Friday, June 11, 2010

"These translators are giving elements of their history, heritage, family, intellect, and wisdom.”

Robert Kennedy famously said, “Some men look at things the way they are and ask, “Why?” I dream of things that are not and ask, “Why not?” The thirteen volunteers of the American Red Cross in Greater New York’s Health & Safety Services Translation Team being honored with the 2010 Innovation Award looked at “things that are not,” asked, “Why not?” then made things happen—things that have had both a local and a global impact.

The team came into being in 2008, when Tiffany & Co., the New York jewelry firm, decided to implement the NY Red Cross’s Pandemic Preparedness program at all of its overseas facilities. Team members Jenny Chun, Clarissa Espinosa, Mario Fontenla, Shuhung Hong, Marsa Kindl-Omuse, Monica Mei, Elizabeth Musso, Diep Ngyuen, Carlos Rodríguez, Nancy Soto, Corina Stonebanks, Norika Takatsuka and Lily Too immediately set about translating the NY Chapter’s pandemic preparedness Instructor’s Manual and PowerPoint slide presentation into nine languages: Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Vietnamese. At about 100 pages for each course, that added up to many hours of work, which was completed in 2009.

After the translated materials arrived in the different countries, Web X conference courses for instructors using the translated manuals were held from the Chapter’s headquarters in Manhattan. Members of the translation team sat in to help out with any language problems, often doing so at night to account for time differences. These New York Red Cross classes have now been taught in China, Central and South America, Europe, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. And the team continues to translate material. Most recently, the “Be Red Cross Ready” preparedness program has been translated into Japanese.

The translation was an “extracurricular Red Cross activity,” said Health & Human Safety Account Executive Matt Conley, who oversaw the project. “Some of the volunteers did the work at home and had other family members vet it.

“These translators are giving elements of their history, heritage, family, intellect, and wisdom,” he continued. “They are creating something that will aid people in their homeland or the land of their ancestors.”

By greatly increasing the number of people who are touched by the Red Cross because they can teach and learn in their own language, the translation team truly has not only made the Greater New York Chapter more relevant to the community that we serve, it has spread the word about the importance of preparedness around the country—and the globe.

Recipients of the Innovation Award
Shuhung Hong from Queens, NY
Lily Too from Queens, NY
Corina Stonebanks from Manhattan, NY
Marsa Kindl-Omuse from Brooklyn, NY
Monica Mei from Bronx, NY
Noriko Takatsuka from Woodside, NY
Jenny Chun from Manhattan, NY
Diep Nguyen from Brooklyn, NY
Mario Fontenla from Flushing, NY
Carlos Rodriguez from Fairfield County, CT
Clarissa Espinosa from Flushing, NY
Nancy Soto from Brooklyn, NY
Elizabeth Musso from Paramus, NJ

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