Translating leads to advocacy work

Headshot image of Jessica NicholasJessica Nicholas

Guest speaker shares strategies and challenges in translation, intercultural communication

Jessica Nicholas, who earned her doctoral degree in French Linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will discuss how the practical application of her French skills has led her on a path toward immigrant advocacy and language accessibility during a talk at UW-La Crosse.

Nicholas will share strategies and challenges in translation interpretation and intercultural communication. Her talk, “Community Translation and Interpretation: Challenges and Rewards,” is from 4-5 p.m. Wednesday, April 11, in 102 Wing Technology Center.

Nicholas has become deeply connected to the Congolese refugee community in central Illinois. She has translated hundreds of official and personal documents, interpreted in civil and criminal court cases, and briefly worked for a refugee center. She also volunteers in the field of immigration law and researches language usage in the community.

Nicholas’ talk is organized by the UWL Department of Global Cultures and Languages.

“This presentation aims to demonstrate the connections between culture, language, and intercultural communication,” says Virginie Cassidy, assistant professor of Global Cultures and Languages. “We are also showing how knowing about other cultures and languages can help the community, and specifically immigrants, make a difference and improve our society and ourselves.”

Class collaboration

This semester, Cassidy and Jessica Miller, professor at UW-Eau Claire, collaborated through the UW System Collaborative Learning Program to have Nicholas’ talk simultaneously presented in Eau Claire, allowing UW-Eau Claire students to participate in the conversation. Terry Wirkus, UWL Information Technology Services, and Laurence Couturier, UWL Language Resource Center director, assisted to make the class collaboration possible.

After her presentation, Nicolas will attend a course, “FRE 317: Practice in translation” that Cassidy is teaching and lead part of the class. Nicholas will bring examples of the types of document she translates and have students discuss how they would translate them. Also, Megan Strom, UWL assistant professor of Global Cultures and Languages, who does similar work with the Hispanic community will also share her learning experiences in the class.