Devin Flanigan Blankenship (Deibhin Ó Flannagáin) YOU INSPIRE ME! Devin inspires my creativity and desire to connect more closely to my culture because of his imaginative and humorous use of “stick figures” to teach English and his love for his Irish heritage. While coaching in professional development program for international educators in 2011, I was taken in by Devin’s contagious smile and genuine spirit. Today, Devin is an ESL Instructor at Internexus Indiana- UIndy Campus and self identifies as the “Idea Guy”. As a former ESL instructor, I know how difficult it can be to convey certain terms or concepts to students learning English. Devin has developed “Making English Stick”, a great collection of stick figures he uses to teach English (see images). He shares these with his network on Facebook, and they inspire me to think simple and when all else fails, use humor. They are also a reminder to not overcomplicate things, sometimes the best explanation is the simplest one.
Like many Americans, Devin’s family left Ireland in the 1800s to come to the United States. Unlike most, Devin has a passion for the Irish culture and language. After visiting Ireland several times, Devin’s “fire was fueled” and he located a network of Irish speakers and learners in the American Midwest. He has been building a community of Irish language speakers locally ever since and has been hosting an Irish language immersion event in his hometown of Bloomington, Indiana for the last 5 years. He has participated in two Irish language summer programs in An Cheathrú Rua in western County Galway, Ireland and continues to be energized by the Irish language enthusiasts who have a passion for the language and its speakers.
I was fortunate enough to visit Ireland for the first time last September. I was enchanted, and could easily see why Devin has embraced his culture and language. Devin’s passion and journey make me think of my own cultural background and the different ways I can connect to it and keep alive today and for generations to come.
I asked Devin for any advice he had for his generation and he said:
People in my generation should surround themselves with others who inspire them, teach them, and value them; then turn around, inspire, teach, and value others.
Identify your own assets and look for the assets in people around you to create your ideal work environment, friend & family environment, and home environment. Very little of my professional career has looked like what I anticipated when I was in college. We are living in a very different place than our parents (or even older siblings). Take the best advice that you can from them, take a deep breath, and recognize that we have to make the future from these seemingly random pieces we have been given.
Never forget that we are capable of creating great things to move our country and world forward.