Standing Committee Updates
June 2023 AAALetter
Conference Connections in Portland: Mentorship Provided|Dustin Crowther
Applied Linguistics for Social Justice|Bedrettin Yazan & Anwar Ahmed
Dustin Crowther, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Chair, AAAL Committee on Conference Connections
Aloha! As Chair of the AAAL Committee on Conference Connections these past and upcoming years, I am happy to provide you with an update on our recent conference activities. As is widely known, the conference theme for AAAL 2023 was “Collaborating and Mentoring in Applied Linguistics.” Conference events that promoted mentoring included new attendee orientations, multiple colloquiums on mentorship in applied linguistics, and a pre-conference roundtable social mixer for graduate students, just to name a few. The AAAL Conference Connections committee could not be happier to have additionally contributed to this theme of mentorship. For 2023, 202 AAAL student members received mentoring from 118 established AAAL members. Among our mentees, 14 were post-doctoral scholars, 167 were PhD students, 18 were Master’s-level students, and three were undergraduate students, demonstrating the wide range of students attending AAAL.
For those not familiar, Conference Connections facilitates mentoring in both a small-group setting (one mentor with two or three mentees) or through one-on-one sessions (one mentor, one mentee). Small-group mentoring focuses on navigating the annual AAAL conference, writing successful conference/research proposals, and becoming more involved in the field of applied linguistics during graduate study. One-on-one mentoring focuses on topics such as converting conference presentations into publications, securing funding for research, and navigating the academic job market.
For 2023, 80 mentors provided one-on-one mentoring for 112 mentees, while 38 mentors provided small group mentoring for 90 mentees.
Beyond a heartfelt thank you to all of our 2023 mentors, I would also like to acknowledge Matthew Kessler (University of South Florida), Jiyoon Lee (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), and Bedrettin Yazan (University of Texas at San Antonio), who have now rotated off the Conference Connections committee. Matt, Jiyoon, and Bedrettin have been integral members of the committee since its inception five years ago. Stepping in for the three of them, beginning with AAAL 2024, will be Anna Mendoza (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) and Irina Zaykovskaya (University of Minnesota), along with PhD student In Ji Sera Chun (University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa). Manka Varghese (University of Washington) will join us as our liaison to the AAAL Executive Committee, as Ryuko Kubota (University of British Columbia) takes up her position as First Vice President of AAAL and conference organizer for 2024. Best of luck, Ryuko! Finally, I would like to thank our remaining and dedicated team of committee members, whom I greatly look forward to working with this coming year: Brittany Frieson, Mihiri Janza, Irasema Mora Pablo, Oksana Moroz, and Romy Ghanem.
With our new members in tow, the Conference Connections committee looks forward to continuing our work of providing AAAL’s student members with structured opportunities to receive mentorship from more senior members of the field of applied linguistics in Houston. Given the 2024 theme of “Thinking Otherwise, Acting for Change,” we envision that what mentorship provides, beyond general professional growth, will allow mentees to recognize how their contributions to the field of applied linguistics can promote positive social, economic, and emotional growth across various social and institutional domains.
Bedrettin Yazan, The University of Texas at San Antonio, and Anwar Ahmed, University of British Columbia
Chair and Vice Chair, AAAL Public Affairs and Engagement Committee (PAEC)
Have you been looking for a meaningful professional outlet for responding to current events that impact people and communities locally, nationally, and internationally? Are you interested in collaborating with other applied linguists to advocate and mobilize for social change? Then we encourage you to get involved in the work of the AAAL Public Affairs and Engagement Committee (PAEC).
What is the PAEC? Who serves on the committee?
The Public Affairs and Engagement Committee (PAEC) is made up of scholars/ practitioners with a range of expertise in applied linguistics topics relevant for social change: Uju Anya, Katherine Moran, Peter De Costa, Amelia Tseng, Bedrettin Yazan, and Anwar Ahmed as well as graduate student representative John Wayne dela Cruz. The committee is a standing committee of AAAL formed in December 2016 as “an important means by which AAAL members can bring their collective expertise to bear on issues of social importance and inform public debate by speaking to issues of social and professional relevance.” The PAEC aims (1) to represent the AAAL membership in relation to public issues and (2) to facilitate AAAL members’ involvement in issues of public importance.
The PAEC would like to extend a message of gratitude and appreciation to Netta Avineri, who served as the founding chair and led the committee from 2016 to 2022. The chair position will now rotate on a yearly basis. Rachel Showstack completed her term as Chair in March 2023; Bedrettin Yazan is the new PAEC Chair, and Anwar Ahmed is the Vice Chair.
What does the PAEC do?
Since 2017, the PAEC has focused on creating position statements, endorsing professional organization and congressional statements, participating in advocacy and social justice events at AAAL and TESOL, and building membership in the applied linguistics and social justice listserv.
On March 18, 2023, the PAEC held its open meeting at the AAAL conference in Portland, with 18 AAAL members in attendance, productively brainstorming future initiatives in which the PAEC can engage. Additionally, two of 25 AAAL members (namely Rossina Soyan of Carnegie Mellon University and Jill Hallett of University of Illinois) who were selected to participate in the Write to Change the World workshops shared their experiences and plans. We extend our gratitude once more to AAAL and to the OpEd Project, who sponsored the participation of those AAAL members in the workshop. We will share more updates as we hear from the participants regarding their learning and plans for future writing to change the world.
The PAEC also facilitates the creation and dissemination of the applied linguistics briefs: one-page texts on language-related topics of potential interest and importance written in language that would be accessible to people outside our field. Currently, there are three briefs at different stages of the review process, and we will share them as soon they are published. Visit the AAAL briefs webpage for more information, including access to the published briefs and instructions for authors.
How can you get involved?
AAAL members are welcome to get in touch with ideas for projects and initiatives of social concern. For example, you can propose briefs, position statements, or endorsements and work with other scholars/practitioners to create op-ed pieces, blog posts, social media outreach, or webinars relevant to the membership and the public at large. Please feel free to contact Bedrettin Yazan with your ideas.
Finally, we encourage AAAL members to join the applied linguistics and social justice listserv (340 AAAL members strong), an online collaborative space for sharing ideas, resources, publications, and initiatives focused on applied linguistics and social justice.
We look forward to working with you!