“Our world hangs like a magnificent jewel in the vastness of space. Every one of us is a part of that jewel. A facet of that jewel. And in the perspective of infinity, our differences are infinitesimal. We are intimately related. May we never even pretend that we are not.” – Fred Rogers

To learn more about the 2019 Civic Institute and other sessions you may choose to attend, visit this link.

Found in Translation: Engaging Communities Across Language & Cultural Barriers

Talking about difficult issues is challenging in any language. In every community there are problems to solve, limited resources, and different perspectives. Cultural and language barriers can make communicating about shared problems and opportunities an even greater challenge. But these barriers represent rich worlds on each side, and sometimes in order to address problems well – and heal divides – it becomes necessary to look at an issue from a broader vantage point. This session will feature community leaders who represent, and often inhabit both worlds daily, working to bring people together across language and cultural barriers in Alabama communities.

When groups address issues of shared concern in a way that includes everyone experiencing them, the resulting byproduct of improved relationships become an important turning point in a community’s identity. When we understand each other more fully, we can turn our focus to the potential in our shared trajectory. It’s been said that a smile is universal, and it is, yet why stop there? There’s much deeper work to be done with neighbors whose language we do not speak, who share our problems, needs, and frequently the same zip codes.

Home is as much about the people we know and the language we take for granted, as it is about a familiar landscape. There’s often an accompanying loss for anyone who is uprooting themselves, or has been uprooted for a new life elsewhere. Traditions, relationships, the precious sense of being known and understood all have to be recreated, sometimes at great cost. These spiritual landmarks will not be the same as before. And from a community perspective, the process of creating a home in a new place – whether you’re an immigrant or a first generation college student – represents untapped possibilities for civic engagement.

The beauty of working across cultural barriers is that it can strip away the rhetoric from what we all need: safety, space to thrive, work to do, access to resources, and rights upheld. These needs are forces that transcend divides…when the conditions are right. So in this session, we’ll explore the following questions:

  • What are some essential elements for fostering genuine goodwill across cultural and language barriers in a community? Who needs to be involved? How should you begin?
  • What have you seen work well in your community to engage people across language and cultural barriers?
  • What work still needs to be done to bridge cultural and language barriers in our state?
  • What are some best practices for including a group who speaks a different language from the majority in activities of community and local government?
  • What can we do differently in order to successfully engage all of our neighbors?

Speaker details are forthcoming. View FAQs and save your seat today here! If you have additional questions, contact the event organizer, Kate Zeliff, at kmauldin@mathewscenter.org. We hope to see you on August 16th!