In January 2019, when one of the English 1101 courses I was supposed to teach was canceled because of low enrollment, Dr. Rebecca Burnett and Dr. Andy Frazee, the director and the assistant director of the Writing and Communication Program (WCP) at GA Tech, invited me to propose a project that I could complete during that semester that would roughly equate to the same number of hours I might spend teaching a class. They emphasized that the project should benefit the WCP and support my own professional objectives and interests.
The project I proposed involved developing a website called World Englishes: Linguistic Variety, Global Society, as a repository of resources and information for teachers of English language learner students. After nearly 200 hours of work over the course of a semester, that site became a reality. Among many other things, the site currently hosts RAMBLE, a literary magazine for students whose first language is a postcolonial variety of English, who speak English as a second or other language, or who come from bi- or multilingual homes and heritages.
When I assembled my initial proposal for Dr. Burnett, the idea of forming such a literary magazine was not going to be a key focus for my project. I did not feel I had adequate time to complete that component in just a semester. I wrote a single sentence about it at the bottom of my proposal and labeled it “Long-Term Goal.” Dr. Burnett challenged me on that point, asking me why I could not start developing the magazine right away. The groundwork for this project was then laid during following sixteen weeks, and now, a year later, in the spring of 2020, Issue 1 has appeared online. The cruelties of this season range from self-seclusion and rampant illness to natural disasters and national politics. Our situation, though bleak, is not hopeless. The pieces we are publishing in RAMBLE sufficiently prove that, at least to me.
Issue 1 features student-authored pieces that examine questions of identity, ethnicity, family, heritage, loss, and personal growth. The contributors themselves represent cultural backgrounds from China, Bangladesh, and Nigeria, among other places. Blended in a space they have imbued with new meaning, their voices are a unique symbol of the strength we derive from diversity. I would like to thank each of the contributors for risking rejection to allow us, the editors, the privilege of enjoying and displaying their creative work.
I would also like to thank Dr. Burnett and Dr. Frazee for helping me realize that this magazine, like so many of the projects we hold at arm’s length and declare unrealistic, could be a reality sooner than anyone might anticipate.
I would like to thank the Naugle CommLab administrators, including Dr. Brandy Blake and Dr. Aaron Colton, for the encouragement and advice I received on this project over the last year and a half. I am privileged to work with them and Dr. Karen Head in an environment that supports and nurtures English language learning students at Georgia Tech.
Finally, I thank the rest of the World Englishes Committee and the assistant editors for RAMBLE, Dr. Alok Amatya and Dr. Kendra Slayton. Alok is the one who first invited me to serve on the World Englishes Committee as a co-chair with him in 2018, and he has provided encouragement, camaraderie, and opportunities for collaboration ever since. Kendra, who will be moving into the role of editor of the World Englishes website in Fall 2020, has worked diligently with me to review and edit student submissions during this rather trying semester. Without them, and the other individuals I have mentioned, this magazine would not exist today. May this issue be the first of many.
April 16, 2020