Name: Rhea Lim
Class Year: 2024
Hometown: Singapore, Singapore
Internship Organization: Blossom
Job Title: Applied Linguistics Intern
Location: Remote, NY
What's happening at your internship? We would love to hear what kind of work you are doing!
This summer, I'm helping a tech startup called Blossom to develop bilingual children's books! It’s a super cool project that I was pleasantly surprised to see being developed since I feel like a lot of people who have the means and the money for startups don’t really care about bilingualism and education through multilingualism, but here it is! Blossom books are based on the translanguaging model! Which is a fancy way to describe multiple languages that are interwoven into a single sentence (trans — meaning “to cross”, so “moving across languages"), or a piece of dialogue, like a lot of multilingual speakers do in their everyday life! For example, my Filipino friend’s favourite sentence starter is “pero (but) like [...]" and its such a natural utterance that they don’t really think twice about it. The product already has a great deal of Spanish integration, so I am focusing on the Mandarin side, translating and figuring out the specifics of integration into a language that has a significantly farther relationship from English than Spanish does. This includes establishing canon Mandarin names for places and people and figuring out which method of translation would flow best with the audience and the aims of the company, as well as heading the implementation of pinyin into the currently existing, and future, Mandarin-English books for heritage speakers of the language. I’m also doing some research and looking into developing language learning questions and how to evaluate a product’s effectiveness at teaching (the product is currently being developed for STEM learning and not language learning yet!).
Why did you apply for this internship?
I’ve been really interested in translanguaging and multilingual education since I was young, but opportunities to work with it in this internship didn’t come until I took a class with Kate Riestenberg, who taught Multilingualism and Second Language Acquisition at Haverford, and really laser focused my interest. And the spring semester after I took that class, Kate sent out an email about internship applications for Blossom since she is very cool and is the director of content and pedagogy there.
Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?
I think one of the greatest skills I'm learning is how to work around everyone in a tech startup, as compared to a more established office scene. Everything is still being built, and there is so much focus on creating new content for a fuller product that so much of it, and us, get lost in the sauce of what could be. Even now, I'm not strictly working on Blossom; I’m also dipping my toes into Canopy 360 which is another tech startup under the mother company Transcendent Endeavours. It aims to close the gap in the quality of healthcare between native English speakers and patients with limited English proficiency by providing a learning and training program to invest in multilingual medical staff and improve language access (also extremely cool and very important in tandem with efforts to diminish medical racism).
What is most rewarding about your internship?
Being able to combine all my skills and life experience and pour it into a project that means so much to me, while also being financially supported by the school is just an experience that i’m super grateful for, and I want to be able to continue using my experience to help my community and so many other language communities. Whenever people ask me what I want to do with a linguistics degree, I never have a fully hashed out answer because like, what do you do with a linguistics degree? But this internship has definitely given me a good idea of areas that could make good use of what I'm learning and how to actually utilise my skills in an employable manner post-graduation. And hopefully, maybe, I’ll be able to stay on with Blossom full time!
Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.