BILD-ing over ten years: what it has meant to the builders (by 17 bloggers)

Welcome to a new academic year from BILD and to our move to biweekly rather than weekly posting. As we move into our tenth consecutive year of collective blogging—soon to be celebrated in anniversary posts—we thought we’d start out with a collaborative post, and asked our members and guest bloggers to reflect on what BILD has meant to them (click on each author’s name to be taken to their posts). I will step back and let our bloggers speak to readers directly—that’s me, Mela Sarkar, speaking, on the team behind the scenes, shucking the editorial we. Here they are, in alphabetical order by first name, in sync with our Regular and Affiliate Members pages, creating a satisfying mix of guest bloggers and BILD members old and new. My heart’s overflowing! As the most recent author to join us says below, “This blog reminds me of home.”

Alison Crump speaks:

Congratulations to the many BILD authors, mentors, and organizers on a decade of blogging! The 8 or 10 of us who were grad students in 2013, when the BILD research group formed under Mela’s guidance, thought we’d do a book club together and discuss our respective research projects. After a short time, we thought that perhaps there was a bigger community out there to connect with. We created a blog, one that would run on the basis of collaborative peer mentorship between blog authors and members of BILD supporting authors to develop their work. We wondered if we’d find an audience. We did! The BILD blog has developed an international readership and forged many connections through the risk-taking and vulnerability that authors show as they grapple with complex theories in ways that can speak to broad audiences. Imagine what another 10 years could bring!

Andrea Sterzuk speaks:

Ten years! Over the last decade, I’ve written for BILD as a guest blogger but what I most appreciate is the platform it has provided to the graduate and undergraduate students I supervise. Writing a guest blog post for BILD has been a good way for these students to workshop a new idea or showcase something they’re working on that may not find its way into their theses. The BILD team provides kind and supportive mentorship to new researchers in a way that is not always easy to find in academia.

April Passi speaks:

Back in 2015, I co-wrote my first BILD blog post with Alison after taking her sociolinguistics course and then attending a conference together. The mentorship I have received—and continue to receive—from BILD members has challenged my thinking, encouraged me to grow, and scaffolded the development of my academic skills and identity. I remember being so nervous when I published my first solo blog post as a new doctoral student…but I was able to conquer my fears and start believing in myself as a writer because of the supportive environment. BILD is a space of equal parts care and critical thought, one which will continue to transform academia. 

Beatrice Cale speaks:

Happy 10th Birthday BILD! It represents the best combination of playtime and serious thought. We use theory, we challenge assumptions and we have a creative platform for that complex thing called sociolinguistics.

Caroline Dault speaks:

I remember very well the day Rhonda Chung invited me to join BILD—she told me I could write about practically anything! As someone who typically thrives within the reassuring framework of more conventional essays, I didn’t know what to do with all this liberty (and still don’t, most of the time). Writing for BILD is forcing me (and probably many others) out of my comfort zone, and that’s what makes it unique and so important!

Dairn Alexandre speaks:

As a fairly new contributor to the BILD family, the opportunity to share my ideas on a larger platform has been such a humbling and exciting opportunity. This work has only been possible through the mentorship and support I have received from the various editors and contributors that I have worked with. Ultimately, to see the wealth of ideas contributed week after week and know that I am now a part of these broader conversations in a small way has been an honour and a pleasure. While I at times feel that I am suffering from imposter syndrome and wonder if I have anything worthwhile to contribute, Sunny and Mela have encouraged me to find my voice, pushing me to write better and more succinctly. And for that, I am grateful.

Heather Phipps speaks:

BILD is a dynamic, inclusive, multilingual, creative space for sharing stories and ideas. It has been a joy and delight to be part of this research community since the beginning. I had the good fortune of being a graduate student in Montreal when the group was initially formed, and recall our meetings in the McGill Faculty of Education. It was exciting to be a part of something new along with others who shared an interest in languages. Over the years, I am honoured to remain connected to BILD, particularly through the blog, since moving to teach in a university in another Canadian province. My graduate students have also enjoyed participating as guest bloggers. Most recently, I was happy to continue reading the blog while on a sabbatical year in Europe. I enjoy reading the diversity of voices and perspectives. Congratulations and bravo to all for such thought-provoking contributions! Bonne continuation!

Janan Chan speaks:

My mom, a BILDer, introduced me to the BILD-LIDA community while I was teaching English in Shanghai, China. I had completed my MA English Literature and Creative Writing in Montréal, and now in Shanghai, I felt I was missing the intellectual challenge I yearned for, since the teaching community still holds on to a “deficit-mindset” and exchange of ideas can also be restricted. BILD-LIDA was then like fresh air for me, as I read about queerness and the importance of identity, language preservation, and sociolinguistics, among other themes. I felt less alone knowing and remembering that the place I had left, Canada, was freer and accepting of diverse thinking and ideas. This blog reminds me of home. Happy 10th birthday, BILD-LIDA! I hope you will continue being a place for people to critically and creatively express their ideas, reflections and feelings.

Jennifer Burton speaks:

I wrote my first guest post, [De]Institutionalizing English, in 2015 as a Master’s student—the first writing on the topic of language that I had published. I remember the excitement from the BILD community for sharing my spoken word poem publicly and my nervousness when the post went public. Almost a decade later, I write regularly as an Affiliate Member. BILD has provided me with a space to write informally and personally, as well as share ideas that I’m still thinking through. It’s the supportive and caring community created by the members, contributors, and visitors of BILD that I appreciate the most. What an honour to witness its growth and transformation!

John Wayne N. dela Cruz speaks:

I first blogged for BILD in 2018, my very first semester in graduate school (MA program in Applied Linguistics). Given that stage of my graduate studies, I had many questions, doubts, curiosities, and anxieties about what language research is, how to do it, and most importantly, why do it at all. The blog posts allowed me to ask critical questions, share personal reflections, and explore my academic creativity that have shaped the research questions, methodologies, and praxis that I engage with now as a PhD candidate, language teacher, and teacher trainer! And it’s all thanks to the wonderful community and space that BILD has provided, which has helped humanize—in my experience—not only academia, but the field of applied linguistics.

Mehdi Babaei speaks:

BILD stands as a true exemplar of a community of practice. My journey with BILD began in 2013 at a gathering that brought together individuals with a common interest in sociolinguistic matters. From our meetings, where I participated in discussions with fellow enthusiasts, to our collaborative blog writing, conference attendance, and social gatherings, BILD has provided opportunities for exploration, learning, and personal growth. It has allowed me to engage in meaningful dialogues—a truly magical and emotionally fulfilling experience that extends beyond the boundaries of academia and formal activities. One particular aspect that I greatly cherished was our discussions centered around selected readings as part of our reading club, which I had the pleasure of running for several years. BILD, to me, lives up to its name—I felt a profound sense of belonging. It helped me construct and define my academic identity and facilitated conversations on language and diversity.

Paul Meighan-Chiblow speaks:

Congratulations, BILD! I am grateful to be an active member of this critical sociolinguistics group since the very beginning of my doctoral journey in 2019, with Mela as my co-supervisor, and my first blog post, Refusing to inHABIT the binary. Since then, BILD has enabled me to further reflect on more equitable language education—such as proposing the potential of Transepistemic language education—and to track muda, experiences, challenges, and tensions in my Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic) reclamation journey, as in Reflections of a Gael in a Foreign Language and Languages do not “die”. BILD, as the acronym suggests, is a wonderful forum to explore the complexities of Belonging, Identity, Language, and Diversity. It’s an honour to be part of it! Thank you all and here’s to many more years to come!

Rhonda Chung speaks:

BILD is a place of conversation. In fact, my participation started with a conversation in a student lounge. It was 2017, and I had completed a very psycholinguistic MA at Concordia, but was yearning to discuss the social dimensions of language use—as any Anglo in Quebec can’t help but do! Alison suggested that I join BILD, and the sociolinguistic conversations have only gotten deeper since. As a co-editor for guest posts, I have had the great fortune to learn from other researchers, teacher trainers, instructors, and artists from across the globe about the different ways that belonging, identity, language, and diversity touch their lives. More personally, BILD has consistently provided me and my child with a space to reflect, explore, and hone our ideas about our evolving relationship with our mixed identity and our own sense of belonging to the diverse languages and cultures that ribbon through the landscape.

Ron Darvin speaks:

When the Journal of Sociolinguistics asked me to do a “book review” of BILD in 2018, what I said then still rings true. The greatest gift of this community is it provides a space that transcends the boundaries of genres and languages, and enables us to share our ideas and stories, regardless of where we are in our academic journey. BILD lets us claim the right to speak with a voice not usually heard in our journals and books: one that is spoken in many languages and that springs not only from our mind but from our heart of hearts.

Sumanthra Govender speaks:

In 2013, a few of us had an idea to organise a community that centred on our questions, views, and ideas about socio-cultural perspectives in language education, and lived experiences. We recognised that this was a voice that was missing in the academic community. We knew our group would focus on issues about identity, language, and diversity and how these elements were manifested in the idea of belonging. We wanted to give people the opportunity to offer a picture (in German, ein Bild) of what belonging, identity, language, and diversity can look like in different spaces. In ten years, BILD has achieved so much. Our community has grown, and the picture has shown many different shades and hues of what belonging, identity, language, diversity looks like. Congratulations BILD/LIDA. I’m so proud to be a BILDer, and I look forward to seeing how the picture evolves in the next ten years.

Sunny Lau speaks:

When I first came to know about BILD, I immediately felt at home – I’d found my place and my people! As an academic, I have learned to talk and write in a certain way and very soon I found my words losing their strength because “scientific” writing often demands a certain form of “objective” detachment and analysis; there is little room for emotions and creative expression. BILD provides a much-needed platform for researchers and educators to share their words and voices in their fullness, with tears and joy, capturing the pulsating rhythm of how we navigate both our personal and professional selves and negotiate a sense of belonging and identity within the multilingual and multicultural worlds. I’m honoured and grateful to be part of this family and I look forward to its 20th and 30th anniversary!

“You are moving on a crowded street
Through various shades of people… A story in your eye; 
Well, speak until your mind’s at ease.
Ten years come and gone so fast”
(Paul Simon, Ten Years)

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