On October 24-26, 2008, twenty-two activists and community members from across North Carolina gathered in Durham for Highlander’s 10th multilingual capacity building (MLCB) workshop, which provides training for interpreters working in social justice settings. The participants ranged in age from 16 to the mid-50s and represented a wide range of organizations, including Student Action with Farmworkers, Randolph County Latino Coalition, Center for Participatory Change, North Carolina Justice Center, Comida no Migra, Amexcan, and Alianza, Levante Youth.
Four of the participants were under the age of 18, which added an important perspective to the workshop. Several of the young people live in migrant communities, and all attend local schools. They serve as the linguistic buffers between their communities and the world with which they have to interact – schools, doctors, police, etc. – a dynamic discussed in the workshop. Having folks there who live this experience and were willing to share what it looks like in the everyday was invaluable.
The workshop was facilitated by staff from Highlander, the Center for Participatory Change (CPC), and Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF). The SAF facilitator was a participant in the March 2008 multilingual capacity building workshop. He and one of the participants from this workshop are working as co-planners of the Interpreting Team for the Southern Human Rights Organizers Conference, to be held December 12-14, 2008, in Durham. This is just one of many examples of the way in which Highlander’s MLCB work is having a multiplier effect throughout the region.
Highlander staff have documented the curriculum for the MLCB workshops, and a published version will be available soon from the Highlander bookstore. We are already planning more workshops for 2009 and will be meeting soon with key strategic partners to begin work on a “Level 2” MLCB curriculum that will take Highlander’s analysis and training around language and social justice to the next level.