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ESF 2006 : Volunteer Selection Discussion email

ADDITION: AUGUST 6: for Julie S's contribution, please see next wikipage: Esf06SelectionDiscussionDigest

Document to be finalized on Friday July 1. Then:
Send for translation
July 8
Open the Babels forums dedicated to this discussion
Publish it on the website
Short version sent as an email to all volunteers who clicked ESF06

Decision to take

We cannot obvioulsy held a real discussion in "all" languages. Choices of languages are therefore a decision we need to take. In the version hereafter the option was taken to hold this discussion in two languages only. We can nevertheless imagine than other languages could be helpfull. Maybe DE and FR (corresponding to foreign/passive languages of many especially in Central Europe) maybe other languages.
If you feel like another language is needed then change the document after. By doing so, you also commit to the fact that you will be able to follow and participate during two monthes to the dicussion in the Babels Forum then report back. It is essential that people commit to facilitate the discussion and pass ideas and proposals from one language discussion to another... Therefore adding languages will be also a commitment on your part to facilitate the discussion in the language you feel rightfull to add.

Short intro to be sent to all registered in ESF Babels Project

Thank you for having shown your interest in the Babels Project for the next European Social Forum. We want the organisation of interpretation to be as participatory as possible so that we can all work TOGETHER and more efficiently during the forum in Athens which will take place from DATE to DATE 2006.

To start this participatory process, we propose to have an open discussion on the method to be used to select interpreters. This discussion will take place on the Babels forum between July and September 2005. What method and what criteria will we use to select our colleagues and boothmates for the next ESF? We want to establish a transparent and efficient protocol by the second half of September so that we can start the actual selection of interpreters soon after.

We propose to hold this discussion in English and in Greek which are the two pivotal languages of the next ESF and which will most probably be present in all the conference rooms.

- Discussion in Greek
(link to the Forum)
- Discussion in English
(link to the Forum)

More information [link to the website]


Intro (see above) + development (publish on the website and in the Forum as a first post)

We are aware that there are other topics that we want and will discuss. But we feel they can come at a later date. In particular we need to assess together the issue of languages (probably in September-October), we need to assess together the issue of the working conditions (probably in November-December).

The selection process is very central to any Babels project. It needs to be open, self-explanatory, transparent and should correspond to political choices. Babels is not a travel agent, is not a free service and is not a group of self-proclaimed organizers. We need to share responsibility and we need to share also the work involved by the decisions we make together. At the end we need to provide a quality of work in order to enable people, groups and so on to communicate, exchange ideas, build plans of action, analyze… We will achieve this as a group not as individuals.

- Booth Diversity.

The idea is to mix professional and non-professional (one issue is the ratio between the two or rather between experienced and non-experienced people). There are numerous draw-backs and numerous positive consequences linked with this decision. Some of you have the experience of it already (some positive and other negative).

There are many ideas which emerged from past experiences: to help non-professional prepare themselves at home or during meetings thanks to videos of past Social Forum speeches and written transcript, to favor informal small meetings all over, next to your home, with professionals in order for them to evaluate if they could or not work in a booth with this or that person, to organize all over Europe informal meetings with organizations participating to the next ESF in order for them to present their work, their concepts and so on. (these idea could even set a pre-condition for non-professional and/or non-experienced to be selected, for instance if they participated to organized preparation sessions, or for professional and/or experienced people to be selected, if they have been active during the process, trying for instance to meet once non-professional and/or non-experienced to help identified some. Of course all this is to be discussed)

Whatever are the solutions we need to be aware that accepting this principle is to accept also to find and organize ways to share expertise (political knowledge and simultaneous interpreting techniques). If Babels is not a school or a formation center, it could be an opportunity to share concerns, tips, experiences and evaluate one another.

- Geographic Diversity.

People committed to this project and able to be up to their commitment (see above), will come from various locations all over Europe and maybe from other parts of the world. We will share openly the same limited budget. Therefore proximity from Athens is also a way to allow people from more remote places to come. This European Social Forum process will try to insist on the participation of Central and Oriental Europe, not forgetting Turkey. It seems therefore very natural to follow the political commitment of the ESF. There will be a question of languages that we will have to discuss as proposed at a later date. But the decisions we need to take now is not solely about languages, it is about the location where you will come from.

Depending on travel fares of course (but buses and/or boats -group travels- can be organized maybe instead of planes, from certain locations) we can favor this or that areas of the vast geography of the ESF including Middle-East and the Mediterranean region. Several points are still blurry. Nevertheless we can now decide on one “ ideal geography”: Our Babels Map.

In order to do so, we need for instance to speak about the fact to allow or not professional or very-experienced people (willing of course to do so) to work with their B language (from mother tongue or a well understood foreign language into a completely fluent foreign language). This could mean for instance that a Czech could come from Prague not only as an interpreter of Czech from French and English, but maybe as an interpreter of French from English and Czech. We know this is not in the European interpreting culture. But it was done in other non-European projects. We need therefore to discuss this.

We have to draw a map together also. If Athens and Greece is the center, within this center we feel for instance that Turkey and all countries sharing a physical border with Greece are part of it as well. We feel also that the first circle around this center could be made out of Central and Oriental European countries and Middle East. Therefore the last circle would encompass all the rest of Europe and some other parts of the world. This means for instance that we are talking about 50% of us coming from the “center”, 30% coming from the first circle and 20% coming from the “second one”. We know that, because of the Babels network history, mobilization is an issue in the “center” and the “first circle” from which at the moment a small number of people participated in the diverse past projects. Therefore we need also to speak about this and set a deadline to evaluate the situation.

- Experience Diversity

We are the fourth Babels ESF project. Therefore an already large number of people participated directly to past ESFs (between 1,000 – 1,500 persons to be exact).We need their help. We need their commitment to facilitate the identification of new persons, explain their experience and so on. At the same time we can think of favoring from the same location people identified but who could not participate in previous ESF. We do not want to build a “club”. Experienced people are nevertheless essential for many obvious reasons. They represent our common wealth. At the same time it cannot be “the same all the time” and we need to open this exceptional experience to others. In this respect can we, if coming from the same location, discuss the fact that we arrive of some type of proportion between us, like for instance 40% with one or several previous ESF participation and 60% without.

We feel that these three political and practical points (and maybe some other if in the discussion they appear) can draw therefore a possible framework of a Selection Protocol, which is the central part of the project we will try to build and achieve together. Please participate.

(links to the various Forums again)

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