Mira joined the INCLUDAS team as the Summer 2023 Education Intern. We are so excited to have her with us!
What’s your favorite thing about yourself?
I’m very curious and very ambitious, I would say. Last year, I studied abroad in France, and it was an amazing experience and everything, but I didn’t know any French going into it. So I went to live with a host family and took all my classes in French without any French knowledge. But I wanted to take that opportunity to learn a new language. It was really hard at first, but I was able to learn so much and have such a wonderful experience.
What’s the most significant thing that’s influenced you as a person?
I would say the most significant thing that’s influenced me as a person is the education I’ve gotten. I was lucky that I was very interested in books and reading at a young age. I had teachers throughout high school who pushed me and inspired my passion for learning. I wouldn’t have that passion if my teachers didn’t have that same passion for their job. I had professors who encouraged me to study abroad and care more about my own work; it was my teachers who advised me to switch to studying literature my sophomore year. I’m very grateful for that.
What makes you proud of yourself, and what are your aspirations?
My greatest accomplishment was definitely my year studying abroad. I recently got the results of my DELF exam, which shows what level you are in terms of knowing the language. Not only did I pass at a level where I could become a citizen, but I could also attend university there as well. I was really proud of myself after accomplishing everything from that year, and it proves that I can be independent in another country and in general, which is really important to me.
I would love to do something relating to languages and literature. I have three main dreams right now: going to grad school for comparative literature and continuing studying languages to become a professor or a high school English teacher; working in publishing, particularly at a smaller company; and maybe opening my own bookstore and café one day. Overall, working with books and education is the goal.
Why are you interested in working in publishing?
I was reading this theory about how books can either be a mirror, a window, or a screen door that reflects an identity that the reader might not have seen otherwise. We can see other people’s lives and see how we’re not that different. We can go and join these worlds that we are not part of ourselves, and I think that’s really beautiful.
I would love to be involved in publishing because when I started studying comparative literature at my university, I realized how few works I had read that were translations. I don’t think there’s a lot of world literature involved in many reading lists, and we’re missing out on so much when we are not willing to use closed captions or willing to look at writing from places around the world with different backgrounds and cultures from us. My dream would be to work with publishers that focus on getting translated works from around the world and making them more accessible to public school classrooms.
Why is disability diversity in stories important to you?
Before INCLUDAS, I didn’t think much about disability inclusion. I had been mainly taught to focus on other types of diversity inclusion involving other cultures and languages. INCLUDAS opened a whole new door for me. It showed me where my biases are, and I’ve already learned so much about the barriers blocking entry for disabled authors in the publishing industry in the time I’ve been here. I feel so grateful for all the knowledge I’ve gained that expands my understanding of things. Learning all of this made me more passionate about helping, especially in regard to education and incorporating more disabled stories into early education classrooms for better representation.
Intersectionality is also important; for example, a lot of publishers will publish a book with a character with autism, but the character is also a cis, straight man with a specialty for science. There’s this big idea that characters have to be relatable for people to want to read about them, and the more you add to a character, the more complicated they get. I’d like to see more intersectionality in general, but not where the identity is the sole purpose of the story.
What’s your role at INCLUDAS, and what’s been the most fulfilling part about being on the INCLUDAS team?
I’m working in education outreach, and to assist with the next book party, I’ve been helping come up with activities that are accessible to all different types of kids. I’m very passionate about education, and I’ve been doing a lot of research on disabled children and the incorporation of disability representation in the classroom. I’ve already learned so much from the process and so much in general from the other members of the team.
Any advice for those wanting to work in the publishing industry?
Read as much as you can! Go to your small, independent bookstores and consume new stories. Even watching movies and TV shows or experimenting with different genres and translations to expand your horizons.