Team StoryWeaver was in Kolkata in June for our second Translation Hackathon (you can read all about our first one here). 15 volunteer participants, a healthy mix of teachers and language students, came together to version more than 40 stories in Bangla over one weekend. The goal of the hackathon was to facilitate not only the translation of level 1 and 2 book to Bangla, but to also ensure peer led reviews of the translations.
We reached out to Sudeshna Moitra, a language teacher with over 34 years to help us not only find and bring together enthusiastic participants, but to also facilitate the workshop and mentor the volunteers. Sudeshna Ma’am has written 'Banan Tanan' a tome used by many Bengali writers. She writes for a number of Bengali blogs, and is also the editor of Sahajpath. As a resource person in Alamin Mission she organises training workshops for teacher on language teaching.
Sudeshna Ma’am believes that “Translation of stories helps to transmit thoughts into other languages, breaking the barrier of geographical distance, religion, and culture.”
The hackathon opened with a warm introduction and Sudeshna Ma’am set the agenda for the two day hackathon. Participants were familiarized with the Pratham Books mission and the power of open licenses. Rajesh Khar, Pratham Books Editor, spoke about the nuances of translating for children, levelled readers and also exposed them to the best practices followed by our team of Language Editors. Rajesh ensured that the participants - language students and teachers working with the children from underserved communities - had much clarity to the end goal of weaving quality books that were freely accessible for the last child.
Sudeshna Moitra sets the agenda for the workshop.
“We had curated a list of stories that we wanted to see translated through the workshop. These were level 1 and 2 stories published by Pratham Books, BookDash, ASP and the StoryWeaver community. We assigned the stories to each participant before the workshop keeping in mind their particular strengths. They were asked to read each story a few times to familiarise themselves with the story and it’s nuances. But the idea was for also for them to tap into the collective learnings and energy of the group to weave their translations.” shared Amna Singh, Associate Language Editor, Pratham Books.
Participants busy translating
One of the participants, Suman Das, a Head Master Of Chalitatali Prathamik Vidyalaya of Nadia said that once the clock started ticking the participants gathered speed and completed half their allotted books before lunch. Once they had translated the stories Sudeshna Ma’am reviewed each and every story with some receiving a green signal to publish. After lunch, a discussion on the need for level appropriate words in translation was had. “Some of us, including myself used some words which weren't appropriate for the age group the stories were intended for.” shared the Head Master.
Discussions and healthy debates
Peer -to-peer review of translations
Mentoring and feedback
The next day, peer led review of stories lead to new words being included, some that were more soothing to the ear.
The hackathon was a lively space for discussion and debate: how to make translations child-friendly, keeping the words level-appropriate, importing cultural references (or not) while translating a story. This lead us to understand that a handy glossary of examples demonstrating Pratham Books’ editorial stance on translation for the last child would be helpful at our next hackathon.
It was also wonderful to see participants use robust local language keyboards which we documented to see if we could integrate the libraries into StoryWeaver.
“The workshop has provided a platform among teachers, students and translators to translate great stories in vernacular; now more children will access these stories.” Sudeshna Ma’am shared at the end of the workshop.
Participants left with plans to take StoryWeaver to their respective schools and we have already heard back from Subimal Pramanik, Assistant Primary Teacher of Swarupnagar North 24 pargonas about this.
“I have already started a new class where there is reading and learning with StoryWeaver. Students enjoyed the trial session very much and I have decided to continue with the sessions.”
We’re also very excited about a the StoryWeaver workshop that Suman Das will be conducting for 17 primary teachers from 12 schools in the Nadia district on 5th August.
Everything just came together so well over the weekend – the hunger for good stories, the energy of the language students, the wisdom of the teachers, their shared passion for Bangla. We can’t wait for our next hackathon!
You can read all the stories translated at the hackathon here.