Transcribing a Summer – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Transcribing a Summer

Those who believe that the HWS campus is quiet and empty after Commencement would be surprised to learn of the many internships and jobs available on campus every summer. Of the 100 or so students currently taking advantage of these opportunities is Ashley Yang ’11, who is working for Assistant Professors Matthew Kadane and Lisa Yoshikawa of the history department, and Assistant Professor Khuram Hussain of the education department.

She has been transcribing the subtitles of an animated and musical World War II propaganda film from Japan for Yoshikawa. She describes it as very much like a Disney film, suited to children ages 5 to 9. Yang explains that studying such films is very important, “because it helps us understand a more personal element of the past, and relate to it. The film enables me to understand how propaganda and history impact people and people’s lives, and to understand what life in wartime is like, particularly from the viewpoint of those whose stories are not always told in American classrooms.”

One of her favorite projects is transcribing a 1755 diary for Kadane. “The volume is from May to September of 1755, but has no name. I assume it’s male, because literacy among women in the 18th century is very rare,” she explains. Transcribing the diary requires understanding of old English and is further complicated by the need to read handwriting and spelling styles that are very different from today.  “The meaning of many words has changed and the spellings too.”

Yang is a major in history with a concentration in European studies and is part of the teaching and education program at HWS. She plans to become a social studies teacher and notes that this work helps her better understand how to teach history by relating it more directly to people’s experiences.

 “This diary allows me to touch history directly and see a personal part of it that makes it much more real and interesting. It helps to understand that people had personal lives in history and that we can learn from them. Seeing history firsthand makes it real.”

Later this summer, Yang will assist Hussain by taking notes and transcribing oral history interviews that will help him with his research on education reforms in the 1960s.

She is also working on an independent study in which she examines cross-cultural systems of education and the major issues and foundations of those systems. She focuses on comparing the educational systems of countries such as the U.S. and Canada, Germany and Japan. Yang expects her research on the benefits and drawbacks of various systems of education to help her decide on her pedagogy.

“I am doing several projects working from the ascending levels of comprehension on Bloom’s Taxonomy (to make it more applicable to my education minor) which include creating newsletters on Publisher describing major issues and controversies; visual displays depicting modes of assessment; and formal papers discussing how the differences between these systems of education (i.e., nationalized curriculum/textbooks, respect for the teaching profession, length of school day/year) affect the teaching of social studies.”

During the academic year, Yang is involved in Koshare, the dance collective on campus, and is a member of the student club Active Minds which raises awareness about mental illnesses and diseases.