After finishing her Master’s Degree in English Education, UPRM alumni Bianca Napoleoni continues to make great strides in research as she formed part of the The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities’ (HACU) National Internship Program and worked as a ‘Mapping and Visualization Intern’ at the Library of Congress (LC). In this program, she chose to develop two research tools: a story map and a research guide. The story map, “On Language and Colony: A Linguistic Trajectory of Puerto Rico’s Identity as the World’s Oldest Colony,” draws primarily from the Library’s digitally accessible content related to Puerto Rico and presents it through a perspective grounded in linguistic history and knowledge of colonial structures. The English Blog had the pleasure to interview Napoleoni in order to delve into her personal experience working in this project.

How did you come across this opportunity?

My good friend and recent M.A.E.E. graduate, Adriana E. Lebrón Larrache, had participated in a HACU internship with the LC previously to me and encouraged me to apply. I was so impressed with the work she had done in the Internships and Fellowships Program at the LC that I knew I wanted to pursue this opportunity and improve my professional skills. Once I looked into the amazing opportunities the HACU National Internship Program offered, I knew I wanted to partake in a professional growth of this kind.

How was your experience working as a Mapping and Visualization Intern at the Library of Congress?

My experience working as a Mapping and Visualizing intern for the LC was an incredibly enriching experience. With the state of the world right now due to a global pandemic, spaces for professional and academic growth are fairly limited, specifically internship opportunities. Having the opportunity to showcase my unique perspective and skills through a virtual internship with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) is an opportunity I do not take for granted. Even through a virtual space, working for the Hispanic Division of the LC allowed me to build connections, network, and expand my research interests and skills.

How did your Master’s Degree in English Education help you in the development of this project?

My time at the M.A.E.E. program provided me with the practical experience of conducting research which directly translated into my work at the LC. This includes designing a research topic or question, collecting data, analyzing data, and executing final insights. Even more, the courses taught in the program, such as Foundations of English Education, Bilingualism and Language Contact, and Current Approaches in Linguistic Theory, heavily influenced my desire to focus on the topic of language in Puerto Rico. The theoretical and practical knowledge gained at the M.A.E.E. program allowed me to create digital research tools highlighting the linguistic diversity of Puerto Rico by focusing on its colonial history. My time at the program challenged me to improve my research and writing skills which I have now enhanced with a visualization project published at the Library of Congress. I heavily encourage both undergraduate and graduate students to challenge themselves in their research activities both in and out of the program.

Could you tell us a little bit about your linguistic research? Why use story maps to convey this information?

As a Mapping and Visualizing intern for the Hispanic Division, I was tasked with a visualization project that involved two digital research tools: a Story Map and LibGuide. This project highlights the accessible Hispanic collections at the Library through an interactive format. Specifically, my published story map “On Language and Colony: A Linguistic Trajectory of Puerto Rico’s Identity as the World’s Oldest Colony” delves into the linguistic history of Puerto Rico through a colonial lens (On Language and Colony).  As an educator, I strive to find creative ways to engage and motivate students. Story Maps are meant to be digital narratives that combine text, interactive maps, multimedia content, and user experience to tell stories about the world. They can serve as effective research tools and educational resources that help expand on social and historical issues in an engaging and interactive manner. My hope is for this research tool to reach educational settings in Puerto Rico and elsewhere to engage a broad number of researchers and scholars who are interested in the topic, as well as higher education students.

What aspect of your research impacted you the most?

During this process, I was surprised at how much of Puerto Rico’s linguistic history I was privy to. I was impacted by the primary sources found at the LC that allow researchers and readers to immerse themselves in the political and social history of our island and gave me the space to learn so much about our language and its formation throughout time. What most impacted me about the work I did for the LC, was discovering for myself how culturally and linguistically rich Puerto Rico is.

What new skills were you able to learn during this process?

Through this project, I was able to enhance my research and writing skills. By consulting the LC online catalog for resources and collecting material for analysis and organization, I was able to expand my knowledge and abilities of the process and methodology of research. By creating an interactive research tool in a narrative form, I was able to delve into a new style of writing that also included multimedia and digitized content. My technical skills were developed through the use of basic html coding, knowledge of programming design, and content development.

What do you hope to accomplish with ‘On Language and Colony’?

My hope is that the story map reaches higher education classrooms and researchers interested in Puerto Rican language and history. The “On Language and Colony” story map can serve as an engaging and interactive tool for the classroom. It contains multimedia content including primary text, relevant imagery, audio recordings, and user experience to engage the user and enhance their research experience. With a simple click of a link, researchers, educators, and students can explore the vast resources related to Puerto Rico at the Library of Congress.

Make sure to check out Bianca’s most recent project on this topic: a research guide titled “Yo Soy (I am): The Historical Trajectory of Language in Puerto Rico.”