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Interview with Yogasai Gazula, JSIS student and Digital Humanities Day founder

April 1, 2021

Our graduate student assistant spoke with IAWW Scholar and South Asia FLAS Fellow Yogasai Gazula about her recent Digital Humanities Day event. Yogasai is an undergraduate in the Jackson School of International Studies with a focus on South Asia Studies. This spring, Gazula organized Digital Humanities Day with the support of the Husky Seed Fund, an award that brings to life innovative ideas from UW students.

SH: What compelled you to apply for the Husky Seed Fund and to orchestrate this event? 

YG: The idea for this event was inspired by my experiences conducting research in the humanities and social sciences. At the time I also kept seeing so many local and national articles about the decreased funding in the humanities and whether these subjects are even valuable today at all. My intention with Digital Humanities Day was to create a platform to discuss these topics, from the perspectives of UW students. This aligned with the vision of the Husky Seed Fund, which helps promote projects that are “inclusive, impactful, and innovative” for students across all UW campuses.

What did you hope people would take away from it, and what did organizing the event entail? 

My goal for the event was that students would gain new perspectives about the potential of the humanities for addressing different societal issues through an interdisciplinary lens. Based on the feedback from participants, students truly felt inspired and excited about exploring new opportunities for their future and thinking about how to go beyond traditional narratives about the humanities. Organizing the event entailed a lot of different activities – such as recruiting panelists, volunteers, and moderators, marketing and promotion, conducting the event itself, and getting feedback.

What did you learn from the process? 

I learned a lot from the process, such as being flexible and adapting plans quickly. For example, the event was initially supposed to be in-person, but transitioning it online brought various changes (ex. ensuring accessibility online) that I had not anticipated. However, while the final outcome was different from my initial plan, I was able to accomplish the same goals that I started out with.

Is there anything you would change about how it went (and do you expect to hold another Digital Humanities Day in the future)? 

There are always things that can be changed for the future, such as logistical details and reaching a broader audience. But overall, I am very happy with how it went. Events like this help bring us together as a community and allow us to learn from each other. Regarding a future Digital Humanities Day, who knows! 🙂 In the participant feedback, many students said they would like the event to be an annual tradition, so there is definitely an interest and need for these topics.