WPNI ALUM'S PROJECT DRAWS ATTENTION TO ENDANGERED IRISH LANGUAGE
Anna Hoffman, a Kent State University global communication studies and political science major, as well as WPNI alum, traveled to Ireland this summer to study the country’s efforts to save its national language. Her research project was funded through a fellowship from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Hoffman was one of only 28 students nationwide to receive a fellowship for an international reporting assignment as part of the center’s Campus Consortium educational initiative.
In applying for a fellowship with the Pulitzer Center, students propose a project that involves an issue that is underreported by most news media. Hoffman’s proposal described a harsh disconnect in Ireland between the nation’s official language and those who speak it.
“While the Irish language may be the official language of Ireland, made so by the nation’s constitution, less than two percent of citizens say they speak the language daily (outside of school),” Hoffman wrote in her proposal. “From upper-middle-class parents sending their children to Irish-language schools to families who continue to speak it as the predominant language in their home, that small percentage of speakers will be responsible for giving a voice to a country that has all but let its national language vanish.”
Working as a student fellow with the Pulitzer Center allowed Hoffman to do more than just report on this issue. Instead, she says she made connections with the people affected by the problem and told the story from their perspective.
“Irish-language speakers are under immense pressure to keep an endangered language alive, and I wanted to tell their story,” Hoffman said. “Being able to report from Ireland on the threat the Irish language is under was an incredibly rewarding experience.”