2020-2021 Diversity Sub-Committee

Miriam Akoto

Miriam is a Ph.D. student in Applied Linguistics at Texas A&M University-Commerce. She is originally from Ghana but her experiences in many francophone countries in West Africa instilled in her an interest in cross-linguistic and cross-cultural communication. Her research interests are centered on second/foreign language writing and computer-assisted language learning. She is particularly interested in computer-mediated communication/interaction, collaborative writing, multimodality and digital writing pedagogy. Her dissertation research investigates the multimodal composing processes in web-based collaborative writing in the French as a FL context. As a GSC Diversity Sub-Committee member, Miriam is excited to serve with a team that advocates for diversity, acceptance and growth for graduate students at the AAAL conference. She can be reached at Miriam.Akoto@tamuc.edu

Jihan Ayesh

Jihan Ayesh is a Ph.D. student from Palestine in the Teaching and Curriculum program at the Warner School of Education, University of Rochester, NY. She has a BA degree in English Language and Literature from Bethlehem University, West Bank, and an MA degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Second Language (TESOL) from Nazareth College, NY. Jihan has been working as an English Language Teacher for diverse school and college-level students in Palestine and the United States. She also works as a Writing Consultant. Inspired by her passion for reading, Jihan volunteers in a reading program for at-risk children for reading difficulties in Rochester, NY. Her research interest is literacy and reading engagement for young English language learners, with a focus on the ones from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Ming-Tso Chien

Ming-Tso is a Ph.D. student in the Literacy Education program at the University of Maine. His dissertation research seeks to understand the experiences of Chinese transnational adolescents within the context of communities of practice in an American high school. Specifically, he explores their experiences of interacting with others in the communities of practice. He also researches how those interactions influence their understanding of personal identities and communicative competences. His overall research interests are centered around topics such as (im)migration, transnationalism, as well as the intersection of language, race, and citizenship. Initially, Ming-Tso came to the U.S. as a Fulbright FLTA and taught Chinese for a year at the University of Maine. Prior to arriving in the U.S., he worked as a public high school teacher in Taiwan. This year, Ming-Tso has joined AAAL’s diversity sub-committee. He hopes to help create a more inclusive and equitable experience for those attending the conference. He can be reached at ming.chien@maine.edu

Sarvanaz Balali

Sarvenaz Balali is a Ph.D. candidate in English at Texas A&M University-Commerce specializing in applied linguistics. Sarvenaz holds a master’s degree in linguistics and a Bachelor of Arts in English translation. She has presented in a few local and international conferences. She has also published a brief essay titled “Diversity in Terms of Complexity Theory” in the AAALGrads newsletter. Sarvenaz’s current research focuses on socio-cultural aspects of language learning with a specific focus on “cultural discontinuity”. However, her research interests span a wider range of topics. And, she wishes to develop her current research to explore various aspects of cultural diversity as well as how it may contribute to the process of learning a second language.