The People You Meet: Laura Blackmore

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Laura Blackmore sits on the ground, leaning to the side as she places her hand on the grass for support. Her legs are stretched slightly to the other side, right next to her cloth bag and cellphone. The late afternoon sun still hangs high in the sky, shining down on the manicured green grass where she sits with Mus, an Arabic-speaking university student.

It’s hardly a conventional method for conducting an interview, but Blackmore never liked doing interviews in the first place.

“When you tell people it’s an interview, they might get tense and not open up as much,” Blackmore said.

Instead, Blackmore, the founder of a blog entitled Multi-Linguals of Melbourne, prefers conversations. Those are easier, more natural, more in keeping with her site’s north star: to introduce people to Melbourne’s linguistic diversity.

“I’ve always been interested in other people’s stories and I wanted to create something,” Blackmore explained. “When I thought of this concept of Humans of New York but with a language and cultural twist, it just made sense to me.”

In a city where 251 languages are spoken, there are ample stories for Blackmore to document — stories like those of Mus.

“Can you talk a little bit about your thesis?” she asks him.

“Certainly, although it hasn’t quite started yet,” he said. “We’re looking at the way people think about languages, specifically Arabic, because I guess that’s what most of my studies have been in.”

Mus goes on to tell all about how he’s planning to evaluate the way Arabic is described in media and political rhetoric. Blackmore simply sits there and nods, smiling all the while.

Later on, she’ll go back home and publish a few quotes from the conversation ­– another distinct bit of culture in a town overflowing with it.