On November 1-3, 2017, Fuller Theological Seminary held its annual missiology conference in Pasadena, California, discussing race, theology, and mission. While historically some translation has been provided in the past, this year Korean and Spanish took greater precedence than ever before.
In the past, non-English languages were marginalized. It was not always clear that other languages, like Korean and Spanish, were accommodated for–and to English speakers, it would not even cross their mind. Translation was a nice to have, a good gesture, but it was not necessary and did not directly affect them.
But this year, any attendee, whether they spoke English, Korean, or Spanish, could come into the conference, sit down, and understand what was being spoken immediately. How was this possible? With spf.io!
Spf.io is a translation software that simplifies event translation and creates a seamless experience for the audience. Equipped with this technology, Fuller was able to provide translation in real-time with event speakers. They displayed Korean and Spanish side-by-side at the front, making the event a multilingual missions conference!
Even English speakers who experience hearing loss benefited. Announcements with the link were shared with attendees so they could receive English captions directly on their device.
Putting the languages on screen in the front was “a really powerful visual…it really conveyed that Korean and Spanish audiences mattered.” said Robert Bethke, director of International Communications.
For so long, these communities whose primary languages were other than English often fall by the wayside and are attended to only if there are resources for them. While these events bring exciting and thoughtful ideas into the conversation, those who are less fluent in English lose out from participating in these events–and these events also miss out from their presence and their contribution to the conversation.
The missiology conference wasn’t just a one-off translation effort. Bethke leads a team of Spanish and Korean translators and together they provide translation and welcome non-English speakers every week at chapel. Spf.io is the tool that enables them to do that affordably and consistently.
In previous years, the budget only enabled chapel to provide translation once a month. The lack of consistency meant that Korean and Spanish visitors would not know if translation would be available. So there were days when translators were available but nobody needing translation showed up (a wasted opportunity), and then there were other days where Spanish and Korean attendees came to chapel but no translation was available (a missed opportunity!). With spf.io, Fuller is equipped to consistently provide translation week after week at a fraction of the cost.
There is some wariness from the Spanish and Korean speaking communities. After years of inconsistent or no translation at campus-wide events, these students have grown accustomed to the idea that those events are “not for them”. But as word spreads around campus, Bethke is excited for the culture to change on campus.