Name: Jasmine “Jaz” Graf
Location of Study: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Program of Study: AUA Language Center
Sponsors: Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures and Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies
Blog URL: http://sites.nd.edu/sla2017/author/jasmine-graf-20nd-edu/
A brief personal bio:
I’m Jaz Graf, an artist and curator currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Printmaking at the University of Notre Dame. For several years I worked with nonprofit organizations, utilizing the arts as a catalyst to raise awareness of environmental issues. In 2014, I traveled on assignment to Thailand and Laos to document the main stem of the Mekong River. I’m interested in connecting to my ancestral heritage and learning more about Thai traditions. My long-term goal is to establish an international exchange program between the U.S. and Thailand, promoting multidisciplinary discourse, spanning arts, culture and language.
Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:
Language is an essential part of understanding my cultural identity. I’ve practiced Thai in the classroom, but I’m eager to know if natives actually understand me! I’m so excited to immerse myself in the local scene and get to know the arts community. The opportunity to study Thai in Chiang Mai will give me a real taste of what it is like to live in Thailand, as I anticipate moving there following my graduate studies. Reaching Thai fluency will enrich my engagement with local communities and enhance my worldwide reach as an arts professional.
What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:
When I travel my senses are heightened. I become more receptive to my surroundings. New perspectives will form and influence the trajectory of my work. I hope to discover and to forge my genuine Thai persona through deeper understanding of the country’s language and customs. I intend to foster meaningful interactions and initiate lasting relations that will extend beyond my summer trip. I want to feel comfortable with the tempo of the Thai lifestyle. I want to pass, blend in, feel like an insider. If I can do that, even just a little, that will be the authentic experience I am seeking.
My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:
1. By the end of the summer, I will be able to develop an “ear” for Thai, that is, to pick up the subtle variations of the tonal range with ease.
2. By the end of the summer, I will gain familiarity with the Thai script. I will have a firmer grasp of Thai characters and their corresponding sounds. Improving my reading proficiency will build on listening and speaking skills.
3. By the end of the summer, I will be able to engage in Thai discussion with natives on topics such as popular culture, current affairs, the environment and social issues.
4. By the end of the summer, I will have practiced so much that I will be less conscious of translating Thai to English in my head. My understanding will become more automatic and fluid.
5. By the end of the summer I will be a good bargainer at the local markets!
My plan for maximizing my international language learning experience: