For several years, Michigan Humanities has been fortunate to partner with exceptional students from the University of Michigan’s Rackham Public Engagement Internship Program. As noted on the program website, these internships “provide resources for Rackham students to engage in opportunities to contribute to work at cultural, nonprofit, governmental, and educational organizations.”

In 2020, Michigan Humanities is working with two Rackham interns for the summer and fall on projects ranging from the Great Michigan Read, Action Grants, Community Conversations, and a convening of past Heritage Grant recipients. Crystal Zanders joined us over the summer, and Jennifer Sierra is beginning her fall internship this month.

Learn more about Crystal and Jennifer below through a peek at their professional background, and a brief Q&A about their current work, a recent read, and — our favorite summertime question — their preferred ice cream flavor.

 

Crystal Zanders: Summer 2020

Crystal Zanders is a poet, educator, activist, and public speaker from Tennessee. She received my M.A.T. in secondary education from Mississippi State University in 2010 while teaching in under served schools in the rural South. Crystal left secondary education to focus her own writing and earned an MFA in poetry from University of New Mexico in 2018. Currently, she is a Rackham Merit Fellow enrolled in the Joint Program in English and Education at the University of Michigan, and serves as a Writer-In-Residence for InsideOut Literary Arts in Detroit.

What are you studying and working on at the University of Michigan?
My research explores dialect, literacy, and educational inequity in writing classrooms.

What is a good book you’ve enjoyed recently?
The best book I’ve read this summer was probably come see about me, marvin by Brian G. Gilmore, a book of poetry that honored Michigan and taught me so much about my adopted state.

What is your favorite ice cream?
At Dairy Queen, they have these double-fudge cookie dough blizzards that are life changing. Order it with extra cookie dough. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Jennifer Sierra: Fall 2020

Jennifer Sierra received her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Linguistics from the University of Florida. During her time at the University of Florida, Jennifer participated in a study abroad program in Peru aimed at documenting seven different indigenous languages in the Peruvian Amazons. Following this internship, she participated in the documentation of an extinct indigenous language from Florida called Timucquan. These project experiences inspired her to pursue graduate school to develop a linguistic anthropological project in the Peruvian Amazons. In Jennifer’s current work in the Peruvian Amazons, she collaborates with a non-profit organization called ARIAP (Asociacion de Raices Indigenas Peruanas) as a grant writer.

What are you studying and working on at the University of Michigan?

I am a PhD Candidate in Linguistic Anthropology. My research examines how the participation in new technologies of communication such as social media has impacted the linguistic and overall communicative practices of Shipibo-Konibos—an indigenous Amazonian society. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I temporarily suspended my research abroad and instead I am focusing on conducting online research on Shipibo radio online streaming.

What is a good book you’ve enjoyed recently?

I just finished reading Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid. This book had me engaged right away and reminded me of my own experiences as a nanny when I had just moved to the States from my home town of Bogota, Colombia. It also helped my quick reading and engagement; I had just finished Infinite Jest which I had been reading for the past two years of my life.

What is your favorite ice cream?

I love any ice cream that is not pure chocolate ice cream; Oreo and coconut flavor could be my two ultimate favorites.

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