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Research and Civic Engagement: Domestic Violence Translation Project

An undergraduate research project led directly to community service for Ashley Depew '14 and Hannah Harker '14.

These Spanish education majors spent their Spring 2012 semester translating documents from Canton's Domestic Violence Project into Spanish.

"It's a lot more complex than you would think when you first begin," Harker says. "There are so many variables."


Pictured: Adviser Julia VillaseƱor with Depew and Harker.

The women worked together to understand the entire context for the texts they were translating, for example, if the materials were providing legal advice, they then needed to research and understand legal terms in English before making them comprehensible in Spanish.

They learned that if the documents were offering consoling wisdom to people in violent situations, they needed to determine the appropriate tone - formal or informal. Understanding their audience was critical to knowing how to craft the copy for the documents. Not only would potential readers likely need certain kinds of empathy, but they would also have a particular cultural dialect that influenced the Spanish dialect they knew.

"It can be really hard to find the things you're looking for. Sometimes it sends you on a rabbit trail," says Harker.

But, as Malone faculty would note, seeking is at the heart of research - it is in seeking answers and solutions that the deepest learning occurs. What begins in the classroom, becomes real in collaborative research, and then lives in tangible service to a hurting world.

"Translation is about both the process and the product, and it's worth it, " Depew says. "[The finished pieces are] going to help them so much when it's done."