This was too quick for me. We were sticking words and images onto backgrounds, and I wanted my words to hold their space long enough to question such socio-political path dependency, however correct the overall trajectory may be within our current political climate.
From my perspective, much of the problem with internationalisation as a strategic initiative within contemporary Higher Education stems from the short-cut that is repeatedly taken between ‘being international’ and ‘being Anglophone’. I wanted a snow globe that helped the words spoken by a global community be seen in all their difference, before the message they are designed to communicate takes over. Here, then, several years later, is my research question: If you can catch the words different people speak as they form, engage properly with the look and the feel of them, can you open up a space for different messages to be heard?
The city of Galway is home to speakers of over 60 different languages in addition to Irish and English, and the University is one of the driving forces behind this linguistic diversity. Yet we cannot see it. To interact with us, students suppress the other languages in their background. Both the academic structures and to a degree even the physical buildings necessarily place you in a position of disadvantage if you are not entirely sure of your word order, speak with a halting diction, or struggle to navigate your way through virtual and physical infrastructures that are configured for the experience of those born into the ‘right’ register, dialect, language.
The beauty of a snow globe is that it changes. In the traditional toy, the snow falling creates a magical scene of transformation. If I can bring about one change for the College of Arts, Social Sciences & Celtic Studies under my tenure as Executive Dean, then it is this: that we will become better at seeing the many different languages around us and that anyone who shares this space for a time, whether student or staff member and whether from Ireland or abroad, literally sees themselves changed as a result. Being at NUI Galway means you learn to see something about the rest of the world that you couldn’t see before. It doesn’t mean you become fluent in forty tongues, but it does mean you question your own.