As a boy growing up in Pennsylvania, Dr. Josh Brown loved to listen to his grandmother visit with her sister in their native language, Pennsylvania Dutch. While he was fascinated by the language, he also was intrigued that his grandmother never taught her daughter — his mother — the language. He carried with him to college an interest in languages and a curiosity about the social and cultural reasons people give up their native language even when it is closely tied to their identity. His studies and research in graduate school brought him in contact with the Mennonite and Amish communities in Pennsylvania, whose native language also is Pennsylvania Dutch. Now an assistant professor of German at UW-Eau Claire, Dr. Brown has immersed himself in the Amish and Mennonite communities in Wisconsin. He uses his language skills and understanding of the Amish and Mennonite cultures to serve as a liaison between the communities and the organizations that interact with them for a variety of reasons. Health departments and courts are among the agencies he's coached as they work with the communities on issues ranging from immunizations to smoke detectors and building permits. He teaches a class about Amish culture that's become popular with Wisconsin nurses and other health care providers who want to better interact with their Amish patients. Through his work as a linguist AND liaison, Dr. Josh Brown is educating about diversity and enhancing the lives of his students and his neighbors, and that's pretty powerful.
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- Josh Brown
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