Taylor Madsen and Dr. Daryl Lee, BYU French and Italian Department
With the belief that we could make the world better by improving the quality of life for women, our team of three student translators and one expert mentor undertook the challenge to translate and publish the results of two years of gender studies research conducted in Senegal. Although the research was incredibly localized to a generally overlooked country, the patterns existing within Senegal reflect well those seen in many other underdeveloped countries. Thus, we hoped to provide increased knowledge for important decision-makers in the political, academic, and economic sector.
Under the leadership of Danielle Stanford, our project leader, we divided the research into more manageable portions. We received all of the research materials and approval in February 2014. Each week, the individual translators worked for 1-2 hours individually. At the end of the week, we met together to continue translation in a more collaborative fashion. We consulted linguistic databases as well as our technical expert, Dr. Lee. Occasionally, the socio-geographic specificity of the text required us to consult Dr. Fatou Diop to ensure the soundness of our translation. In addition to cultural factors, she helped us to understand the Wolof/African expressions that were embedded within the overall French. The first draft of translation required about three months. This was followed by about two months of editing and graphic preparation. The graphs required not only translation, but certain designing skills. At the end of the six-month process, we submitted the research for publication with Dr. Valerie Hudson, co-founder of the WomanStats project.
After six months of hard work, our team produced roughly twenty pages of manuscript translation, not including graphics. Those manuscript pages were reformatted for subsequent publication to the WomanStats Project. When the results of our research were presented at the recent ORCA Symposium, they received a great deal of attention and interest. Moreover, Dr. Sall and Dr. Valerie Hudson have agreed to continued collaboration with our team for translation and publication. This site has been consulted by a host of important government agencies including the World Bank and the CIA. However, the true success of what we’ve done will be measured in its future application by local and international leaders of governments and businesses.
As previously mentioned, this research has provoked a host of interesting conversation and discussion. During the ORCA symposium, another researcher involved in unveiling the LDS conception of masculinity and I became engrossed in conversation about identity and gender expectations. While certain principles are clearly outlined within the The Proclamation, there are still so many unknowns in the field of gender studies—for men as well as women. This presents a lot of opportunities for additional research within and without the Church. Moreover, the fate of Senegal and Africa at large are incredibly germane right now. Economists and scholars expect that much of the future growth in the coming years will flow from Africa. Helping Africa effectively transition into the global economy in a way that’s sensitive to their cultural past will be absolutely essential.
In conclusion, I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to have worked on this project. It has provided me with invaluable associations with both my fellow translators as well as with important researchers such as Dr. Fatou Diop Sall and Dr. Valerie Hudson. As I’m specializing in French Studies and Global business, this project has been very applicable and informative. Due to the work I’ve completed with this project, I intend to make Africa a part of my future career plans—whether through business associations or civic engagement. Apart from the personal benefits, the work we’ve done has established beneficial associations with one of Africa’s premier institutions (L’Université de Gaston Berger in St. Louis, Senegal) and her leading thinkers. This association will be significant for BYU in the future because “the world is our campus” and we will need to understand what’s happening for men and women worldwide. This project has opened the doors to future collaboration with other African institutions and researchers.