad, which furthers the applicant’s engagement with Sigma Tau Delta’s mission. Qualifying summer programs must be at least three weeks in length and no longer than three months. Applicants should demonstrate academic scholarship and chapter service and must explain the relevance of their summer program to fostering their engagement in the discipline of English, including literature, language, writing, or literacy.

The Study Abroad Scholarship provides up to $3,000 for the purposes of studying in a program that furthers the applicant’s engagement with Sigma Tau Delta’s mission for an academic term or year in a certified, undergraduate program outside the country in which the nominating chapter is located. Applicants should demonstrate academic scholarship and chapter service; they also must explain the relevance of their study abroad program and activities to fostering the discipline of English, including literature, language, writing, or literacy.

Applications will be accepted between September 7 and November 9, 2015.

Coming to Terms with Calling Yourself a Writer

Mercedes JamesMercedes James
Student Representative Far Western Region
Alpha Epsilon Tau Chapter
Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, CA

When someone asks me to talk about myself, I usually give the generic, “I’m a senior at APU, majoring in English with a focus on writing,” etc. Every now and then I spice it up and add I am studying to be a professor or something to that effect. Recently though, my friend was reading through a short biography I wrote for my school’s literary journal. She paused for a moment, looked at me and said, “Dude! You didn’t even call yourself a writer!” She was right.

In all actuality, I didn’t consider myself a writer up to that point. My work had been published in a couple different journals, I have writer friends, I’ve attended poetry readings, written reviews, and done all of those sorts of “writer-y” things, but identifying myself as a writer seemed presumptuous somehow. I’m sure I’m not the only English student who feels this way.

Dickinson and Faulkner

Emily Dickinson and William Faulkner

The truth is, I had been conditioned to think that if no one paid me for my work, my writing was little more than a hobby. But when my friend pointed out the absence in my biography, I had to rethink what the title meant. Defined plainly, a writer is someone who writes, but that seems an oversimplification. If a writer is only someone who writes, then the average Joe jotting down thoughts in his journal could be lumped into the same category as Dickinson or Faulkner. We know, though, that these writers are revered for their unparalleled skill and timeless works.

However, even these two writers differed in success during their lifetimes. Faulkner enjoyed recognition as a writer while he was alive, but Dickinson was a shut in and did not gain writing notoriety until after she passed. Still, no one can deny her the title. This begs the question; when are you a writer? Is it after publishing a book? After being featured in the New Yorker? Sooner? The first time you let someone read your work or after taking your first college writing course above the freshman level?

Are you a writer?I still don’t know the answer to the question. What I do know is that if no one ever reads another of my short stories or poems again, if I never get a dime for my work, I will still write. Perhaps this profound need to put pen to paper or fingertips to keys is what truly defines a writer.

When did you first call yourself a writer? Leave your thoughts in the comments.



Sigma Tau Delta Writing Opportunities

More Than Words

rdurborowR.J. “Chaos” Durborow
Student Advisor, 2014-2016
Pi Omega Chapter
Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, KY

You know, I’m frequently asked why I am so committed to Sigma Tau Delta. Let me relate a recent experience that illustrates the point more eloquently than my poor command of the English language ever could. As some of you may have heard, Tim Leonard’s (Student Advisor) service dog, Ginger, is ill. I saw a post on Tim’s Facebook page which alerted me to the situation. I, as you might expect, posted a plea for prayers and good wishes on the Sigma Tau Delta Student Leader’s Facebook page. In less than an hour (47 minutes, to be precise) all six regions, the Central Office, and the Alumni Representative “liked” the post, acknowledging and supporting Tim and Ginger in their time of need. This may not seem like much, but to me (and I expect to Tim and Ginger) it was an act of truest friendship, of family.

Tim and Ginger

Tim and Ginger

We often hear new members and first-time convention attendees remark that they feel like they “fit” in Sigma Tau Delta more than in any other organization. That’s what happens when you get a bunch of English Geeks (NOT Greeks) together in one place. It’s not so much about the words as it is about the heart. I felt the same at my first convention. The feeling hasn’t faded.

Sigma Tau Delta is my family in ways I scarcely understand, but am grateful for to the core. My closest friends are members of this amazing organization. I love those beautiful people, more than I have words to express. Why am I so committed to Sigma Tau Delta? That’s why.

I am honored to be your Senior Student Advisor (SA), humbled at the quality of the Student Leaders I work with, grateful for the support and guidance of the Central Office and Board, and committed to Sigma Tau Delta till the day I die…longer, if I can manage it. Thank you all for who you are, what you stand for, and showing this poor poet that it’s about more than words.

With Some of Our SRs in Albuquerque, NM

2014-2015 Student Leaders with Ginger