At the age of 14, while my friends were finding summer jobs to buy video games, I struck a deal with the rabbi’s Israeli wife to trade babysitting for Hebrew lessons. Out of this fateful bargain, the two dominating passions of my life took shape—one in the practice of world languages, and one in the academic study of religions.
The former has become my career. I took my undergraduate degrees in history and modern languages at the University of Alaska (2008 and 2009), with an emphasis in German and French. I tutored German at the university, became the first English translator of the expressionist poet Ernst Blass, and traveled to Rheinland-Pfalz. I then spent a year in Québec, helped to prepare a new French translation of the Gospel of Thomas, and gained my first introduction to teaching ESL while volunteering with a Canadian charity that helped to settle new immigrants. This led to three years teaching ESL online to students across Latin America, which in turn prompted me to learn Spanish and to travel in Argentina and Uruguay. Somewhere along the way, I also became an Esperantist and took an interest in efforts for the preservation of the Scots language. I now clarify world languages for other people’s children while confusing my own.
This has left the summers for my other enduring interest. I took my master’s degree in religious studies through Nations University (2013) with a thesis engaging issues of Old Testament translation. Since then, I have contributed my expertise to the Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions, the Religious Studies Project, and a variety of journals and conferences, in addition to interning for Feminism & Religion. Like Reza Aslan, I see religions, too, as languages—a part of the very human quest to give expression to our deepest experiences of being alive. When the last bell of the year rings, my current research interests revolve around the application of methods from interlinguistics to problems in comparative religion, interfaith dialogue, and transreligious theology.