Spanish & Portuguese in the United States

The Sirocco winds begin in the Sahara Desert and can be understood as a metaphor for movement across nations, cultures, and regions. They carry African sands, seeds, dust, and sediment as they regain force in their transit across the Mediterranean. Trade ships were also carried by these winds. Ideas and memory are carried by these winds. Even architectural forms have been designed around the Sirocco, from Sicily as far east as Iran.

These winds also serve as a metaphor for the movement of languages through migration and exchange.

Though reports vary, the United States has either the second or third largest Spanish-speaking population on the planet. If the Spanish-speaking population continues to increase (roughly a 13% increase in 2015), then the United States could be the largest Spanish-speaking country on Earth. The United States does not have an “official language” in its constituton, much to the dismay of those in favor of erecting walls and supporting “English-only” language policies.

In numerous Massachusetts and Rhode Island communities, Portuguese (Continental and Brazilian) and Portuguese-based Cape Verdean Criollo are the second and third most widely-spoken languages, ahead of Spanish. Check out this interactive map based on U.S. Census reports from 2011.

This language diversity, despite what could become an increasingly hostile culture for immigrants with a new president-elect, is something that must be celebrated. It is an enormous opportunity, particularly for the younger generations who come from monolingual English-speaking homes, to hear and live with and capture the joy of the sound of languages like Spanish and Portuguese. It is an unparalleled moment of language contact, from the big cities of the U.S. to even the smaller towns.

For this reason (and of course to share stories in written form that will inspire) one of the SiroccoBlue projects is to develop a trilingual series of short stories that explores language use and the joy of the sounds of Portuguese and Spanish for children. It will include other languages too: the language of dreams and memories, of music, and even animal companions who speak across Cambridgeport streets.

While the winds serve as a metaphor for the movement of language through migration, the Sirocco can also be seen as a symbol for exchange. Global education and exchange initiatives have always been at the core of the SiroccoBlue services. And soon, with the e-book project “Study Abroad: A Guide for Program Developers,” an all new website will be launched specifically for international education program development. More to come on that work soon!

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Testimonial | Study Abroad Leadership & Development

In early 2012, just after completing a Fulbright research grant in Brazil, I was hired by CIEE to assess the study abroad programs in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, identify which parts of the operation could be salvaged, and take apart and rebuild the programs. Catharine Scruggs, long-standing Executive Director of all CIEE programs and an important figure in all of CIEE’s expansion and development initiatives, recently shared some reflections on my work as Resident Director (2012-2015), the same type of services I am now offering as a freelance consultant:

“I first met Jacob Dyer Spiegel in early 2012 when I interviewed him for a Resident Director position for the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) programs in Salvador, Brazil. During his tenure as RD, Jacob impressed me because of his ability to assess program strengths and weaknesses, work with senior management to effectively re-create an international study center, build partnerships, and transform the curriculum around student-centered learning models. Continue reading “Testimonial | Study Abroad Leadership & Development”

Afro-Cuban Oral Traditions & Comparative Literary Mapping: Lecture Series by Dr. Ileana Sanz

Between 2002-2004 I did my Master’s degree with Dr. José Buscaglia and Dr. Ileana Sanz in Estudios Culturales de América Latina y el Caribe at Universidad de la Habana (Cuba) and the State Univ. of New York-Buffalo.

It was the first dual-enrolled, fully reciprocal graduate studies program between a U.S. and Cuban institution and it focused on comparative approaches that could unlock aspects of the shared aesthetic and cultural traditions across the Americas. A fully-bilingual program, Cuban nationals and professors even went to Buffalo to study and Artes y Letras at La Universidad de la Habana received those of us based out of the U.S. with open arms for 2-3 semesters of study.

My work followed the literary and visual arts of the African diaspora, particularly Cuba and Brazil, into the thriving Yoruba religious systems of Regla de Ocha, Candomblé, and Voudún. It was essentially an alternative cultural anthropology through the literary imagination across languages.

Dr. Ileana Sanz’s work on oral traditions and the presence of orality in written Caribbean texts in multiple languages (her work follows Kamau Brathwaite’s “Nation Languages,” and includes texts of all types in English, Krèyol, French, Spanish, Papiamentu, Portuguese), her dedication to studying the Caribbean and African diaspora comparatively and not bound to the European metropoles was at the core of many of our projects.

Continue reading “Afro-Cuban Oral Traditions & Comparative Literary Mapping: Lecture Series by Dr. Ileana Sanz”

Na Fronteira da Ciência e a Reforma Social do Brasil

No meio de tanto tumulto no Brasil, sem importar a sua posição política, há algo concreto e imensamente positivo que é resultado do enorme investimento do governo brasileiro para a ciência, tecnologia e invocação do país, o programa Ciência sem Fronteiras (CsF). Os bolsistas de pós-graduação do programa Ciência sem Fronteiras em EUA, um dos maiores programas de bolsas de estudos da história do planeta, estão realizando pesquisas extremamente inovadoras e relevantes para ciência e de alta utilidade para a resolução de problemas sociais do país. Ocupam e ocuparão, através dos seus projetos, a ‘fronteira’ entre a ciência, a academia e a sociedade brasileira.

Entre os dias 12 e 13 de março de 2016, na Harvard University, os bolsistas de doutorado do programa Ciência sem Fronteiras, nos Estados Unidos, organizaram a primeira conferência dedicada a estudantes brasileiros de pós-graduação. Com o intuito de compartilhar as suas experiências e os seus projetos de pesquisa, em diversas áreas da ciência, matemática, engenharia e tecnologia.

A conferência, chamada BRASCON, abriu um espaço de suma importância para que alguns dos alunos mais talentosos do Brasil—a próxima geração de líderes do país—compartilhassem a sua experiência uns com os outros. Muitos não se conheciam antes da conferência. No entanto apesar do rigor científico das palestras, tinha-se a sensação de estar em uma grande família. com cada bolsista logrando seus objetivos acadêmicos e pessoais, comprometidos a levar o aprendizado de volta ao Brasil. Houve, sem dúvida, um senso de união em prol de um objetivo comum: transformar o país que amam.

A conferência teve vários componentes dinâmicos. Houve em torno de 30 apresentações de pôsteres, 9 bolsistas foram selecionados para apresentações orais e também belas palestras dadas por líderes atuais, em vários campos da ciência do Brasil e dos EUA. Entre estes líderes estavam o Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, professor de Neurobiologia e Engenharia Biomédica da Duke University, vinculado ao Instituto Internacional de Neurociência de Natal e o Dr. Marcelo Gleiser, professor de Física e Astronomia do Dartmouth College. Os alunos também puderam ouvir relatos e experiências internacionais do Dr. Márcio Resende, Jr, Dr. Leonardo Teixeira, Ana Lopes, Dra. Cristina Caldas e Dra. Ana Carolina Nogueira.

Houve momentos de compartilhar ideias inovadoras e também momentos de pensar como coletivo, no grande e misterioso impacto de atravessar fronteiras linguísticas e culturais nos programas de doutorado nos Estados Unidos. As perguntas do público envolviam a intersecção da ciência e da sociedade, como por exemplo, como a ciência pode impactar as comunidades brasileiras e também como navegar as traduções culturais e obstáculos entre culturas. Foram palestras que se converteram em oficinas de apoio: uma receita para dar novas energias aos projetos de pesquisa e permitir que os alunos pensem na direção social que querem ter.

Da minha perspectiva, alguém que trabalhou nos dois programas de intercâmbio envolvendo Estados Unidos e Brasil (100.000 Strong in the Americas no Brasil, e Ciência sem Fronteiras nos EUA), a BRASCON foi sem dúvida, um dos encontros entre bolsistas mais produtivos que já vivi. A conferência foi organizada e implementada, sem patrocínios, pelos próprios bolsistas, justamente no momento em que muitos dos 505 bolsistas atuais de doutorado nos EUA começam a se aproximar à época de conclusão do curso e redação de suas teses de doutorado. Estes projetos de tese em fase final significam que um número significativo de bolsistas está se preparando para retornar ao Brasil e estes claramente mostraram o grande impacto que terão na transformação social e científica do país.

Além de não ser cientista, o português, idioma belíssimo que foi praticamente eleito como língua oficial da conferência, não é a minha primeira língua. São nestes momentos que os usos de língua se tornam evidentes porque, normalmente em congressos científicos, mesmo em inglês, tenho a sensação de que não falo língua alguma, especialmente porque todos do público aplaudem com grande admiração o material apresentado. Com um foco especial nas questões linguísticas, o que para mim é a chave para um programa de bolsa tal como o CsF em que, ao voltar, se espera que o aprendizado se converta em intervenções sociais e melhoramento geral para a sociedade, fiquei absolutamente maravilhado com a capacidade de cada bolsista de ‘traduzir’ o seu projeto da linguagem científica para a língua franca para alcançar um público de diversas áreas de pesquisa.

Muitos dos bolsistas compartilharam sobre o grande compromisso social e espírito de voluntariado que absorveram na cultura norte-americana. Notei bastante a preocupação social, como centro de quase todas as palestras e apresentações. Esta capacidade de conectar campos de pesquisa e comunicar as ideias mais inovadoras da ciência em uma língua comum, (uma língua que até eu possa entender) reitera que este grupo não só vai levar a ciência a níveis nem sequer esperados de volta para o Brasil, como também, conseguir ensinar e melhorar a didática da ciência para motivar as próximas gerações. Os bolsistas de doutorado pleno servirão de intermediadores entre a ciência e o enorme trabalho social que o Brasil está por fazer.

Também através da BRASCON ganhei um respeito profundo pelo humanismo de cada projeto, pela inspiração de contribuir ao Brasil. Eu já tinha ouvido as críticas feitas pela mídia, ao programa, em especial a brasileira, que nunca se sentou em uma mesa com os bolsistas de PhD nos EUA e outros países. Quando eu dizia que trabalhava com o CsF nos EUA, era comum ouvir comentários como ‘o Governo Federal está dando bolsas de estudos somente aos alunos de classe média ou cima. Isto, porque é exigido uma pontuação mínima no TOEFL, exame de proficiência em inglês. Para algumas pessoas, somente os alunos que tiveram educação em escolas particulares e/ou dinheiro para pagar cursos de inglês, conseguem uma pontuação alta no TOEFL para serem aceitos nas universidades dos EUA. Eu entendia a ideia por trás destes comentários, nas diversas formas em que foi articulada, mas não a aceitava. Para alguns, a crítica estendeu-se ao futuro retorno ao Brasil: ‘por ser uma bolsa que beneficiava uma classe social removida da realidade do país, não existiria um retorno da ciência e da experiência no exterior para as massas brasileiras. A crítica, neste contexto mal informado, era de que os alunos não se sentiriam na obrigação de contribuir para a melhora e o desenvolvimento de uma das sociedades onde há mais desigualdade no mundo.

No entanto, na BRASCON eu ouvi e gravei histórias maravilhosas de pessoas que superaram obstáculos sociais e econômicos para entrar no CsF. Talvez estes não sejam a maioria, mas o impacto destes poucos é extraordinário. Além disto, percebi que, até mesmo os alunos que eu conheci, que vieram de classes mais empoderadas do Brasil enxergam um compromisso e preocupação social extremamente profundo com o Brasil. Nas palavras de Guilherme Rosso (co-fundador da Rede CsF que fez uma apresentação espetacular sobre a importância da entre bolsistas), “O sentimento geral é que ainda temos um futuro para o Brasil e que Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação devem estar na pauta. As ruas podem ser ocupadas pelo povo sim, mas as escolas devem ser ocupadas pela ciência também. Os políticos e os jogadores de futebol podem estar nos noticiários, mas os cientistas devem ter espaço compartilhado na mídia.”

Através do esforço extraordinário dos voluntários da diretoria e coordenação da BRASCON, foi possível criar um ponte que inspirou e continuará inspirando bolsistas e alunos brasileiros no exterior. Carleara Rosa, Gisele Passalacqua, Vanessa Dias e Gláucia Ribeiro, junto com bolsistas, realizando seus estudos em cada canto dos EUA (Raquel Rocha, Cristiano Reis, Sara Dumit, Tássia Pereira, Jéssica Silva, Luiz Felipe Ungericht, Karin Calvinho, Karina Lima, Luana Teles, João Vogel, Andre Guerrero, Ariane Brotto, Gabriela Veroneze), criaram uma plataforma institucional e dinâmica e um grande momentum.

Este ato da BRASCON de construir um palco é um demonstrativo claro da vontade enorme de criar redes e colaborações entre os bolsistas e, acima de tudo, aprender uns com os outros. Para mim, a Brascon partiu da vontade de desenvolver vínculos entre projetos e pesquisas, permitir que os alunos se conheçam pessoalmente, e criar uma ferramenta extremamente necessária para unir estes bolsistas brasileiros, os próximos líderes de ciência, de educação e de compromisso social no país.

Enfoquei-me, neste artigo breve, nos alunos da pós-graduação nos Estados Unidos, mas os mesmos comentários aplicam aos bolsistas da pós-graduação em outros países e também aos da graduação. Sabendo que estou colocando a mão no fogo de determinações já concretizadas pela força de mídia no Brasil, posso apenas compartilhar o que vi com os meus próprios olhos na minha universidade do meu estado natal, a Universidade de Massachusetts-Amherst. Os alunos de graduação do programa CsF, às vezes criticados pela mídia brasileira por uma porcentagem minúscula que partiu-se do rigor acadêmico que o 99% demonstrou no estrangeiro, impressionaram, de maneira profunda, tantos os professores quanto os colegas do maior campus do estado. O “país de futebol,” pelo menos na universidade em Amherst de mais de 30,000 pessoas, virou “país da ciência.” Além disto, a palavra “sem” da CsF significava (para nós aqui em Massachusetts, estado em que Português é o segundo idioma mais falado) que não há fronteira entre a ciência que estes bolsistas estudam, a língua e cultura que absorveram e o impacto que vão ter no âmbito social do Brasil.

Especialmente neste momento de re-imaginar a nação, no meio de uma das crises mais severas na história do país que amam de coração, os alunos da Ciência sem Fronteiras estão redefinido o papel que a ciência–de energia renovável a medicina a novos processos agrícolas–terá na sociedade.

Este artigo foi escrito em Português por Jacob Dyer Spiegel de www.SirccoBlue.com | Março 20, 2016.

Por favor, “curtam” a nossa Página de Facebook e podem nos seguir para mais comentários sobre a Ciência sem Fronteiras, futuras entrevistas com os bolsistas e outras redações sobre o programa de bolsas.

You can also read about the conference in English: “Brazilian Scholars Unite: Brascon Sets a Stage for Sharing”.

Brazilian Scholars Unite: Brascon Sets a Stage for Sharing

On July 25th 2011, the announcement echoed through the world and was translated into over 100 languages by the break of dawn: Brazil, over a ten year period, would soon begin sending 101,000 students overseas to study science, technology, math, and engineering. It was called Ciência sem Fronteiras, or ‘Science Without Borders’—a bold way of supporting the intellectual development of the nation’s most talented students, the next generation of innovators and leaders of Brazil.

Across all national, cultural, linguistic, and traditional academic borders, Brazilian students from the country’s 26 states and Federal District would study abroad at the undergraduate and graduate levels, committed to return to Brazil to make lasting impact not only in science and technology, but also in education and the country’s developing infrastructure. These scholars would be, in short, the group to carry Brazil’s spirit of innovation across multiple fields and groups and to catalyze social change.

Overnight, new ETS sites (the test centers where English proficiency exams are offered) had to be built and to accommodate the demand and testing services even had to be offered in neighboring Argentina and Uruguay. Soccer rivalries no longer mattered: the development of the future leaders of the nation and science education in Brazil reigned. GOL and TAM reservation systems shut down. Car rentals so Brazilian nationals could take the exam in neighboring states and countries tripled. So many applications were filled out that the entire registration system crashed multiple times. This would be one of the largest education development and mobility projects in the history of our planet.

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Four years later, Brascon—a newly formed organization led by graduate-level Science Without Borders scholars with the goal of creating a network of innovative researchers to shake up Brazilian science for the next 20 years and beyond—organized and implemented the first conference to celebrate the stories and achievements of these extremely talented scholars doing their graduate studies here in the United States. This was the first time all Science Without Borders Ph.D. students in the US, 505 in total though not all were in attendance, had the chance to formally gather and share stories of success, challenges, and the incredible research projects they are working on. The timing of the conference, held this past weekend at Harvard University with over 150 in attendance, could not have been better: as the Science Without Borders program began in 2011, the first wave of Ph.D.’s will soon be graduating and heading back to Brazil.

In development since the one of the world’s most ambitious scholarship programs was launched, the immensely successful Brascon conference was a testament of the Brazilian scholars’ desire to unite and to explore what it means to be the future leaders of the country’s science innovation and education, and also the implications of being at the crossroads of science and Brazilian society. In the words of Dr. Marcelo Gleiser, who presented on the first day of the conference, “Vocês vão disseminar uma visao do mundo. Vão ser educadores com uma visão social.” (“You are going to disseminate a new vision of the world. You are going to be educators with a social consciousness and vision”). The handwritten note by Glivânia Maria de Oliveira (photograph below), the dynamic and charismatic head of the Brazilian Consulate in Boston who has won over the entire community in very short period of time, reiterated the importance of the scholars’ work and the importance of connecting in forums such as Brascon’s.

The conference featured the innovative research of the Brazilian Ph.D. scholars as well as invited guest speakers such as Miguel Nicolelis, Marcelo Gleiser, Ana Lopes, Bernardo Lemos, Márcio Resende, Jr., Leonardo Teixeira, and Cristina Caldas (among many others). Approximately 30 Ph.D. students broke out into poster sessions and explained their projects in depth to small interactive groups fascinated by the work. 10 Ph.D. students presented their research to in the large conference hall on topics that ranged from anaerobic digestion and algae cultivation, to turbofan swirl distortion, to crowd-funding and urban infrastructure. During Dr. Miguel Nicolelis’s presentation, the first on an early Saturday morning, it was difficult to find a dry eye in the audience. Riveting accounts of taking science into Macaíba and Serrinha and transforming lives, brining hope and healing to some of the most disadvantaged communities in Brazil, set the stage for what would be a profound series of introspections and motivational moments.

A network of support emerged for scholars working in almost all of the U.S. states: “mudou a minha vida, o impacto foi nada menos que isto, há na minha pesquisa uma nova procura que ganhei aqui em Brascon. Este congress nos ajudou a discerner em que caminho seguir depois do dotourado.” (though an emotive translation proves difficult, ‘the conference changed my life, the impact was nothing less than that, there’s a new search and series of goals to my research that come out of this experience at Brascon. The conference helped us see clearly the paths that we will take after completing our doctoral programs.’). Speakers, understanding the challenges that the Ph.D. scholars face in a new cultural system, naturally transitioned from hard science to the hard moments of navigating relationships with academic advisors. Part lab, part family gathering, always adaptive, Brascon provided support and established–through direct contact–a network that will prove extremely beneficial to the academic and professional paths of all present.

Made possible by volunteers and the scholars themselves (and without any fiscal sponsorship), the Brascon conference represents a deep desire to unite, share experiences, share research and collectively explore the implications of what it means to be the group of scholars, 505 in total in US universities, that have been chosen to lead Brazil’s future in science, the gathering was also intensely emotional.

People cried when sharing their projects and even when asking questions to the numerous panelists, partly because it was the first time they were able to be in the direct physical presence of each other, partly because it was so evident that the future of the country is so deeply part of their projects. It was nothing short of magical to be in the space so carefully and thoughtfully curated by the Brascon team over a period of three years between doctoral courses, exams, dissertation research, teaching, and lab work, all in a new culture and language.

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Though the intended audience was primarily Ph.D. scholars and the organizations directly connected to Science Without Borders, the gathering also attracted students who traveled from Bahia and Rio de Janeiro. For Úrsula Kopke, a 23 year-old student of publicity and neuroscience, who traveled to Cambridge, MA just for the conference, it was the first time she had taken a flight and the first time she had left Brazil. People not even “inside” of the scholarship program, in other words, saw the importance of Brascon’s gathering at such a profound level that they too crossed all borders to attend. Úrsula’s open-hearted question about her own future in science, someone who grew up in a small town in the state of Rio de Janeiro, was met with a most powerful gesture of inclusion and belonging by one of her heroes, Dr. Nicolelis.

The mission of Science Without Borders, articulated on July 26th, 2011 at the beginning of the program, was at the very core of Brascon: “Nós vamos formar a base de pensamento educacional do país” (the Ciência sem Fronteiras will core of of educational thought and values in Brazil). From the U.S. to Hungary to Japan and beyond, Science Without Borders has most definitely showcased the enormous talent of Brazilian scholars at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Though the Ph.D. students have not yet completed their programs, they soon will and organizations like Rede CsF and Brasa have emerged and are carefully tracking the shift in mindset and focus that scholars are taking with them as they re-enter the Brazilian cultural system.

 

After the conference, I had the pleasure of sitting in on the Brascon team final dinner in which all involved in this massive effort reflected on the conference, what it took to create the first gathering of Ph.D. scholars in the US, and the meaning of the Science Without Borders program. I learned that this dynamic group spread across multiple states had been holding organizational meetings in such varied spaces as parked cars, moving subways, airports, labs, family dinner tables: anywhere necessary to make sure the conversations continued and this unique forum could happen. Some of the volunteers (and they were all volunteers) worked so hard that they did not even get to see the conference speakers–their immense satisfaction came through the collective experience of all present.

Ironically, as we all celebrated this incredible Science Without Borders program, a national project in every sense, just down the street at Harvard Square a large group wearing yellow and green gathered to protest corruption and called openly for the impeachment of President Dilma. In São Paulo, over one million protestors gathered. Some of them question massive investment into projects like Science Without Borders, calling it ‘a waste’ of public funds that should have been used to build schools and reform the k-12 public system. Yet all in attendance at Brascon left with a common understanding: these scholars will be returning to Brazil to participate in that very process of rebuilding public education and with important new perspectives gained not only through the programs of study, but also through that mysterious form of experiential learning that is ‘study abroad,’ in which—suddenly confronted by new values, languages, cultural traditions—the crossing of borders suddenly becomes a mirror into the self and the cultural system one comes from.

This article is the first in a series on Ciência sem Fronteiras. I will be sharing interviews with scholars, thoughts from ‘behind the scenes’ having worked very closely with CsF and 100,000 Strong in the Americas (joint initiatives that are inseparable), and insight on cultural and language immersion (among other topics). The work of Brascon set the stage for this and being with these dynamic scholars also let me see the different roles I have moved through in both education initiatives and in both countries. Agradecimento profundo, endless gratitude and respect for the people who made this event possible: Carleara Rosa, Gisele Passalacqua, Vanessa Dias, Gláucia Ribeiro, Raquel Rocha, Cristiano Reis, Sara Dumit, Tássia Pereira, Jéssica Silva, Luiz Felipe Ungericht, Karin Calvinho, Karina Lima, Luana Teles, João Vogel, Andre Guerrero, Ariane Brotto, Gabriela Veroneze. Rede CsF, Brasa, CAPES, SciBr, and the Brazilian Consulate of Boston were also instrumental in the Brascon organizing process.

And, of course, it is important to recognize the incredible work of so many people behind the scenes of this scholarship program. The people in the international offices at CAPES and CNPq who stay up around the clock, resolving issues not even imaginable, at Laspau and IIE, who, in partnership, join in that process, working directly with hundreds of US universities. This was a moment of sharing do coração that was also conscious of all of the people who made this initiative possible, still strong and still contributing.

Written in English by Jacob Dyer Spiegel | March 16th, 2016.

Photography, Reading, & Writing Project | Brazil

Meet Isadora and Leóncio (the enormous cat):

Isadora is from Salvador da Bahia, Brazil and is one of ten young kids who would informally gather in the story-telling circles that I ran while living in the capital city. The circles involved reading, creating oral narratives of our own, and writing the stories. At times, the kids wanted to work with images, so they would take my digital camera and go around their neighborhood, capturing the image of the concept they wanted to share. We would create slideshows together.

What convinced me even more that the kids were deeply enjoying and learning from the project was that images moved from favorite stuffed animals, to the neighborhood, to each other, and the story-telling workshop itself: Isadora’s story was about our group. Her vision of what it means to grow up in the neighborhood is seen in the images and her oral and written narratives.

Here is Isadora’s reflection on “o dia a dia” (day to day life) in the neighborhood. Her word-iamge stories reflect constant movement: kids from the neighborhood, the changing rules of games they create, the ocean that surrounds the neighborhood, pounding the rocks below.

The kids in the word-image story-telling group loved taking photographs of each other and they included each other in their stories:

 

The word-image-story project gets a group of kids together and is a safe space in a difficult neighborhood to share, explore, and have a structure to create in. I want to get cameras in their hands and I want to run these story-telling workshops using a reading, telling, writing method that I developed in Salvador. I want to merge the story-telling with image story-telling, with digital cameras.

What does this have to do with translation? Well, the stories would be translated by students in translation workshops in the U.S. (students who don’t really know that they are translators but are experimenting with translation). Through their translation, they will establish a relationship with the younger kids from the neighborhoods in Salvador. I hope to raise funds so that the U.S. based students can travel to Salvador. And, when the younger kids are older, hopefully they will be able to come to the U.S. As students in the U.S. translate these stories, they are working under a concept of translation that positions the translator as an intermediary and facilitator, an active shaper of meaning. It is a chance to explore as translators.

But this story-telling project is translative, also, in that stories are translations of experience. Image can be a translation of spoken/written word. And image and word transform each other–that itself is a reflection on how the translation can alter the source “text.”

Photography is also a translation of light, space, and perception into another image. The old process of exposure and preparing negatives–the dark room–is that translator’s space as well. So many models to explore, all telling stories of fragments of the translator’s experience!

If you would like to help make this project happen, please send a line: SiroccoBlue7@gmail.com

Anyone can help by sending this link to organizations/individuals that might like to donate equipment.

Teaching Writing in a Multilingual Classroom

I thought I’d post up my response to a question posed during the Language and Diversity practicum offered to the instructors of the expository writing courses taught at UMass-Amherst: “How do we as teachers of writing/composition benefit by having L2 and/or multilingual students in our classrooms.” The answer was only supposed to be a paragraph-long (hence the apologetic tone) so I deleted things like “speakers of multiple languages draw from a wider range of experiences and outlooks” and tried to concentrate on things more easily overlooked. Let me know what you think — it would be nice to keep adding to the list. Outside of “foreign” language programs, this country / universities in the U.S. tend to treat multilingual students as “issues” and “problems”, as if multilingualism is some kind of thing to work out and monolingualism is preferable! Here is where I started…

This question has triggered a lot of thought and “journal” writing. I’ll take “the fifth” on how many pages were filled in my little notebook/drawing pad (and “the fifth” as a term/concept shows us how language carries political references and cultural values… oh dear, here I go….), but I realize that we’re all reading too much as it is and will spare you the long winded response. “Anyways” (another word that carries all kinds of interesting meanings that L2 speakers will often perceive – the connections between “any” and “ways” and the constant utterance of “anyways” or “anyway” as bridge/point of changing the topic may be overlooked by the “native speaker”), it’s probably more effective to just jump into a few examples from the College Writing 112 course…

One semester I started out with “what the hell is ‘the self’ anyways?” Multilingual students were able to compare the word “self” (we’re inquiring into the “self”/ “selves” for unit 1) as used in different language systems and they showed us as a group how that concept changes. “Self” could be “inner being” and its endless labyrinth of meanings in English, and in Yoruba it can be “Ori”, implying a connection to one’s destiny, one’s inner potentiality, and “inner head.” So the multilingual students become the teachers of “self” and we see through the many languages how a concept like “self” shifts between cultures. That blows open endless discussions on “the self” and how to inquire into it.

On our discussion of “language”, multilingual students were also able to explore the word that signifies a “method of communicating” and brought in some fascinating observations on how the Latin root “langue” implies “the tongue” — that language is connected to speech and not necessarily to “movement” or “life-force” or “spirit” as it is in other language systems.

Those two brief examples show us how language and perception and philosophy are intricately tied. Also, language conjures up a whole range of contexts (we see it in “I’ll take the 5th on that one”) that point at “different” social constructs that can be compared in a classroom. By tapping into the different ways of perceiving a text/phenomenon (by looking at concrete words or by exploring open questions like “the contexts that make me”) our classroom becomes much richer.

One last thing: L2 students bring in different approaches to creating things like a thesis statement/arguable claim/whatever we call it. For example: in U.S. universities it may be acceptable to start with “This paper will look at ….” Try starting off with “El presente trabajo analizará…” in Cuba and you will see a red circle around the introduction with something like “no” written next to it. Our approach to writing and our methods are linked to aesthetic sensibilities and values and those are cultural as well: the multilingual student in 112 classes is a great reminder of that. How do we benefit from that? I guess we see that to enforce some kind of “you must start a paper by doing x,x, and x”-rule is actually preventing some students from exploring a topic in the way they want to. It can become, in some situations, a cultural imposition that will NOT benefit the student. Also, by embracing multiple approaches to something like an introduction we learn more about the different options we have as writers. That’s all for now.

More to come….

Jacob Dyer-Spiegel @ http://www.lenguamente.com  (2008)