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May 26, 2005



Yu, Schechter, Todd
From left: Mandy Yu, Elisabeth Schechter and J.C. Todd

Bryn Mawr students Mandy Yu and Elisabeth Schechter, both members of the Class of 2008, recently shared a thrill few writers who are still in their teens experience: seeing their work published in translation. German versions of an essay by Schechter and a poem by Yu appeared in a German anthology titled Navigationen: Transatlantisches Treffen Junger Autoren.

The book is the product of an international conference of young authors that Schechter and Yu attended in Berlin in November 2003, when they were seniors in high school. Their invitation to attend the conference came about through their participation in Bryn Mawr's Writing for College, a summer program for high-school students. The conference organizers had asked J.C. Todd, a poet and creative-writing teacher who serves on the Writing for College faculty, to recommend four American students for the honor and accompany them to the conference; Schecter and Yu were among those Todd selected for the all-expenses-paid trip.

In Berlin, the students met with German, Italian and Polish students who had been similarly selected. They spent five intensive days translating each student's work into all four of the languages represented — and sleeping very little, Yu says.

"There were two professional translators there, but they were basically just consultants," Schechter says. "It was really the students who translated each other's work."

"We broke into smaller groups, and each group had a mix of all the nationalities," Yu adds. "Nobody knew all of the languages, but enough of the students were bilingual to establish some kind of basis for communication."

The conference culminated in a public event at which each student's work was read in several languages before an audience of about 150 people. "The U.S. Embassy in Berlin sent a letter of congratulations that was also read," Todd says. "It was a truly cross-cultural event."

The event sparked a close friendship between Schechter and Yu. The two remained in contact after the conference and decided to room together when both were accepted at Bryn Mawr. Schechter plans to major in English with a concentration in creative writing; Yu, who plans to declare a major in East Asian studies, is considering a minor in creative writing.


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