McGill Students Help Others

2013-2014 Issue 2

At the School of Continuing Studies (SCS), two education-driven initiatives foster connections between our students and the Montreal community. Both help to open doors to new knowledge and experiences for both parties, and both involve language.

“Anyone can come and ask questions about anything at Brainy Bar,” says Chantal Tittley, Chair of the McGill Community for Lifelong Learning (MCLL) Curriculum Committee.

At two-hour sessions, MCLL seniors consult tech-savvy international students, studying in SCS’s Intensive English – Language and Culture (IELC) program, for one-on-one help with new technology. Louise Kyrtatas, Assistant Coordinator, IELC, helped to develop the project in collaboration with MCLL.

Min Jin, a student from China, helped MCLL members to solve problems with laptops, iPads, cellphones and even digital cameras. “We don’t just answer questions. We talk with the seniors.

“As newcomers, we’re curious about everything, and the seniors are good conversation partners. They listen and explain everything to you. From there, I got to know about Canadian politics, history, taxes and many interesting things. It really helped me to adapt to my new environment.”

At Brainy Bar, part of MCLL’s Tech Savvy program, André Monette, 74, learned how to incorporate YouTube videos into a Powerpoint presentation for his study group.

“The experience is very positive,” says Monette. “Since English is the language of technology, the students have to master it, and they’ve done very well.”

While most seniors have tech-savvy grandchildren, they feel more comfortable learning in this environment, says Tittley. “And there’s reciprocity in the process.”

Participating in Community Outreach

Dr. James Archibald, Director, Translation & Written Communication (TWC), selects qualified graduate translation students for internships at Montreal businesses, community groups or cultural institutions. This year, students have participated in at least two community outreach projects.

Ingrid Birker, Coordinator of Science Outreach and Public Programs, Redpath Museum, finds “interns are more personally involved and engaged, because they usually know about us and want to work here. I enjoy working with them. They appreciate the nuances, and nothing gets lost in translation.”

Birker has shepherded two interns this year. One has translated display labels for an upcoming exhibition on African biodiversity. The other has developed a French version of Brownwyn Chester’s booklet Leafy Legacy, a guide to McGill campus trees.

Translating the booklet was challenging, because botanical terms were highly technical, says Johanne Lamoureux, a TWC student. She had to translate and confirm over 50 native and exotic tree names in three languages: English, French and Latin.

“Working on this project, I felt I was contributing to the French McGill community and Montreal at large,” she says. “Now, when my Mom comes to visit, we will be able to stroll through the campus and discover the trees together.”

At CKUT, McGill’s community radio station, Marianne Diuzet helped to translate half of the Blue Book, a huge policy manual that details the strict regulations for CKUT’s daily operations.

Some of CKUT’s French-speaking volunteers aren’t able to get a full grasp of procedures from the English manual, says Nicole Ebert, CKUT Funding and Outreach Coordinator. The translation will help them to develop French-language programming, such as short radio features or segments for weekly news magazines and First Nations programs.

“I learned a lot about radio,” says Diuzet. “I also learned how to regulate my own work. I have a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses, and I grew more confident,” she says. “It made me happy to know that it’s useful.”

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