DGI SCIC virtual classes starting in LINCS !

by Fanny Chouc

scic getting ready

LINCS held its first virtual conference interpreting class in cooperation with SCIC today, with a select group of talented MA and MSc students. Thanks to the support of our AV team, we were able to set up the system used by SCIC to provide pedagogical assistance in interpreting training institutions across Europe.

So is this the start of a new era? Is distance-teaching going to be the way forward for interpreting training, and could it replace face-to-face teaching?

No quite yet: technology has its limits, and connections sometimes broke up, for brief periods. And even if there is a drive towards video-interpreting in some fields, a screen can’t give you the same feel as a live audience. Mastering nerves is a crucial part of interpreting training. It’s therefore very important for trainee interpreters to experience a real, live audience: the dynamics, logistics and overall communication change greatly, and being prepared for this is essential.

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But this experience was immensely useful. This is a great way to involve a range of talented trainers from Brussels for a few hours, without any plane, train or taxi journey required. The team of professional SCIC interpreters simply connected from one of their rooms in Brussels, and LINCS students worked in the familiar setting of our large conference interpreting lab. So this type of technology facilitated an excellent training session with experienced professionals without any travelling required on either part – a clear benefit for universities located far away from the epicentre of European life, and a great way for SCIC interpreters to interact with young talents who aren’t on their doorstep, but aren’t short of skills!

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This experience has also been a great way to bridge another invisible gap: the DGI can seem rather distant, and almost unattainable; possibly even more so from the distant shores of Bonnie Scotland. And yet after the session, our students gladly admitted that the speeches didn’t throw them: content, pace and level of difficulties mirrored fairly what they’d been doing in class during the year. Some even commented that the pace wasn’t quite as punishing as in classes they’d had at Heriot-Watt! The very positive feedback, focused on a number of aspects regularly discussed in class, also contributed to their confidence: they now realise that an EU interpreting career could be within their grasp, they have a better idea of what they need to work on, and most of them are now determined to apply for the accreditation tests.

So even if virtual interpreting classes aren’t about to replace live university programmes, they are certainly an amazing way to build bridge with international organisations such as the EU, and possibly to set up more cooperation across campuses and between interpreting training universities. We’re therefore looking forward to building on this success for further virtual classes with SCIC and hopefully with partner universities abroad!

Thank you Fanny Chouc and Jose Maria Conde for organising this 🙂

 

LINCS colleagues participate in SCORE with a Public speaking and International Communication Workshop for football referees

 

by Pedro Castillo and Maggie Sargeant 

For the second year running, two colleagues from the LINCS Department at Heriot-Watt’s School of Social Sciences (SoSS), Dr Maggie Sargeant and Dr Pedro Jesús Castillo Ortiz, were involved in the SCORE (Scottish Centre of Refereeing Excellence) course for football referees (2015) and assistant referees (2016), in partnership with the Scottish Football Association and Oriam: Scotland’s Sports Performance Centre, based at Heriot-Watt University. The course aims to provide a pathway for up-and-coming match officials to develop skills relevant to refereeing at the highest level of the game. In this regard, public communication skills and intercultural awareness are key in bringing Scottish referees into the international arena.

Building on existing research in communication and leadership in sport, Sargeant and Castillo delivered the first communications workshop of its kind in Scottish football. Neil Gibson (Director of Sport, Performance and Health at Oriam, Scotland’s Sport Performance Centre) was delighted that participants had the opportunity to develop the kind of skills that will take their careers beyond the national context.

In the first edition (2015-2016), 9 referees attended the course, learning how to deliver clear, concise and coherent messages when communicating both on and off the pitch. Best practices in dealing with how to explain the rules of the game both to players during football matches and to the media when required were highlighted as having been particularly useful by the participants in their workshop feedback.

In the second edition, this season, 10 assistant referees took part in a series of role plays, communicating with match officials in international matches where issues such as racism and sexism have to be handled sensitively. They also engaged in public dialogue around the offside rule, a game-changing situation in football, where assistant referees play a key role during matches.

In both editions, Dr Sargeant and Dr Castillo presented real and hypothetical scenarios for group discussion, in which referees and assistant referees have to face a diverse linguistic and cultural environment on and off the field (players, coaches, tournaments, media). Although the promising future referees and assistant referees were well aware of what is at stake in the international football sphere, this module of the course made them aware that knowledge of foreign languages, intercultural communication and dealing with a complex global media landscape are also crucial in achieving and providing excellence in refereeing.

To some extent, football referees share skills and challenges with interpreters, hence Dr Sargeant and Dr Castillo’s involvement in the course, with the conviction that transferable skills can be at the heart of courses such as this taught to up-and-coming SFA referees.

“If public communication skills, face-to-face interaction in multilingual environments, fast decision making and dealing with potentially conflicting parties is at the core of the training of future interpreters in LINCS, and we can successfully achieve it, why wouldn’t we apply it to football referees and other sports professionals?” Dr Sargeant and Dr Castillo explained.

With positive feedback from the SFA organisers and the participants of the course, the involvement in training opportunities such as SCORE evidence the potential impact that key skills we research on and teach in LINCS can have, bringing other professions and industries to the top level of international excellence.

We are looking forward to next year’s SCORE course and we hope to see these referees and assistant referees in the next Euros and World Cup.

Good luck!

LINCS students win prestigious summer school scholarship

by Kendra Jaudzin

Four undergraduate students from LINCS were successful in their application for a competitive scholarship offered by the German Academic Exchange Service, ‘Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst’ (DAAD).

The scholarships will enable Sarah Coats and Silvia Ramos Gonzalez (Year 2), as well as Carolyn Thomson and Christopher Rix (Year 1) to attend a 4-week summer school with a focus on German language and culture at a German university of their choice.

The DAAD Summer University Scholarships are open to Heriot Watt students of *all disciplines* with an intermediate level of German. Scholarships applications open up in November each year.

For more information contact the DAAD-Lektorin in LINCS, Kendra Jaudzin (k.jaudzin@hw.ac.uk).

DESIGNS: Employment in Deaf signing communities

by Jemina Napier

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Click here to see post in BSL.

On 12th and 13th January 2017, the kick-off meeting for the DESIGNs project (Deaf Employment for Sign Language Users in the EU) took place in Dublin, Ireland.

The 30-month project is modeled on the recently completed Justisigns project, which was funded through the European Commission’s former Leonardo Da Vinci Lifelong Learning programme and produced a range of resources for Deaf communities, sign language interpreters and police officers relating to deaf people’s access to justice in police settings (see here for video summarizing key outcomes).

The DESIGNS project is funded through the current European Commission’s ERASMUS+ Key Action 2 Strategic Partnerships, and brings together 7 partners from 4 EU countries who are renowned experts in the fields of Deaf Studies research, education and training, employment, sign language interpreting and Deaf community advocacy.

The project is promoted by the Interesource Group Ireland, and the partners are the Centre for Deaf Studies at Trinity College Dublin (Ireland), the Department of Languages & Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University (UK), the Deaf Studies Group at the Humboldt University of Berlin (Germany), the European Union of the Deaf and the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters (Belgium) and AHEAD – Association for Higher Education, Access and Disability (Ireland).

There is a direct link between early education, attainment of professional and/or educational qualifications, advancement into the labour market and social inclusion. Apart from financial autonomy, work and paid employment serves to develop a sense of belonging with positive mental health benefits and identification with the wider community (National Disability Authority, 2005). However, Deaf people continue to face barriers in education, employment and access to services such in healthcare, legal and social welfare settings.

In a report on poverty in the Deaf community, Conama and Grehan (2001) state that Deaf people experience higher rates of poverty, social exclusion and employment. Factors such leaving school with no examination nor qualifications, inadequate support for the use of sign language has resulted in a worrying picture and 80% of Deaf adults have literacy problems compared to 25% of the population as a whole.

Research and data on unemployment is under reported and inaccurate. “Deafness and hearing loss” is often used to report data, and sign language users who are Deaf is under-researched. The World Federation of the Deaf also reports that figures on (un)employment are inaccurate and difficult to quantify (Hauland & Allen, 2009).

The overall aim of the project is to create research-driven, evidence-based VET and CPD training resources and exchange best practices across Europe to facilitate greater participation of Deaf sign language users in employment.

This will be achieved by developing the following work package products:

  1. Creating training packages for deaf job seekers who are reported to be un- or under-employed;
  2. Creating training packages for employers to increase their awareness of deaf job applicants and job candidates to so that deaf job applicants have a better chance in succeeding in employment
  3. Creating training packages for sign language interpreters as part of their continuous professional development to understand the nature of interpreting in employment settings

The kick off meeting in Dublin involved the research consortium getting together to discuss and plan project milestones and tasks. In addition, a ‘townhall’ meeting was held in cooperation with the Irish Deaf Society at Deaf Village Ireland, to launch the project to local Deaf community members by giving an overview of various issues related to deaf people and employment and a description of the project. The event was live streamed through the Irish Deaf Society’s Facebook page, and the video can still be seen with presentations interpreted between English and International Sign.

The research input from Heriot-Watt University is being led by Professor Jemina Napier and a deaf research assistant will join the team at a later date. A newly arrived deaf PhD student – Mette Sommer –  will be conducting research on the lived experiences of deaf people at work – so her research will also complement the DESIGNS project.

The goal will be for Heriot-Watt University to cooperate with key stakeholder organisations in Scotland, including the British Deaf Association, Action on Hearing Loss, the Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters and the Association of Sign Language Interpreters UK, Deaf Action’s Employability Service.

A community information event will be hosted at Heriot-Watt University sometime in the coming months, so keep an eye out for information about the event and the project.

 

Back to Holyrood

by Fanny Chouc

Heriot-Watt MSc interpreting students have been getting a taste of the “real thing” this Thursday and will do so again next Thursday: they’re putting their interpreting skills to the test, during a live parliamentary debate at Scottish Parliament, and they’ll be practicing from the actual interpreting booths of the Scottish Parliament.

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Thanks to a long-standing cooperation with Holyrood, the seat of the Scottish Parliament, we’ve been able to give our 2016-2017 cohort a chance to experience a real professional booth, during an authentic event. Students are organized in small groups and split between the two main interpreting booths overlooking the main debating chamber. They practise live, simultaneous interpreting from interventions from the presiding officers and MSPs, under the supervision of lecturers who are also experienced conference interpreters.

Of course, microphones remain switched off: it’s only practice after all, and students are half-way through their training. But this type of proper situated learning experience, set in a genuine work environment, provides students with a unique chance to test their skills and observe a number of challenges which aren’t always easy to integrate in a classroom setting.

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This unique interpreting training experience has been the object of a study by Chouc and Conde, and there are many benefits for students: they are confronted, in the space of 2 ½ hours, with a range of Scottish accents, but also various paces or style of expression. They also become more aware of the type of procedural jargon used in parliamentary business, observing recurring turns of phrases used to present a motion, formally adopt it or to address the various stakeholders. They encounter passionate speeches, arguments, technical terms familiar to MSPs, but which can be challenging for students who don’t use this type of terminology daily. It also puts their awareness of current and local affairs to the test, since the parliament handles a range of matters very much determined by the news, as well as issues that every community faces.

But more than anything, students get a feel for the career they want to embrace: it’s a test of stamina, as they remain in the booths for the full duration of the session (over 2h). It’s also an opportunity to learn how to work in teams, as students all work in pairs or as a trio: they assist each other, discuss solutions and glossary, and gradually adopt the behaviour of professional interpreters, sitting side-by-side, and scribbling the words, acronyms, names or figures their colleagues may need. They also take it in turn to listen to their peers as pure users, thus applying their critical skills to a live performance. This is a crucial step in developing their own self-assessment and monitoring skills.

Ultimately, though, it remains an exciting and inspiring opportunity, and students leave the booths motivated, focused, and better aware of the demands of a professional interpreting assignment. And that takes them one step closer to professional booths in international institutions!

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Christmas, Interpreting and Scottish Parliament

By Mathilde Guillemet

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Edinburgh is dressed in its magical gown. It is covered in Christmas decorations, the Christmas market is on and Santa is just round the corner. Could there be a better time to visit? Well, the seven participants that decided to attend our Intensive Interpreting Practice course certainly didn’t think so.

For the first time this year, LINCS has decided to run this course in December. So seven interpreters gathered in Edinburgh from different part of the world (Sweden, Austria, Russia and even Senegal!) to get together and enhance their interpreting skills.

Our team of professional lecturers have worked with them all through the week, giving them constructive feedback on their output in English from all their working languages. They also received feedback on their Spanish, French and Russian from some lecturers.

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The week was very stimulating and eventful. The participants got a chance at practicing Simultaneous and Consecutive Interpreting in our state of the art interpreting labs. They also took the time to do some revision on their note-taking techniques.

As part of the course, too mock conferences were organised. The topics were: “Accessing medical care: challenges and issues” and “Economy and environment: friends or foes?” These offered the opportunity to students to practice delivering a speech and put themselves in the role of the speaker but also to interpret from real speeches and from a very lively discussion.

To prepare themselves to deliver a speech during these mock conferences, a public speaking session had been organised; because, after all, what is an interpreter if not a public speaker expressing someone else’s ideas?

As all the participants were practising interpreters, it was a good opportunity for networking and for sharing different techniques used by interpreters either when they are interpreting or ahead of the interpreting for preparation.

And finally, as Heriot Watt University has a partnership with the Scottish Parliament, the participants spent one afternoon working in a dummy booth. The Scottish Parliament have four interpreting booths that they kindly open to students of Heriot-Watt University for practice. This was an excellent exercise for our participants, as it allowed them to practice interpreting from a wide range of Scottish accents, a form of English to which they are not necessarily accustomed. It was also a great opportunity to witness the making of Scottish politics!

students from Heriot-Watt University practice simultaneous translation during a session of the Scottish parliament, in Edinburgh.  08 December 2016. Pic-Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

students from Heriot-Watt University practice simultaneous translation during a session of the Scottish parliament, in Edinburgh. 08 December 2016. Pic-Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

students from Heriot-Watt University practice simultaneous translation during a session of the Scottish parliament, in Edinburgh.  08 December 2016. Pic-Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

students from Heriot-Watt University practice simultaneous translation during a session of the Scottish parliament, in Edinburgh. 08 December 2016. Pic-Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

All our participants had a great time, enjoyed Edinburgh and the content of the course.

One participant said: “I very much appreciated the varied content of the course and the diversity of lecturers. I will without a doubt recommend this course. And many thanks for your precious advice!”

On that note, LINCS would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas.

If you would like some more information on this course and on other CPD courses run by Heriot Watt University please visit our website: https://www.hw.ac.uk/schools/social-sciences/departments/languages-intercultural-studies/intensive-interpreting-practice.htm

Or contact summerschool@hw.ac.uk

 

Heriot-Watt University BSL interpreting placements 2016-2017

By Jemina Napier

 <Click here to see this blog post in BSL>

Our first cohort of students from the BSL/English interpreting 4-year undergraduate programme graduated in June 2016. Most of the graduates have registered with either the Scottish Association of Sign Language Interpreters (SASLI) or the National Registers of Communication Professionals with working with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD) as trainee or qualified interpreters, and are already working as interpreters or communication support workers in various settings. Their readiness to work was thanks to the support they received from Deaf community members and professional BSL/English interpreters, who gave them the opportunity to go into real life interpreting assignments and learn outside the classroom. This basically means that students go on interpreting work placement in their 4th year, and shadow working interpreters; they observe interpreting in the real world and are also encouraged to try interpreting in safe environments by their interpreting mentors.

Interpreting work placement in 2016-2017

Based on feedback from mentors and students from last year, we have changed the structure of the interpreting work placement. Instead of doing 70 hours over two 1-week blocks in one semester, we have embedded the placement across the whole academic year. So now students are required to complete 100 hours of shadowing: 25 hours in Semester 1 (October-December) and 75 hours in Semester 2 (January-May). This arrangement gives the students and mentors more flexibility to identify suitable interpreting assignments across a range of different areas.

The aim of the interpreting work placement is to:

  1. To give students the opportunity to access authentic ‘real-world’ interpreting situations
  2. To provide students with the opportunity to observe the professional practice of qualified interpreters at work
  3. To facilitate the opportunity for students to try interpreting in ‘real-world’ interpreting situations, in a safe and supported environment, where appropriate and with the agreement of all parties
  4. To enable students to discuss, critique and reflect on their observations of other interpreters and their own professional practice

Students have to keep a logbook of their observations, and write reflections about what they have learned. This experience equips the students with the skills needed to be reflective practitioners when they go on to work as interpreters.

Once more we would like to publicly acknowledge the interpreters that are giving their time, energy and commitment to supporting these students. Specifically, we thank the list of interpreters below who have agreed to take on students this year:

  1. Paul Belmonte (Edinburgh)
  2. Bruce Cameron (Glasgow)
  3. Andy Carmichael (Edinburgh)
  4. Lesley Crerar (Aberdeen)
  5. Andrew Dewey (Ayr)
  6. Shaurna Dickson (Edinburgh)
  7. Linda Duncan (Fife)
  8. Helen Dunipace (Glasgow)
  9. Marion Fletcher (Edinburgh)
  10. Eddie Foley (Glasgow)
  11. Donna Jewell (Falkirk)
  12. Sheena MacDonald (Edinburgh)
  13. Brenda Mackay (Fife)
  14. Rachel Mapson (Edinburgh)
  15. Paula Marshall (Denny)
  16. Robert McCourt (Glasgow)
  17. Mary McDevitt (Falkirk)
  18. David Milligan (Glasgow)
  19. Nicolle Murdoch (Edinburgh)
  20. David Summersgill (Dunbar)
  21. Linda Thomson (Glasgow)
  22. Yvonne Waddell (Hamilton)

Again we would like to thank the support of SASLI and NRCPD who have endorsed that interpreters can received Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points for acting as mentors.

The students on placement in 2016-2017 are:

  1. Jenna Adams
  2. Sarah Forrester
  3. Amy Hunter
  4. Tanja Jacobs
  5. Christina Kunz
  6. Tommy Malone
  7. Marnie Radmer
  8. Kristina Tandl
  9. Isla Van der Heiden
  10. Sabine Zielinska

We would like to thank Deaf BSL users in Scotland for their continued support of our students, and hope that you will encourage them in their efforts to develop their skills to become professional interpreters.

Foundation Students do Real Research

by Olwyn Alexander  

Teaching English for Academic Purposes (EAP) is about more than developing students’ English language and study skills; it also involves Academic Purposes, i.e. research and scholarship. I’ve been interested for some time in ways to develop the research capability of students with an intermediate level of English proficiency (CEFR B1, IELTS 4.5). I got the opportunity to explore this further with a revision of the Heriot-Watt Foundation English programme, in which the research component is foregrounded. Students now develop their language proficiency within the context of research in their discipline. This required a fundamental rethink about how to present the research process for intermediate level language learners, going back to first principles for research.

I started by asking the Foundation students what they were curious about in their discipline and we noted that children are natural researchers because they are curious about the world. From typical questions children ask, we derived some fundamental questions about research in the disciplines:

For science and engineering

  • What exists?
  • How does it come to exist?
  • What does it do?

For social science

  • What do people think about what exists?
  • Why do people behave the way they do?

We then characterised the concept of research by looking at published definitions and decided that there were four key components:

  • A concept – an abstract idea that forms the basis for a piece of research
  • A real world context in which to study the concept
  • A problem or puzzle in the context that relates to the concept
  • A question that links the concept to the problem in the context.

The research question formulates the problem in a focused way that enables it to be researched and thus to move the discipline forward. Some examples of Foundation students’ research questions:

  • What is the minimum concentration of a chemical pollutant in an indoor environment required to model it accurately?
  • How can Shunfeng [a Chinese logistics company] develop its third party logistics operation effectively?

Foundation students can use the framework to access key ideas in complex research articles. They explore the research activity of members of their discourse community and characterize their research using the same framework. They share their findings in class discussions and complete an assessment task to profile a researcher. All the time, they are expanding their repertoire of academic vocabulary and grammar structures.

The students, all postgraduates, have found the experience to be highly motivating. Just because they have a low language proficiency does not mean they cannot grapple with complex academic concepts as long as these are presented in accessible language.

The challenge for teachers is to operate well outside their comfort zone to engage with ideas their students find motivating but they may find incomprehensible. Is it asking too much of teachers to work in this way?

RADAR project update

The RADAR national workshops took place between April and June 2016. As part of Workstream 3, six national workshops were organised in the partner countries (Italy, Finland, The Netherlands, Poland, Greece and the UK) to test the training approach and material developed.

The UK workshop “From hate speech to hate communication: How racism is produced and reflected through communicative practices” took place on 16-17 June 2016 (16 hours in total) at the Esmée Fairbairn building in Heriot-Watt. The workshop, led by Dr Katerina Strani, with Rania Qussasi, Eloisa Monteoliva and Emma Hill, was intensive but very successful. Among the 28 participants were social workers, equality and diversity experts, police officers, project workers, volunteers, students and teachers. The first day included a short presentation of the project’s aims, followed by a session on terminology – unpacking salient terms. The discussion focused on the challenges of creating a vocabulary of ‘race’-related terms, as well as the concepts of whiteness, white privilege, racialisation and colourism. After lunch, we presented the findings of our interviews in terms of experiences of racism and hate crime. This was followed by a session on laws and judgments in the UK (mainly Scotland and England) related to racism, racial discrimination, hate crime etc. The second day was more hands-on and it consisted entirely of group work. The question of representation was probed during an analysis of written texts and newspaper articles, social media posts, advertising images and videos. The end of the workshop was marked with a round-table discussion on challenges with regard to the rise of hate communication and how to use what we have learned in the workshop in the workplace and everyday life.

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The workshop received very positive feedback and this was also a great networking opportunity for people working with migration, community relations, minority ethnic groups, xenophobia, racism or intercultural communication in general.

Next, the RADAR international workshop and final conference took place on 12-14 September in Perugia. Drawing on the knowledge and expertise gained from the local pilot events, the international workshop brought together all RADAR partners and their external experts for the purposes of drafting the general RADAR recommendations and guidelines as the final deliverable of the project. The UK team was represented by Katerina Strani with Rania Qussasi as the external expert. The final conference took place in Palazzo Donini, Regione Umbria, and was very well attended by academics and community representatives. It presented the RADAR project results and the draft guidelines, which were discussed at a round table. Katerina Strani  with Maria Fountana and Stavroula Sokoli presented a paper on “Attitudes to ‘race’ in the media: Evidence from the UK and Greece”. Katerina also presented 2 posters at the conference: i) with Emma Hill on “Critical ‘race’-related vocabulary in the UK” and ii) with Emma Hill on “AntiRacism and AntiDiscrimination Laws and Judgments in RADAR partner countries”.

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The 24-month project ends in November 2016. You can have a look at the project’s outputs so far if you register on the RADAR platform.

@RADARproject    #RADARproject

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Project-Radar-Just2013fracag6271-370112223154383/?ref=hl

Contact: Katerina Strani

 

Heriot-Watt and University of North Florida Cultural and Linguistic Exchange

by Stacey Webb

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For a BSL version of this post, please click here

I have been working in collaboration with Dr. Suzanne Ehrlich from the University of North Florida (UNF) on a linguistic and cultural exchange opportunity between some of our respective interpreting students. The project was designed to provide an expansive experience in our field of interpreting as well as increasing cultural awareness while exploring Scotland.  Students had the opportunity to connect with leaders, community members and other sign language interpreting students. One of the major highlights of the trip was being able to participate in Critical Link 8, themed “a new generation” aimed at future proofing the profession.

I am personally grateful to all the people who helped make this week a success and I hope that it was a memorable experience for everyone. I first got to meet the American students from UNF the over the previous weekend, where they got to experience some Scottish sunshine..some Scottish rain and of course farmers markets, bagpipes and the castle!  Edinburgh is a beautiful city, and I loved seeing them take in the place I have made my home.  To wrap your head around of what this experience included here is a recap of the week:

Monday June 27:  Students both ASL and BSL had been eagerly awaiting the introduction of the buddies.  All students were put into pairs! Although we didn’t expect them to be “buddy/buddy” or think that friendships would form over night, we wanted to make sure they knew that they had at least one person to go to with questions, comments and concerns but also to engage in collaborative reflection with. We provided some thought provoking questions to ask each other as well as several activities throughout the day that we hoped would initiate conversations around sign languages and the interpreting profession in both American and Scottish contexts. Students from UNF and HW met for the first time at the Edinburgh Business School Cafe (EBS).  We figured coffee and bacon rolls can only make a day start a little brighter!  After a brief induction, the tutors left the students to find their way to their classes.  Students were then provided a brief introduction to the language of the other country.

Heriot-Watt’s Gary Quinn spent two hours with the American students teaching them some basic communication strategies in BSL, while Suzanne Erhlich, from UNF, and I taught the local HW students some American Sign Language.  These language introductions went over really well, and students were eager to begin practicing with their buddies.  After these initial classes, Yvonne Waddle, Heriot-Watt PhD student and local BSL/English Interpreter, volunteered her time to the students to teach Scottish words and phrases.  It was important to show the students just how different English speaking countries are- yes they may share a similar language, but there are so many words, phrases, and cultural rhetoric that is actually not shared across the ocean.  People often assume that when you move to an English speaking country it will be just like home- and from my own personal experience, I can assure them it is not! This class was a hit amongst the students, and I caught a few of them using their new Scottish words and phrases throughout the rest of the week!

Fanny Chouc, from the French section, assisted us by running a mini conference that focused on the pros and cons of technology.  Mavis Lasne, PhD student participated in the conference and gave a speech in Chinese, where MSC student volunteers ,interpreted her speech into English, and our students then interpreted it into ASL and BSL.  Interventions were also provided in BSL, ASL and English.

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Yes, it was a jam packed and we are not even close to being done yet! After the mini conference,  students were sent off for some reflection time- clear set time to be without teaching and without their tutors. They could meet with their buddies and use the time to “soak it all in”, make mental notes of what they learned from the day, and ultimately get to know each other. Heriot-Watt has a beautiful grounds and I am sure many of their paths have been a source of inspiration amongst many of our students and staff.

Later that evening, students headed to the city centre, where we embarked on a private tour city  tour with Sandemans New Edinburgh Tours .  We invited friends from the Deaf Community, some local and some from abroad abroad.  A local interpreter, Katy Smilie, volunteered her time to interpret the tour into BSL, and I worked into ASL.  We learned stories of Deacan Broadie, Maggie Dixon, and Greyfriars Bobby- a true Edinburgh experience!  Thanks to Brian Marshall, he was also able to share with us (and the guide) the location of the first Deaf Club, and even pointed out the grave site of Walter Giekie, a famous Edinburgh Artist and former star pupil of the Braidwood school. It was fantastic to have Deaf locals on our tour.

We then headed to the Grassmarket for dinner.  All 30 of us made it to the Beehive Inn and I have to take a moment to thank the staff, as they were all fantastic! I am personally grateful to them as I know it can be difficult to manage such a large group.

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Tuesday 28 June:  You thought Monday was packed….  On Tuesday morning, we embarked on a tour with Rabbies on a all day excursion of Scotland.  With two busses full,  the students and invited members from the Deaf Community made there way to Dunkleld, Hermitage waterfalls, Pitlochry, the Queen’s View, Loch Tay/Kenmore and ended at The Famous Grouse Distillery.

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We owe a big thank you to the UNF students for making this tour possible. Ultimately the 6 students on this trip funded the opportunity for all of the HW students and Deaf Community members attend without cost of their own.  This is great example of reciprocity, a value that we hope remains with each one of our students as they continue to navigate their futures as professional sign language interpreters.

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This trip was also special for me on a personal level; my first interpreter educator was also on board, Melissa Smith, from San Diego, California.  She has inspired me as both an interpreter and an educator.  To  be able to introduce her to my own students was was incredibly meaningful.

The tour took us to some really beautiful places. Katy Smilie again, volunteered to interpret, but also the students tried their best interpreting from time to time to keep communication accessible.  It was truly a lovely day; and has Robbie Burns once said, “Wherever I wander, where ever I rove, the hills of the Highlands for ever I love.”

 

Wednesday 28 June-  Friday 1 July:  Critical Link!!! One of the main reasons this week was selected for this linguistic and cultural exchange was that Critical LInk 8 was being held in the James Watt Centre at Heriot-Watt University. I have heard nothing but amazing things about this conference, so the students were not only the ones excited to go.  Personally, I feel it is really important for students to go ahead and attend professional conferences, especially international ones, to truly jump start their professional journeys. It is in these contexts, students are engaged in true experiential learning- where they see that all of the “stuff” their tutors are trying so hard to teach them is real and meaningful to the professionals and not simply “stuff” you learn for the sake of being a student.

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The Conference provided interpreting in British Sign Language and International Sign Language, additionally, there were other sign languages in use (e.g. American Sign Language and Norwegian Sign Language), which provided students even more insight to how different sign languages are from country to country. They were also starstruck- the names they have only read in books, journal articles and seen/heard about in lectures came to life.

Me:  “Did you know you were just sitting by Debra Russell?”

Student: “I was?! Stacey, I feel like I am at Disneyland!”

Other students came up to me and told me how many people they had met.  Talking to them you would think they were actually in Hollywood! It truly was special, because if you are going to have any celebrity idols- I think the ones in our profession are pretty great!

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To celebrate the success of our week, we headed for one last dinner together.  Toasts of thanks, laughter and even a few tears the students were delighted with the week.  To top the evening off, Franz Pöchhacker joined us at Checkpoint in Edinburgh!

The week was perfect blend of sign language, interpreting, deaf community and other  professionals within the field of interpreting/translation (spoken and signed).  Friendships were formed and memories were made.  One of the students from UNF shared with me that the experience was in fact  “life changing”– and that is why we teach, right? Yes, that is why we go above and beyond to create meaningful learning experiences for our students. I am so thankful to everyone who helped make this week great, your efforts are much appreciated and please know they made a direct impact on the 13 students who participated in this exchange!

In closing..

So as you can see the Heriot-Watt BSL section has been busy!

Over the past several months staff, students and the local Deaf community have been meeting on the 3rd Tuesday of the Month for a meal.  We have been going to Entwine, however, recently it has closed down.  I am working on finding a new place and I think we will be meeting at CheckPoint, but will keep you all posted via Facebook.

As always, remember it takes a village to raise a sign language and in staying with the critical link 8 theme, we humbly invite you to join us in future proofing the next generation of interpreters.