In addition to the individuals working on language revitalization projects in their home communities, Where Are Your Keys? (WAYK) has an international team of volunteers who offer their time and skills to intern in communities that are not their own, and/or provide online media coverage on community projects.
Evan Gardner, the original developer of WAYK, was born in Oregon City overlooking Willamette Falls. He grew up in and around the Clackamas, Molalla, and Willamette rivers and is now working all over North America!
Evan has worked extensively in education from early childhood to university. He has been teaching languages, including English, Spanish, American Sign Language (ASL), and Chinuk Wawa, for over 20 years. His earliest teaching experiences involved working in international education programs as well as in public schools throughout Oregon. He has spent the past decade facilitating international Where Are Your Keys? workshops, teaching language and community revitalization techniques to teachers and students, working with diverse indigenous and endangered languages, including Alutiiq (Kodiak, Alaska); hǝn̓q̓ǝmin̓ǝm̓ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation, British Columbia); Latin (West Virginia and throughout the United States); Chinuk Wawa (Oregon/Washington State); Northern Paiute (Warm Springs, Oregon); and Yurok (the Redwood Forest of Northern California).
Evan explains that one of his top goals in creating WAYK was to support and strengthen endangered languages by creating professional youth teachers who enter college with years of teaching experience.
David Edwards is a software developer in New York City; he likes to say that “you wouldn’t think software consulting and endangered language revitalization are similar fields, but it turns out they’re extremely close.” He’s pretty sure he got his job by using WAYK techniques to teach Mandarin Chinese to the interviewer. David’s love of language started in middle school. His mother is a Spanish teacher, and he decided to try his hand at language-constructing (“conlanging”). His interest in language grew, and as of today he can speak English, Chinuk Wawa, Mandarin, Spanish, ASL, and Latin. David found WAYK in college while struggling with back-to-back Japanese and Mandarin classes. Through WAYK, he found a passion for Native language revitalization and has worked on WAYK projects at the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs in Oregon, the Yurok Tribe in California, and Tsleil-Waututh Nation in Vancouver, as well as in Beijing and Shanghai. He is also the main developer for the WAYK website.
Susanna is an Irish-Italian from the suburbs of New York. She loves the Red Sox and only tolerates the Yankees. She has been teaching Latin at a small, independent school in Brooklyn, New York for seven years. Susanna learned Latin in middle school and went on to major in Classics in college. She attended a spoken-Latin immersion week, and by the end it she “was completely drinking the Kool-Aid [regarding the fact] that speaking Latin might actually be helpful in learning the language.” The following summer she met Evan at another Latin immersion week. Part of what made the week such a great experience was the safety net based on WAYK. She met David Edwards and started to trade Latin for Chinuk Wawa; it was her first experience learning a language without translating. Since her introduction to WAYK, Susanna has been attempting to integrate the system into the classroom as a new pedagogy.
Sky Hopinka is of the Hochunk Nation and Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians. He has been interning with Evan and “Where Are Your Keys?” since February, 2011, and learning Chinuk Wawa, which he will apply to his university foreign language requirement. Sky is graduating in the fall from Portland State University with a BA in English and minor in film studies. Currently, he is interning with the “Where Are Your Keys?” Summer Institute of Play through the Indigenous Nations Studies department (formerly Native American Studies) at PSU. After graduating, he plans to work in filmmaking and with WAYK in learning and teaching the Hochunk and Luiseno languages.
Joshua Higgenbotham currently teaches World Languages at Harding Charter Preparatory High School in Oklahoma City. He initially became interested in language while on a trip through Italy and Greece; his inability to decipher signs and written language while touring these countries prompted him to purse an education in language at the University of Oklahoma, where he earned a BA in both Classical Languages and Literature and Religious Studies. Joshua’s mother was a speech pathologist, and her work exposed him to elements of linguistics, IPA phonetic writing, and speech and language disorders early on in his life. His education in classical languages and German was presented in typical western fashion, meaning he learned about the languages and their structures rather than learning how to speak them. Upon being exposed to the WAYK program and Chinuk Wawa, Joshua learned to speak and understand a language without analyzing it: “I realized not every language has to pass through your first language to understand it. [WAYK] levels the playing field in a non-artificial way; how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ you supposedly are at language is completely irrelevant.” Joshua has taken many of the techniques he has learned from WAYK and applied them in the classroom with his own students: “It’s great to watch them teaching one another… With WAYK everybody who learns can also teach, and I think for language revitalization, that is an absolute requisite.” Joshua is currently working in Vancouver, B.C., teaching WAYK techniques as a “Language Teacher Maker” alongside Evan, David, Anders, and Susanna in the Tsleil-Waututh community.
Oakley Friedberg is from Brooklyn, New York. He has lived in Rome, London, and India. He learned English as a first language, and stopped studying Spanish after one year in high school. He decided to study Latin instead for its grammatical utility. His high school Latin teacher was Ms. Ciotti (Susanna). He asked Susanna to be his senior thesis advisor, and his project was on the subject of language acquisition and linguistics. Now a freshman at Brown University, Oakley studies literature and cognitive science. He believes that literature exposes the subjective/emotional qualities of the mind, while CogSci serves to examine the technical unconscious processes that are inherently rational, so a collective study would paint a fuller picture of the mind without disqualifying either of the two. Susanna introduced him to WAYK, and to Evan Gardner. Oakley has led WAYK circles, and used WAYK with Latin, Chinuk Wawa, and Hǝn̓q̓ǝmin̓ǝm̓.
Caylie is a jack of all trades, master of none, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Like Kay, Caylie mistook her love for grammar and rules for a love of literature, and began her education with an English degree. She followed that with a second undergrad in Native studies and anthropology, where she fell in love with nehiyawewin, the Cree language, while taking the program’s second-language requirement, and launched a project to develop levelled reading resources for early Cree readers. Despite a knack for understanding the grammar and doing well in all three years of the class, Caylie still “glitches out” when anyone speaks the language to her, and she cannot speak it back. This inability to functionally use the vocabulary and grammar she learned in class led her to WAYK. Caylie discovered WAYK through an indigenous language spreecast, and spent the next year trying to connect with Evan to try to bring WAYK to Edmonton. After failing to secure funding for a WAYK program there, she opted to go to where WAYK was instead, and accidentally stumbled into some private Chinuk Wawa lessons with Evan in Oregon over the course of 10 days. She joined the Tsleil-Waututh WAYK team for 10 days in late July and early August 2014, and now keeps busy trying to secure funds to bring WAYK to Edmonton, as well as managing WAYK’s blog and Twitter feeds.
Kristina (Kay) Kroger here! As part of WAYK’s media team, you’ll see me authoring blog posts, spreading the word on social media, and generally lurking about the website. I’m a fire-spinning, hedgehog-owning, poetry-writing cactus enthusiast and MA student at Northeastern Illinois University. Linguistics is the name of my game, though my undergraduate degree was in English. You see, I mistook my love of language for a love of English, and I spent a semester studying 19th century novelists before I realized my grave error. I then declared my linguistics minor and then (just for fun of it) learned American Sign Language and Tagalog. My past work with language revitalization consists of working with the Barbareno/Ventureno Band of Mission Indians to transcribe the notes of prolific (and dead) linguist John Peabody Harrington. The transcribed notes are being compiled into grammars and dictionaries in order to bring back Ventureno Chumash. The best part of the experience was becoming aware of when the Native informants were having a joke over on ol’ JPH by conjugating such sentences as “the bird defecated on me,” “they chased the wh**** out of town,” and “they would wipe themselves after sh****** with twig, with leaves, or whatever was handy.” Their humor comes alive through hundred-year-old notecards. On a more serious note, my academic background in linguistics has inspired me to commit my career to revitalizing North American languages. These languages not only have linguistic value, but cultural value and historic value as well. I hope in the future to intern with WAYK in the field. For now though, I am content to blog!
Hey there! My name is Christina and I am newly appointed to the WAYK journalism/media team. I will be working with Kay and Caylie on blogging, interviews, and other WAYK projects. I am currently a student at Southern Oregon University and am pursuing a second bachelors in Anthropology—my first having been attained at Washington State University in Humanities. I was fortunate to grow up in the beautiful San Juan Islands of Washington State, and though I consider these islands home, I have lived all up and down the west coast, including parts of Alaska, Oregon, and California. I love animals, coffee, good books, hiking, and the sound of wind blowing through the trees (though not necessarily in that order). I became interested in language revitalization in the fall of 2013 when I learned that my heritage community in Alaska was working with Evan to revitalize our language: Unangam Tunuu. My investigation into the issues revolving around language revitalization became my senior practicum and capstone projects at school, and I continue to be fascinated with indigenous history, struggles, identity issues, and cultural reclamation efforts. I am currently finishing up my degree with a minor in Native American Studies, and hope to pursue my interests further in a graduate program next year.
Jenni is a WAYK player who is living in Israel and learning Hebrew.
A linguist resident in Turkey, Joel discovered Where Are Your Keys? purely by accident and was immediately impressed by its common-sensical approach to language learning. After so many observations made, misconceptions identified and pitfalls avoided through years of toil and tears, it was as if all this understanding had been distilled into a natural, dynamic, and effective method. The necessities of language revitalisation had been the mother of invention, turning the classroom dynamic upside down to put the student back in the driving seat.
Although it’s still early days, he already has a dedicated group of British ex-pats using the method to learn Turkish. No matter where you are in the world, you can join him on his journey by following his blog at fethiyewayk.blogspot.com. His ambition is to build up a well-rounded language course to give frustrated language learners a roller-coaster ride to fluency. As far as he is concerned, there is no doubt WAYK has the zest to beat the rest.