Undergraduates in the Archives – Hebblethwaite 2
2What are the benefits of doing so, pedagogically and intellectually?
Assistant Professor, Department of Languages, Literature & Culture – University of Florida
PI, The Vodou Archive
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 There were many benefits to working with these undergraduates. The undergraduates chosen to work on this project were balanced bilinguals who demonstrated robust literacy in English and Haitian Creole, which I was able to assess since they had taken my intermediate Haitian Creole course. Florida has a large Haitian-American population that is second only to New York. In my position at the University of Florida, I instruct a significant number of Haitians and Haitian-Americans who have an advanced command of spoken and written Haitian Creole. Due to this strength, it is only natural to cultivate and tap into these talents for the benefit of their professional development and for the momentum of this project. As Haitian Creole is the third most spoken language in Florida after English and Spanish, developing advanced literacy in the language benefits employment prospects and it empowers individuals to seek out unique knowledge that exists only in Haitian Creole. Bilingual and biliterate candidates for employment in Florida’s healthcare industry, tourism industry, government, the law enforcement and judiciary system, transportation, and a host of other industries stand out next to their monolingual peers. Mastery of literacy in two languages is beneficial because knowledge can be acquired and shared via different mediums; individuals with these skills can facilitate communication, accuracy, and productivity.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Complex and large projects like Vodou Songs in Haitian Creole and English and The Vodou Archive—projects that overlap with specialized aspects of culture and language—are best done, I think, in collaboration with others. Since many of the texts are at first obscure, it is helpful to have several individuals bring unique knowledge and skills to the task of translation and interpretation. Each undergraduate editorial assistant has a unique mastery of Haitian Creole and English. Since material is parsed and analyzed by various editorial assistants, over time the collaboration allows for the emergence of an accurate collective transcription and translation. Given their fluency in Haitian Creole and English, the undergraduates provided outstanding transcriptions and translations of Vodou songs and interviews with Vodou practitioners that I could edit and improve upon for the book or The Vodou Archive.