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Program Impact: Removing Barriers Through Translation

Screenshot of a Student to World online course in Arabic

For many years, our capacity was limited to offering programming in English only, which in turn, limited access for youth in rural and under-resourced schools around the world where English fluency is less common. This also impacted the experiences of youth participants who were comfortable learning in English but not fully able to express themselves in spoken or written English during peer exchanges.

With the growing availability – and sophistication – of services like Google Translate in the past few years, we began to encourage students who were sharing their stories on our Global Peer Story repository or were reading others’ stories from that library, to use the translate feature to help convey their full nuanced meaning.

Now for the first time, we’re thrilled to be able to offer our programs in Arabic for our many educator partners and youth participants in the Middle East and North Africa. And soon we will be launching Spanish language versions as part of a Global Nomads expansion.

“Every young person has the right to communicate and learn in the language they feel most comfortable,” asserts Dr. Sandra J. Stein, Global Nomads’ Chief of Programs and Learning. “We are committed to removing any barriers to participation youth may face in accessing the important content in our programs.”

A grant from longtime Global Nomads partner Qatar Foundation International supported the translation of our Student to World curriculum into standard Arabic and also allowed us to develop content prompting exploration of linguistic and cultural differences and the implicit biases evident in every language.

Building on the success of this work, this summer we launched a project to develop Spanish-language versions of our programming and pilot them with approximately 200 students from eight classrooms in the coming school year. 

In addition to online course-based content for students and educators, we are creating Spanish-language videos for each module with English subtitles and adding Spanish subtitles to English videos to benefit language learners in both countries. We will also be co-designing live events with bilingual youth leaders and training them to facilitate real-time cross-national dialogues. Further, we are establishing an educator community of practice with training sessions and communication forums for teachers to exchange ideas, experiences, and best practices.

Bridging language divides will open the door for millions of young people globally to meaningfully participate in Global Nomads programs and to discover how much language shapes our perception of each other and the world. 

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