My name is Taylor Burden and I am the summer intern for Local Learning! I am a mother, worship leader, and graduate student pursuing my Master of Arts in Folk Studies at Western Kentucky University. My concentration is in Public Folklore where my research has been focused on creating educational programming that seeks to conserve deaf culture and promote the use of American Sign Language in local communities. When I was hired as the worship leader of a partially deaf congregation a year ago, I was introduced to the deaf and hard of hearing community. I quickly learned how English intrusion, hearing privilege, and other instances of discrimination had affected the deaf community and, ultimately, deaf culture. This discrimination informed my decision to pursue education and advocacy for these marginalized community members whose culture is consistently threatened by policy and privilege.
I am incredibly excited to intern with Local Learning to discover how to encourage individuals to engage with their own traditional culture, as well as the local culture of their community members. I hope that by working with Local Learning’s extensive resources and network of public agencies, non-profit organizations, schools, etc. I will be better equipped to work as a public folklorist tasked with navigating the waters of equity, advocacy, and public policy. I hope Local Learning’s commitment to establishing a folklore presence at the national and local level will assist me as I continue to learn about public folklore and work to apply these principals to my work with the deaf community.
Since my internship began, I have been updating Local Learning’s regional and national resources, as well as documenting creative response to current events, COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter in particular. In addition to continuing to document creative responses to current events as they occur, I will be assisting with the publication of The Journal of Folklore and Education Volume 7 and acting as an assistant for Local Learning’s professional development workshops. I am already fascinated by the work of Local Learning and I am beyond thrilled to work with them throughout the summer!