Empowered by Translation

Empowered by Translation

On the 12th of June, the third full day of our weeklong planning practicum trip to Puerto Rico, we joined the rollout of the new NDPTC’s “Community Planning for Disaster Recovery” training in Puerto Rico. The presence of two professional conference translators made a critical difference. Not having excellent translation services would have meant loss, not only in “work” hours but, more substantially, in knowledge about the Puerto Rico and disaster recovery planning. The day’s reliance on translation reminded me once again of the need for good translation tools, especially for planning that is principled based on “whole community” concept.

Because of translation, thoughts were heard and their subtleties could be brought back to Hawaii. For example, it was a surprise but also leading that "ant" was the most frequently mentioned animal during the training’s ice - breaker exercise.  The experience of Puerto Ricans in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria made it clearer that  two disaster recovery planning need to be distinguished from one another– one that was tied to FEMA’s 180 days timeline and another that is a reality-grounded one where timeline is a gray area. Puerto Ricans who went through a Hurricane like Maria were clearer about what or who failed – many forms of communication breakdown and different forms of paralysis at all levels of government. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, leadership by action became more conspicuous and new organizations emerged. Unlike in the Honolulu training where participants identified the City's OCCSR (Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency), there was no semblance of consensus over which office or group should be leading the process of disaster recovery planning.

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