Title

Localization and Transferability of Community Engagement Concepts

Author Information

Ling JengFollow

Submission Type

Paper Abstract Submission

Symposium Selection

International influences

Keywords

Community engagement, Language, Cultural orientation

Abstract

There is a saying in Chinese that the monk from the other mountain teaches better. I told my host on my trip to Taiwan that the speakers from the United States may introduce different concepts and speak from different perspectives, but they are not necessarily better.

I conducted two weeks of visiting lectures in Taiwan, including 4 guest lectures to master’s and doctoral students, as well as two speeches to practicing librarians at a national library and an academic library. The problem, which is not really a problem but an essential and difficult task to me, is to make sure that I can convey the knowledge and concepts that I intend to convey across the language and cultural boundaries.

You see. When I was at the beginning of my doctoral study, I woke up one night suddenly realized I was dreaming in English. For more than 30 years since then, I have used English as my primary language in speaking and writing. Whenever I prepare for a presentation in Taiwan, it’s imperative to get myself re-acquainted with my native language: Chinese in writing and Mandarin in speaking. I need to identify proper translations of scholarly terms, and practice the sentence structures in speaking Mandarin. More importantly, I need the audience to make personal connection to my examples and to feel the impact from my passion and conviction.

I gave a speech at the National Central Library in Taiwan to an audience of more than 100 practicing librarians and students who will be future librarians. I began my speech with an image from the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 with a tweet from Ferguson Public Library. I didn’t have to think hard on using this photo. We see a black child standing alone surrounded by more than two dozen adult White policemen in riot gear with their hands on their guns and rifles. Some images need no explanation.

One of the harder things to do is to find good translation of terms that do not usually appear in casual conversations, terms like Critical inquiry, Appreciative inquiry, Asset-Based Community Development, Collective impact, Sustainability, Resilience, Empowerment, and Passion.

Take the word "empowerment." It’s 賜能 in Chinese or giving energy. This is not the meaning I intend to convey. Rather, I want us to provide opportunities for community members to discover their own power. The word "passion” in Chinese can be 熱情 (love between one person and another) or 熱忱 (love for a cause or a belief). Obviously, I am not talking about love between two persons.

Whenever I prepare for professional and scholarly communications in Taiwan, I keep reminding myself to be sensitive to my own cultural orientation and the cultural orientation of my audience, which, after 40 some years, I no longer possess.

Education for librarians is mostly at the undergrad level in Taiwan as opposed to the master’s level in the US. Taiwan has a more centralized funding structure for libraries whereas library funding sources are more diverse in the US.

It’s important to localize the examples I use whenever I can. I was talking about identifying community assets by first identifying our own personal skills, knowledge and passion. The example I used was the new friend I just met right before my speech, 雪珍. As soon as she introduced herself, she took out a small massage tool and gave me a 5-minute massage on my neck, my shoulders and my arms, because she wanted me to be completely relaxed for my speech.

A lot of our professional concepts, soft skills & advocacy are quite universal. The concept of community-based librarianship is the same in both countries. What I cannot assume universal is how people love their own place, their own community, and the people around them.

Ultimately, my purpose for presentations and scholarly exchanges is to break the traditional model of libraries and librarians acting as the monk from the other mountain, to inform, to instruct, and to rescue. My purpose is to facilitate the “change of mind” in my audience so that they can see their role as librarians to empower. The best way to do so is to open my heart so that they can see what I believe, feel the vibrations of my passion for what we can do as members of our own communities.Our work as librarians is to use information and communication technologies to facilitate positive changes in the community.

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Localization and Transferability of Community Engagement Concepts

There is a saying in Chinese that the monk from the other mountain teaches better. I told my host on my trip to Taiwan that the speakers from the United States may introduce different concepts and speak from different perspectives, but they are not necessarily better.

I conducted two weeks of visiting lectures in Taiwan, including 4 guest lectures to master’s and doctoral students, as well as two speeches to practicing librarians at a national library and an academic library. The problem, which is not really a problem but an essential and difficult task to me, is to make sure that I can convey the knowledge and concepts that I intend to convey across the language and cultural boundaries.

You see. When I was at the beginning of my doctoral study, I woke up one night suddenly realized I was dreaming in English. For more than 30 years since then, I have used English as my primary language in speaking and writing. Whenever I prepare for a presentation in Taiwan, it’s imperative to get myself re-acquainted with my native language: Chinese in writing and Mandarin in speaking. I need to identify proper translations of scholarly terms, and practice the sentence structures in speaking Mandarin. More importantly, I need the audience to make personal connection to my examples and to feel the impact from my passion and conviction.

I gave a speech at the National Central Library in Taiwan to an audience of more than 100 practicing librarians and students who will be future librarians. I began my speech with an image from the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 with a tweet from Ferguson Public Library. I didn’t have to think hard on using this photo. We see a black child standing alone surrounded by more than two dozen adult White policemen in riot gear with their hands on their guns and rifles. Some images need no explanation.

One of the harder things to do is to find good translation of terms that do not usually appear in casual conversations, terms like Critical inquiry, Appreciative inquiry, Asset-Based Community Development, Collective impact, Sustainability, Resilience, Empowerment, and Passion.

Take the word "empowerment." It’s 賜能 in Chinese or giving energy. This is not the meaning I intend to convey. Rather, I want us to provide opportunities for community members to discover their own power. The word "passion” in Chinese can be 熱情 (love between one person and another) or 熱忱 (love for a cause or a belief). Obviously, I am not talking about love between two persons.

Whenever I prepare for professional and scholarly communications in Taiwan, I keep reminding myself to be sensitive to my own cultural orientation and the cultural orientation of my audience, which, after 40 some years, I no longer possess.

Education for librarians is mostly at the undergrad level in Taiwan as opposed to the master’s level in the US. Taiwan has a more centralized funding structure for libraries whereas library funding sources are more diverse in the US.

It’s important to localize the examples I use whenever I can. I was talking about identifying community assets by first identifying our own personal skills, knowledge and passion. The example I used was the new friend I just met right before my speech, 雪珍. As soon as she introduced herself, she took out a small massage tool and gave me a 5-minute massage on my neck, my shoulders and my arms, because she wanted me to be completely relaxed for my speech.

A lot of our professional concepts, soft skills & advocacy are quite universal. The concept of community-based librarianship is the same in both countries. What I cannot assume universal is how people love their own place, their own community, and the people around them.

Ultimately, my purpose for presentations and scholarly exchanges is to break the traditional model of libraries and librarians acting as the monk from the other mountain, to inform, to instruct, and to rescue. My purpose is to facilitate the “change of mind” in my audience so that they can see their role as librarians to empower. The best way to do so is to open my heart so that they can see what I believe, feel the vibrations of my passion for what we can do as members of our own communities.Our work as librarians is to use information and communication technologies to facilitate positive changes in the community.