At the end of November, I was invited by University Leipzig to attend the first Academic Alumni Forum, the Digitalization of Research, in Germany. As one of the Alumni, I presented my research project “Multiculturalism in the German Football World” on the second day of the conference. This project was the final product from last year when I worked as a CHI fellow. This website project aims at further illuminating the recent heated debates over “multiculturalism” in contemporary German society through the lens of football. I examine the perception of the concept “multiculturalism” on both national and regional levels. 

The presentation itself was successful and I have received positive feedback from other scholars within- and outside of my field. More importantly, through this conference, I was lucky enough to schedule a meeting with one of the professors who works in the computational humanities department at University Leipzig. During the Skype meeting, we will discuss the possibilities of me conducting my research through Uni Leipzig in 2021 (my fifth year.) At this moment, I simply want to show my gratitude to CHI because none of this could have happened if I was not part of this group.

I still remember the first time I heard about the concept “digital humanities” in November 2016. I was invited by the German Program at MSU to attend their colloquium where Professor Handelman gave a short presentation on DH to the other graduate students and faculties. I was initially intimidated by this new (at least to me) concept and I said I would never want to work with this subject. After becoming a graduate student in the German program, I was introduced to DH again in the winter of 2017 where I needed to create a digital project for one graduate course. With the help of other people, I was able to come up with a WordPress webpage. This project also made me realize how much fun I could have with designing my own research project. During the Global Digital Humanities Symposium in March 2018, I first talked to Ethan and asked him whether I could apply to become a CHI fellow. Until now, I have been to multiple DH events, such as the Digital Humanities Summer Institute, Digital Humanities 2019, European Summer University, etc. Through all the summer schools and conferences, I am constantly shaping my research ideas with all the new information I am exposed to. Listening to other people’s presentations helps me to view my own project from a different perspective. Workshops provide me the opportunity to acquire fundamental knowledge and skillsets on various tools that I was not previously aware of. 

Although not all topics presented are completely related to my own research interests, I consider all the learning opportunities as necessary steps that lead me to my own research questions and methodologies. Being part of the DH community allows me to learn and to keep myself up to date and also adjust my standpoint in my research field. I think this is essential for young researchers at the early stage of their academic career. For example, I used to think that I want to work with text analysis. However, after taking a class for two weeks on assigning parts of speech and lemmatizing, I realized that this methodology does not interest me. Now I am shifting my focus to topic modeling and I am looking forward to seeing how things go!

After spending so much time narrating my story with DH, I simply want to say, none of this would have happened if I was not part of the CHI group. CHI provides me a platform to learn digital skills and also put the skills into practice through both group and individual projects. Although there is still huge room for me to improve the project, I was invited to present at an international conference, where I was able to network, and potentially find myself a place to do my research and further collaboration. 

As a returning fellow for this year, I am also looking forward to improving my skills of using digital tools, finding appropriate research methods, and learning more from my fellows!