Last edited by EileenLaurie
Sun, 26 Oct 2008 22:04 CET [diff]

General Organisational Issues

1. summary of what I tried to do (*prior to the ESF*)

General coordination/organizational issues

α talked/wrote to Sophie about general issues on organizing interpretation for a social forum, emphasizing what I thought were the most difficult:

1. lack of trust from the Organizing Committee 2. communication problems (internal - within babels, external - with the OC, organizations, delegates, participants, new potential babelistas, etc) 3. logistics issues (mobilization, training, selection, travel, accommodation, planning, reimbursement, etc, etc, etc) – reminding that each new experience/project is a brand new world and past examples don’t necessary work in the new context/situation

ω (in)conclusions: the issues of a. hosting country/place and “person in charge” at the office being over over over overloaded (especially if it’s only one) b. (non-existent) relation with the Organizing Committee and c. communication problems at all levels remain the most difficult ones. Also, not having “more precise/organized/concrete” memory/documents, guidelines/defined tasks seems to be an issue as well (it’s difficult to be horizontal!), and the disregard of the OC towards Alis* and us hindered our participation

* I sent a message on this, but briefly: Alis is a separate body and the OC, more precisely Francisco, was in charge of Alis/equipment/booths. If it is fair or good to render an irresponsible body/person responsible for Alis equipment without following/controlling what will be done with it and how is another discussion, as well as the issue of demanding the minimum conditions and guarantees regarding booths/equipment might be something Babels has to include in the list of requets/plan (see 4. below)

-> action points for future projects: have a clear plan from the very beginning (when drafting the budget, for example, draft also the step by step) both for Babels and OC (conditions and procedures, what to do, by whom/working groups, when/deadlines)

α suggested we didn’t hold physical meetings (Scandinavia or Europe), unless extremely necessary, for there were budgetary issues, and had skype meetings instead

ω (in)conclusions: although we saved money and until a certain extent time, I think it is more than important to have some (let’s say 2 or 3) European physical meetings, and some local meetings (every week and every 15 days with the OC, for ex.). Although skype meetings were necessary, they were also too time-consuming and perhaps not always practical (not everybody could read the minutes and would come to a meeting asking about issues already discussed, don’t know how the action points would really be fulfilled, last minute cancelations, etc)

-> action points for future projects: count on a minimum number of general and local meetings, having skype meetings in between

α as I couldn’t help Sophie with information and training meetings throughout Scandinavia, I suggested she invited other babelistas to join, since some tickets to Stockholm or Gothenburg were cheaper than my train ticket to one of these cities

ω (in)conclusions: no one was available

-> action points for future projects: it is something we should think about, both for mobilization, training, and selection; plan local and European information/mobilization tours (to where EPA’s are held and to places there is no coordination or people can’t help to a certain project, as was the case of DE, EN, ES booths)

α drafted a timeline

ω (in)conclusions: found it quite useless, since we couldn’t follow it (and I doubt someone had a look at it…)

-> action points for future projects: have it from the beginning together with a working plan, follow and assess how the action points/deadlines are or aren’t being met

α drafted the contents of the interpreters’ pack

ω don’t think it was useful (doubt anyone had a look at it)

-> action points for future projects: although I always defend not feeding interpreters too much, I think it is very important and nice to involve them in local life, including useful information, cultural stuff, interesting facts, etc (see point 4.)

α proposed an utility/usefulness questionnaire

ω (in)conclusions: too late; due to other more urgent problems probably it was of no use for this forum

-> action points for future projects: assess the real needs – why some interpreters work too much and others almost don’t work (in malmö’s case the lacking of booths played a critical role on this, but it was not new). Would more people come if they knew well in advance interpretation for their language will be provided? etc. Think about better external communication – organizations/delegates/participants, not only through registration form, seeking for even closer contact with them; 'campaigns' about language diversity and possibilities, to let people know about it


α spread the word here and there, sent messages, contacted people; drafted an “external call” to mobilize new people; “reactivated” transtrad* having this call and the call for coordinators (see below) translated into some 20 languages, which we may adapt and use for future projects

* although Greg has been working with transtrad I feel we should have some people focused on it, and why not, relating it with lexicons (hopefully Eileen and Giulia :-))

ω (in)conclusions: didn’t do it in a really systematic way, should’ve started before and been more “methodic” (sending to each and every university and interpretation/translation college, school, institute, institution, etc)

-> action points for future projects: think about plan to better reach the given OC, organizations and participants and get more people involved in mobilization. Transtrad is a great tool, but takes a loooooot of time, we should think about “organizing it” and having some sort of “transtrad protocol”, so that we don’t have to deal with hundreds of emails. In any case, responsiveness was impressive, people really wanted the calls to be translated into their language (not only EN, ES, FR, IT, DE), wanted to make it work, correct possible mistakes/proofread, like the transtrad I got to know years ago!


α preparation of the selection process

i drafted a call for coordinators with María Brander

ii suggested “more transparent/shared” (i), “closer” and “more careful/coordinated” selection, as linguistic needs were “defined” quite “early” (thanks German and Julie!), to better match linguistic needs and linguistic combinations

iii wrote the drafts for “conditions and procedures” messages (selection, travel) as discussed at skype meetings, which Sophie edited and concluded according to the situation/context, as an attempt to avoid more problems due to heterogeneity and diversity (diverse is beautiful, but it’s not easy when it comes to having some sort of organization!) and have a more uniform process/method for selection, travel, reimbursement

iv suggested broadening the diversity of languages (especially minoritized ones), according to some information I got about Basque and Macedonian participants

ω (in)conclusions:

i As for “more transparent/shared” selection, although calling more people to help with coordination was/is extremely necessary (as discussed at some skype meetings), potential newbies/people who answered the call either didn’t understand or got confused - we know it takes time to get used to Babels modus operandi… the main (but not only) purpose of the call was to have a more transparent selection process (more people involved, new people, etc), but in the end I think only Giulia Colletti :-) did help (correct me guys, if someone else is missing!)

ii the selection process as a whole has been complicated due to various issues:

a. no coordinators or not *enough* coordinators for most of the booths (apart from FR and IT booths who always do a great job :-) Barunka, Bálint were working on their own, for ex., and then Lina and Sophie did emergency selection with Maria’s, Marta’s, Cathy’s, Erika’s, Julie’s, Greg’s and Barunka’s help. Please help me if someone else is missing!)
b. trying to have it more transparent and organized took too long and was confusing (I imagine some people like Manuel Souto Pico, Virginia, Dawid, David and Andrea couldn’t help, for ex.)
c. relying that we would find most of the interpreters in Scandinavia
d. vacation/cancelations

In any case, I think we should add to any protocol the issue of “de-selecting” people, and why not have a selection protocol/didactiselection ;-) ?

As for “closer selection”, like Barunka and Bálint :-) did, I have been insisting on it forever. If only all coordinations could do this (meet, have interviews, or do it during sit-prep/training)! On the other hand, due to the lack of time, enough people to help, more interested people (who answers e-mails or go to meetings/sit-prep/training/interviews) it can be quite limited (if we need more people for a certain booth, for ex.)

As for having a “more careful/coordinated selection”, proposing a better coordinators’ coordination, it seems time, not enough people and perhaps lack of interest prevented us from doing it

iii as for trying to have a more uniform method/process for selection, travel, reimbursement (as discussed at skype meetings) confirming, travel, reimbursement, to try to have some sort of organization (based on past experiences/issues), made me think of four issues:

a. sending excel files to “coordinators” (when there were that is, FR, IT, TR, and then CS/SK, RU, HU) proved too time consuming, not really feasible and perhaps not practical, in the case new people should register starting selection before (FR booth)
b. waiting for “commands” (TR booth)
The lack of guidelines and access lead to lack of precise “rules” and the impossibility of descentralized selection (if a certain booth doesn’t have the list of interpreters of a given project how is it supposed to start the selection process?)
c. starting selection before agreeing on selection, travel, reimbursement criteria (FR booth)
Personally I am not against starting some steps, on the contrary, such as exporting and filtering the project’s database, pre-selecting, contacting, interviewing – something only *the selection group* should do, for organizational purposes, *but not start confirming people* or not do it without following the agreed criteria (of course it may vary from project to project)
d. trying to have some sort of organization X disorganization – demanding/promising X not fulfilling
If we cannot fulfill what we promise/are supposed to, we should not promise at all (especially regarding organization and reimbursement)

iv As for diversity, it seems it was also a bit difficult to match needs or “convince” participants (see below proposal of utility/usefulness questionnaire), although it also seems there were better feedback from organizations (thanks Julie!)

-> action points for future projects: see point 4. below!!!

2. What I didn’t do and was supposed/wanted to/said I would do

α internal information/communication/education/knowledge transmission

i uploading Ali’s comments to “coordinators’ guidelines” or to “how to (try) to...”

ii improving “how to (try) to…” (in which there is the issue of room coordinator, whose tasks/specifications I was supposed to summarize)

iii room coordination – enlist specifications (ii), train and coordinate room coordinators

iv feedback (call for coordinators and transtrad)

v babels activity

ω (in)conclusions:

i didn’t manage to upload it before the ESF

ii as for “how to (try) to…”, although some of these guidelines seem too simple or fool, we have seen the same issues for years now and my proposal was that all coordis (newbies :-) and oldies) would add their comments, suggestions, changes, etc

iii I don’t know how the issue was approached, guess there were more urgent issues. if it has never worked, but th work falls on coordinators heads, what can we do about it?

iv didn’t make it/manage to answer many messages – of people who replied the call for coordinators touching another issues (“hey, I want to go to malmö!” and so on) and transtrad – of people who offered to translate the message even if I had already sent a message like (“we already have the translations for this, this and that language”) or touched another issue (“hey, I want to go to malmö!”)

v we (Julie, Rodrigo, Sophie, Amelia, malmo list) never talked about the babels activity again, which is a shame, and in the very end there was a proposal to take part in one activity with bask comrades with whom we held an activity in Athens, I forwarded it to Yan and María (I suppose), but it was already too late, we didn’t work on it together and although it would be interesting it would be senseless to do it this way, without no real involvement/coordination

-> action points for future projects:
i draft coordinators protocol/didacticoordi ;-)
ii draft organizing interpretation for social forums/plan protocol
iii think about it, so that the general coordinator(s) don’t have to worry about certain issues
iv although I always defend we maintain a degree of responsiveness, always answering e-mails, in this case have my doubts, the eternal question “until which extent should we feed/spoil the babies”; draft a transtrad protocol/didactranstrad ;-) to have it less time-consuming
v think more carefully and seriously about it next time

3. what I didn’t do and was not supposed to do, but would have liked to have done

α go to the ESF!!! :-(

α feed the website, upload skype minutes

α put into discussion/insist on some eternal issues such as:

i declaration of commitment form for all interpreters (together with selection and travel/reimbursement messages, for ex. see below comment on quality/accountability)

ii declarations for interpreters

iii politeness protocol/musts and mustn’ts (internal and external)

iv 'external policy' (or how to deal with 'non-babels' interpreters)

v autonomy over the budget

ω (in)conclusion/-> action point for future projects: didn’t manage to be present at the ESF for personal reasons (job, master), in the end also because travel expenses would be exorbitantly expensive and I didn’t find it fair
Felt that the site was quite empty for this forum (no practical/useful info, almost no reports, etc)

i I think we should discuss having some sort of “guarantee”, *only if we can fulfill the “promises”*, of course!
ii I think we should (again) try to reach some consensus or inform people from the beginning we can’t provide declarations!
iii don’t kow how it was this time, but certainly we should have “dos and don’ts” (regarding all! OC, office, coordinators, interpreters, speakers, participants! Let them know about it, of course, see comments on “education” below), perhaps for each area (“attacking” e-mails, de-selecting people, deleting others comments on wiki before agreeing on a deadline to do so, etc)
iv really think we should discuss it further. It’s not about limiting and trying to exclude or “own” interpreters, on the contrary… but being careful about it - I've seen interpreters who say they are volunteers, but that aren't; the planning issue might get confusing if there is miscommunication with those 'interpreters coming with certain organizations', etc, etc. Why are we organizing if it is to be “disorganized”, self-service or each one does what they want?

4. action points for the future

-> absolutely indispensable improving the relation/communication with (starting from the next EPA):

i IC, OC, organizations, (each new place/context/situation; each new OC)
- real participation/inclusion from the beginning – meetings, EPA; assuring things, trust - “conceptual letter” (what babels stands for, indispensable and non-negotiable conditions, etc) + “list of requests” (plan) to be approved/signed by the OC
- common work, information, mobilization

ii the office
- infrastructure, logistics, define clearly what is babels responsible for (everything written)
- define number of how many coordinators we need and levels of commitment (paid/unpaid): general coordination (at least 2!! ideally involving local people) + more local coordis to deal with each issue – clearer definition of roles/responsibilities, personal limits, availability, commitment, keeping in mind we are no corporation

iii babels
- how to share the workload between the host place <-> other coordinations – language/booth/country, interpreters, new potential babelistas, babels-tech, etc
- improve information/communication/transparency within babels (coordis<-> coordis, coordis<->interpreters)

iv alis
define what kind of relation and how to liase

v and, why not, speakers, delegations and participants (utility/usefulness questionnaire)

-> broadening pools of interpreters and coordinators, constant mobilization, strengthening coordinations ('hubs'), and improving the quality of selection

-> education/real knowledge transmission/didactibels :-) (thanks, María!)!!!

i understanding the different organizational bodies: WSF, ESF, IC, European organizations, OC, office, Babels, Alis…

ii “what is/how to be a coordinator”

- understanding babels
- understanding, improving and following protocols – why not, how to read babels protocols ;-) / didactiprotocols
- understanding and using babels communication tools – how to use babels tools/didactools ;-)
It’s absolutely necessary to
- 'centralize' them and make use of what babels already has (especially having one email for the given project, lists, database), even if including new ones (skype, googledocs, openesf, etc)
- more constant/long-term/permanent communication – especially feeding interpreters, answering their emails and sending them a 'selection is over, you haven’t been selected' message as we said (has it been done?) that is, keeping them informed, but in a way to try to make them more active, to make them look for information
- understanding and improving more permanent projects -> general (transtrad protocol/didactranstrad ;-) for coordinators and for translators); each new project, lexicons

iii improve:
- memory and “documentation” (share documents, reports/assessments, interviews, photos…)
- real knowledge transmission so as to have 'rotation' (otherwise we don't have enough people to organize a project); balance between feeding/spoiling interpreters/coodinators and making them “have initiative” and go after information, so as to have self-organized/more active coordis and interpreters
- improve acknowledge/self-awareness duties and rights – having more involved and participative interpreters (as much as possible, of course)
- interpreters and coordinators assessment AND personal limits, availability, commitment and accountability – what we want, what we do, what we get -> theory X practice, ideal/plan X reality/feasibility

-> organization/selection

i how the host place may really share the work with other coordinations and is not “left alone” before, during and after (especially regarding political issues, the relation with the OC, personal life, etc)

ii how could coordinations share the work to have 'closer selection'

iii how could coordinations share the work to have 'more transparent', 'careful', 'coordinated', 'joint' selection

iv be careful about selecting 'friends'/people we know; having discussions on coordinators and interpreters assessment, also being careful about relative/partial/opinion/personal experience – we all have good and bad experiences and it might relative (or unanimous ;-)). It’s great to have self-assessments, but this is also relative – people said they wouldn’t do and they did, people said they would and they didn’t do. The best is to try to be increasingly clearer about tasks, but always from a constructive point of view, and not “attacking” criticism with that “I-am-sure-I-would’ve-done-better” regard

v think about room coordination (or booth coordinators) so that 'general coordinators' (or interpreters!) don’t have to worry about certain issues (interpreter’s pack content, accreditation, water, food, missing interpreter, checking the situation about accommodation on the first two days etc), which leads me to…

vi … improving the means to avoid tourists (declaration of commitment, quality/auditory/assessment and accountability)

-> other logistic issues (proper accommodation, food quality, local transportation, t-shirts etc)…

-> next steps, projects, action points (what), people in charge (who/which working groups), methods, conditions and procedures (how) and deadlines (when)

We have already been discussing and trying to put into practice many 'new' suggestions (what doesn’t mean we can’t discuss them again and again ;-)) such as general coordination ('super coordinator') reports/assessments, knowledge transmission/trainings, language/booth/country coordinations (local 'hubs'), communication tools, financial independence (to which personally I prefer autonomy regarding the budget) – maybe not in a real systematic and practical way, so, why don’t we refresh them in our memories and write them down collectively???

-> -> -> proposition of a debriefing meeting (budget???) somewhere in February or March with real knowledge transmission – discussing a methodology to send a message on each issue/working group (general coordination, mobilization, sit-prep/training, selection, travel, accommodation, booth planning, etc, etc), contact people who have done it in the past, select people who seems to be willing and available to really get involved and committed, organize round tables and workshops and set up more permanent working groups at the meeting, to be continued, of course

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