By Huang Fanglei, Corey
Having been a helper and attendee at the international conference on ‘The Sociolinguistics of Globalization’, held at HKU from June 3-6, 2015, I was convinced that I was one of the luckiest new postgraduate students to be doing sociolinguistics research at HKU.
Back in early June, I was still a graduating MA student who had just finished the degree’s coursework at CUHK. At the same time, I was a new (incoming) PhD student who was lucky enough to be able to work in the Faculty of Education with Dr. Miguel Perez-Milans (primary supervisor) and in the School of English with Prof. Adam Jaworski (co-supervisor) at HKU. This wonderful supervisory team made it possible for me to be involved as a helper and attendee at this world-class conference on the ‘Sociolinguistics of Globalization’. This event was surely a highlight of my transition to a research postgraduate identity.
The very lively and dynamic nature of research and academic communication had not really been a part of my academic life until I participated in this conference. During my highly intensive MA study, research seemed to be primarily about lots of reading and writing. At this conference, however, I found that a great deal of effective research training could take place through inspiring dialogues or even heated debates among academics in the field. Personally, my favorite parts of the conference were the Q&A sections during the parallel sessions: to my surprise, I managed to learn so much from those fascinating presenter-audience interactions which are rare in the classroom. I even found it rewarding to just chat with the academics during the tea breaks, lunches and dinners. And I have to say that it was quite exciting for someone so new to academia to see the celebrities I had only read about “come to life” on stage, articulating their ideas and presenting interesting data. At that moment I felt like those days reading in the library were really worth it!
Networking with sociolinguists was, at that time, also a completely new thing to me. I found out that many well-known sociolinguists were actually very approachable people and that some of them even showed interest in my PhD research, which was still at the proposal stage. Gladly, during the conference I also ran into outstanding sociolinguists from CUHK like Dr. Carmen Lee and Dr. Selim Ben Said who ushered me into the field of sociolinguistics.
Being a postgraduate helper at this international conference was also a wonderful experience. We basically helped receive the conference attendees and moderate the parallel sessions. It felt pretty good when I was made aware of the fact that we were crucial in ensuring and even maximizing what the conference could offer its participants. As a new student who still had several months before officially starting, I had the privilege of getting to know staff and students at HKU who I would later work with. All the faculty members and the administrative staff at the School of English, and the student helpers from different departments and faculties, were very supportive, efficient and helpful throughout this grand event. This was probably one of the reasons why I felt so energized throughout the 4-day conference even though I had to arrive at around 8 a.m. every day after a one-hour train ride from the New Territories.
It was truly my great honor to play multiple roles in this conference: a facilitator, a moderator and a beneficiary. This would not have happened without all the wonderful people that I had the pleasure to know and work with during this fascinating event!