Students, Faculty Collaborate for News Translation 

Society of Professional Journalists and Weiss Language Center Join Forces

Already known as a school friendly to international students, Marist has made it even easier for students of different backgrounds to find their niche. The Marist Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the Weiss Language Center have begun collaborating on writing articles and translating them into different languages so that everyone can enjoy and learn from them.

The idea started from the mind of one international student, Lenni Amaya, back when he was in high school. During that time, he would write articles in Spanish for a special column that was dedicated to issues regarding Spanish-speaking students. “Since then, I believed that I could do the same at Marist,” Amaya said. “However, this time I wanted more languages to be involved.” With the help of the Weiss Language Center, Dr. Kevin Gaugler, and Professor Romero, he was able to make it possible but had to find a media outlet. That was how SPJ became involved.

Shannon Donohue ’17, Director of Communications for SPJ and Co-News Editor for The Circle, met Joya on a United Nationals club trip to the UN headquarters in NYC. The two began talking about the various communication outlets available through Marist's Media Hub and Amaya brought up the idea of integrating and promoting news articles written in different languages.

“I loved the idea and wanted to get it off the ground as soon as possible,” Donohue said. Because of Amaya’s involvement in the Weiss Language Center, the two decided to reach out to international students and faculty associated there to get them involved in the project as well. “Language barriers can be very hard to overcome, especially in a college setting,” Donohue added. “We want to make sure everyone on campus has a voice.”

After initial discussions, it was decided that the project was best suited for SPJ since the group focuses on national and international affairs. “Since this column aims to widen students’ worldviews, SPJ was the best platform,” Donohue explained. “SPJ was very welcoming to the idea and helped us to optimize the editorial process from the start.”

The main goal of the culture column is to expand diversity and voice more opinions in native languages. “It is impressive how languages can connect more than one audience, and that’s one of the reasons this column exists,” Amaya said. 

Foreign languages that have been featured so far include French, Spanish, and Italian but Donohue assures that there are even more to come. Topics for these articles range from culture to language to politics and more. “Who better to talk about these topics than someone who is from the country or at least studying abroad there?” Amaya said. “Through different perspectives in different languages, I am sure that we can show how diverse Marist is.”

The editorial process is thorough but exciting. All articles are written in English by either an international student or an English-speaking student. Next, Donohue edits the piece in conjunction with the author in order to ensure that the writer’s voice isn’t lost. From there, the article is translated by an international student and then sent for proofreading by a foreign language professor with fluency in that language. “It’s a huge team effort and definitely worth it,” Donohue said. “We’re very proud of how much we’ve accomplished thus far and can’t wait to see how this project plays out in the future.”

Donohue cites several benefits of the culture column for international students. “It benefits these students because it allows them to voice their opinions about the international affairs that directly affect them, and then share that perspective with the Marist community on a platform that they did not have prior to this project,” she said. “They also get a crash course in American journalism while sharpening their translation and editing skills.”

Topics that have been covered so far include a French-language article about the Paris attacks and an Italian-language article about the Syrian refugee immigration crisis. These articles are published every two weeks in order to give time for the editorial process. Throughout the semester, Donohue and Amaya anticipate even more issues and languages covered.

For other Marist students, the culture column allows them to look at international affairs with a different mindset, which ties back to the goal of the column: to illustrate how diverse and globally-minded the Marist population truly is. 

Written by Adriana Belmonte '17

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