How to get to successful “multi-culti” activities?
There is translation?!
In this part of the series about “How to get to successful multi-culti activities”, I would like to turn to the use of language of other communities in our project activities, as I come across different ways and approaches in solving this issue.
Language has recently been very often actualized as a problem as soon as we start implementing our main activities (seminars, conferences, debates etc.). In the working teams responsible for project implementation this cannot be considered to be a big problem, as such obstacles are eliminated by common sense that automatically wants to rationalize funds and energy and to focus on achieving results. If this energy is not invested in small working teams, much more attention will have to be paid later, when the team will respond to the target group’s needs. Solving this problem is not the same if it occurs in a small team or among representatives of our target groups.
How do I deal with the language problem? Firstly, I think that anyone working on a project that involves different communities should completely be aware of the political context, as well as the cultural and social environment at the moment. Secondly, when such problem occurs, we should put on special “lenses” that would zoom the problem, thus getting a clear picture about the way of its real solving. And thirdly, when problems occur such as use of language and translating, we should have a tendency to solve them as fast as we can not to make connected solidarity from like-minded and the problem not to be supported by the members of the target group that have an ambivalent relation towards it. It is here where we can see the opportunity to strengthen the relation with those who have an ambivalent attitude and normal neutralization and relaxation of people with extreme positions and attitudes towards solving the problem.
Many of the participants will refer to institutional support, and here you will not have much opportunity to maneuver as you cannot oppose to the right of a person to want to use translation when there is such institutional frame. What can be done is to move the relations from an institutional frame to something more practical, efficient, economical, and even personal.
The occurrence of such problem should be projected at the very beginning of our activities. It is also normal to expect such problem to occur at smaller ethic communities that have an opportunity to use their mother tongue with the new legal frame, that they could not use in formal surroundings for a long time. And they will always refer to that right as it does not only represent an achievement of their generations, but everyone would be happy about something he/she had for the first time.
For someone to make a “leap” from thinking about formality in rational thinking, he/she should be motivated to see opportunities more realistically. Sometimes you will have to get so close to the person, so that he/she feels that you care about the problem.
From my personal experience I would say that I want to use the mother tongue anywhere I have a chance to, in spite of the fact that I speak most of the languages used in Macedonia very well. What discourages me is the moment when my child joy turns into boredom. It is about the moments when I hear the same sentence a few times in different languages. It takes a lot of time, it becomes boring, for me who speaks the languages and for those waiting for the turn of “their” translation. This would certainly be a benefit if I attended conferences in order to learn the speeches of different speakers by heart. But I go there to understand them, to understand the messages that are conveyed and to be an active factor of all projected processes at a conference. For that reason I personally do not want to use translation of languages I speak. What irritates me is when someone forbids me to express myself in a way that for me represents a right. If you were me, you could imagine the hundreds of ways I would react at that moment…
This personal thinking of mine helped me to solve the problems related to the language in a satisfactory way for the participants at my seminars and for me personally. What I always take into consideration when solving such problem is having a reserve plan. To make sure that at unsuccessful attempt I can meet the participants’ needs by providing translation especially for them. I have witnessed activities of various civil society organizations which, when such problem occurs, argument with the fact that they did not have enough funds to provide translation. I think that it is a complete miss.
In the everyday life I have noticed phenomena that make me optimistic that we will all start thinking more rationally, economically and efficiently when it is about the use of mother tongue in our project activities. A good signal that my way of thinking is correct, is firstly the fact that politicians in both the Parliament and the Government slowly start being not so categorical in using this right which is both theirs and ours. On the other hand, a lot of Macedonians start learning the Albanian language. What scares me is creating vacuum in the time towards inter-cultural bringing together where young generations will be completely cleared from speaking the languages of the others.
In spite of my references how to deal with the problem of translation, you should always be prepared for big disappointment, as it is however about characters of different individuals. It has happened to me a participant at my seminar to be completely disappointed that I had tried to rationalize both money and time. On the other hand, it has happened to me such people to be grateful to me in the end as I have given them an opportunity to improve the language of the “others”.
Conflict Management Trainer