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New Website Highlights the Translation Work of Bryn Mawr Community Members

March 31, 2020


Betty Litsinger

As the Director of Multilingual Writing at Bryn Mawr, Betty Litsinger teaches courses designed to help multilingual students negotiate the cultural and linguistic expectations for academic writing and discussion at Bryn Mawr. She also consults with faculty and staff about ways to make course content and assignments more accessible for multilingual students. But after 14 years of working with students, Litsinger has come to see her role as one that benefits not only the students she works with, but the wider Bryn Mawr community they're a part of.

"Part of my role is to help create a truly internationalized College where we are all benefiting from the knowledge and perspectives of each other," says Litsinger. "Sometimes first generation and international students can feel that they are expected to discard their identities to become a part of the academy. I want them to know that they bring ways of seeing and ways of communicating that are of equal value to our community."

Litsinger's most recent project, In Other Words: Bryn Mawr in Translation, brings together the Bryn Mawr community to nurture and celebrate the rich experience of creative life in a multilingual academic community. 

In Other Words features short works created and translated by students, faculty, staff, and alums. The idea for the project grew out of an Emily Balch seminar, Lost in Translation, taught by Litsinger. The seminar encouraged students to look at the ways in which translation changes meaning, both positively by expanding possibilities for interpretation, and negatively by subverting the original author's intentions. Impressed by the work of students in the class, Litsinger looked for a way to highlight the their work and other translation projects such as the Richmond Lattimore Prize for Poetic Translation.

Getting the project off the ground took about a year and a half and was funded with a Digital Bryn Mawr Seed Grant. The project team included Alicia Peaker from LITS and Millicent Auma '21, a psychology and computer science double major from Kenya, who dealt with the many complexities of building a multi-language site. "This was an entirely new experience for me, and much more complicated than I anticipated," says Litsinger. 

Bryn Mawr students, faculty, staff, and alums can submit material through the website or by emailing Litsinger, whose hope is that there will be interest from community members in continuing the project with an editorial board making selections, perhaps as a course or club in the future.

"At a time when foreign language departments in many colleges are endangered, I think it's important to highlight the critical role languages and translation play in creating beauty and supporting humanity."

The Writing Center

Global Bryn Mawr