Science or Ciencia? Carolina’s Story

carolinasstory

A story based in reality (Para Español siga este enlace)

Carolina’s ears started feeling really hot. It wasn’t because of the temperature inside the laboratory, it was because of her embarrassment. To Carolina’s classmates she was Carol, they had no idea that she spoke Spanish, or that her grandmother barely spoke English.

Abuela Rita wasn’t the source of the embarrassment. Carolina was proud of her grandmother, a single mother that raised a family by herself with a custodial job. But when her grandmother spoke in Spanish during the high-school field trip to the University and called her by her full name, Carolina felt as if her grandmother had left her naked in front of her classmates.

Carolina wanted to tell all the other students that she was very proud of her grandmother. Abuela Rita was the reason she got interested in science in the first place. Rita told Carolina many bedtime stories when she was a little girl. Stories about all the sparkling glassware and blinking instruments that she saw when cleaning the laboratories at the University, and about some of the friendly scientists that talked with her daily when she picked up the trash. It was abuela Rita who convinced Carolina’s parents to let her go to the a free after-school science program, and it was abuela Rita who got her the internship at Dr. Jones’ laboratory. But Carolina did not manage to say any of that, she just managed to say hola to her grandmother and then hide in a corner, hoping the ultra-centrifuge machine operated by the postdoc in the white coat would distract her classmates attention.

There were only two Hispanics in the after-school science program, Carolina and Margarita, but they never spoke Spanish. Their English was flawless and Carol and Maggie never dropped a hint of their roots in a different culture. But it is not that Carolina had abandoned Spanish, it is more like Spanish abandoned her.

Her parent’s English wasn’t perfect, and they spoke Spanglish at home, but Carolina’s parents insisted that Carolina learn only English at school. Carolina’s Spanish was a product of Rita’s stubborn character, the Spanish-books section at the library, and the overwhelmingly Hispanic barrio she lived in all her childhood. Spanish was how she played and danced with friends. It was the language were she felt at home, with the words that tasted like Rita’s “huevos rancheros” and smelled like “jasmines” in a rainy afternoon. But as soon as Carolina got interested in science, Spanish became a hindrance.

Spanish-speaking TV at home wasn’t that much fun anymore, and neither was the radio. She did not see or hear about Hispanic woman doing what she wanted to do. Only guys in white coats speaking English or fake german accents. Her family and friends in “el barrio” did not really understand what she did after school. Mostly because she only knew the English words for what she wanted to describe, but also because science wasn’t part of “el barrio’s” daily life, she became distant from her friends. Sadly Carolina’s World was split. A switch flipped inside her brain, and every time science was on her mind the World could only speak English.

There was a brief time in Carolina’s life when Spanish and science lived gracefully together inside of her: it was when Rita was in the hospital. Carolina was the perfect interpreter when abuela Rita required treatment for “cataratas”. The medical instructions were overwhelming for Rita, but Carolina took the time to decipher the sometimes unintelligible instructions in “Spanish” and put them in a language that her grandmother could understand. She checked everything in both English and Spanish, and took what worked best for Rita.

The staff in the hospital that treated abuela Rita still remember her. They know she speaks Spanish and they call her Carolina. But two years later on the field trip she isn’t Carolina anymore. She is Carol, and her classmate’s faces show incredulity when her grandmother changes her daily cleaning rounds to stop by Dr. Jones’ laboratory to say “hola Carolina”.

What happened in the last two years? Why did Carolina feel so embarrassed? How did she become Carol? What made her renounce her cultural identity in order to become an aspiring scientist?

Those questions were part of a conversation with Luis Quevedo a Sunday morning of March in Raleigh, North Carolina. Carolina is a fictional character that was born that morning. We had just finished a great Science Online Together meeting when we finally met in person with Mónica Feliú-Mójer and Marga Gual Soler. The ideas and discussion among the four of us, with great feedback from people at the conference and our community gave birth to something bigger and more urgent: More and Better Science en Español: a Call to Action published in Scientific American Blogs, and the Red Comuniciencia.

Do you wonder what we lose when people like abuela Rita don’t get context-relevant Spanish information about health? Wonder why Carolina needs to become Carol in order to become a scientist? Just want “más ciencia en español” now, Please join us!

Gracias.

Ivan Fernando Gonzalez

SPANISH:

La historia de Carolina


Carolina empezó a sentir que sus orejas se ponían rojas. No fue a causa de la temperatura en el interior del laboratorio, sino a causa de la vergüenza que sentía. Para los compañeros de Carolina ella se llamaba Carol, ellos tampoco tenían idea de que ella hablaba español, o que su abuela apenas hablaba un Inglés entrecortado.

La abuela Rita no era la causante de su vergüenza. Carolina estaba orgullosa de su abuela, una madre soltera que crió sola a sus hijos y los educó con un salario de aseadora. Pero cuando su abuela habló en español durante la visita de la escuela secundaria a la Universidad donde ella trabajaba como aseadora y llamó a su nieta por su nombre completo, Carolina sintió como si su abuela la había dejado desnuda delante de sus compañeros de clase.

Carolina quería decirle a todos los otros estudiantes que estaba muy orgullosa de su abuela. Que abuela Rita fue la razón por la que ella se interesó por la ciencia en el primer lugar. Que Rita le contó a Carolina muchos cuentos cuando era una niña pequeña. Historias acerca de los muchos frascos de vidrio con formas imposibles y los instrumentos de luces parpadeantes que ella veía cuando hacía la limpieza de los laboratorios de la Universidad. Rita también le contó acerca de lo que hacían algunos de los científicos con los que charlaba todos los días cuando ella recogía la basura. Fue abuela Rita quien convenció a los padres de Carolina que la dejaran ir a los talleres de ciencia después de sus clases, y fue abuela Rita quien le consiguió el internado de verano en el laboratorio del Dr. Jones. Pero Carolina no logró decir nada de lo que quería decir, ella sólo atinó a decirle hola a su abuela, y luego a esconderse en un rincón, con la esperanza que la ultra-centrifugadora operada por el postdoc de la bata blanca distraería la atención de sus compañeros, que no paraban de mirarla.

Sólo había dos hispanos en los talleres de ciencia de su escuela, Carolina y Margarita, pero ellas nunca hablaban español entre ellas. Su Inglés era impecable y Carol nunca dejó en clase que los compañeros conocieran sus raíces familiares. Pero no es que Carolina haya buscado abandonar el español, pasó más bien que el español abandonó a Carolina.

El Inglés de sus padres no era perfecto, y ellos hablaban spanglish en casa. Pero los padres de Carolina insistieron en que Carolina hablara Inglés en la casa y en la escuela. El Español de Carolina fue un producto de la obstinación de abuela Rita, de los libros en Español de la biblioteca, y del barrio mayoritariamente hispano donde Carolina vivió toda su infancia. El idioma Español era el lenguaje de los juegos y de los bailes con los amigos. Era la lengua del corazón, con palabras que hacían que los “huevos rancheros” de Rita sí supieran a lo que eran y con flores que olían a jazmines en una tarde lluviosa, nunca “tasty scrambled eggs” o “fragrant jasmine”. Sin embargo, tan pronto como Carolina se interesó en la ciencia, el Español se convirtió en un obstáculo.

La TV en español ya no era tan divertida, y tampoco lo era la radio. Carolina no veía ni oía acerca de mujeres hispanas haciendo lo que ella quería hacer. Sólo hombres blancos en batas blancas hablando en Inglés con subtítulos en Español, o peor aún, cómicos de pelo alborotado con acentos alemanes falsos. Su familia y sus amigos en el barrio no entendían realmente lo que ella hacía en los talleres de ciencia después de la escuela. Sobre todo porque ella sólo sabía las palabras en inglés para lo que quería describir, pero también porque la ciencia no era parte de la vida diaria de el barrio. En cierta manera la ciencia la distanció de sus amigos y su familia. Tristemente el mundo de Carolina se dividió. Un interruptor se encendió en su cerebro, y cada vez que la ciencia estaba en su mente el mundo sólo podía hablar Inglés.

No siempre había sido así. Hubo un breve momento en la vida de Carolina cuando Español y ciencia vivían en paz dentro de ella: fue hace dos años cuando abuela Rita estuvo en el hospital. Carolina era el intérprete perfecto cuando Rita necesitó un tratamiento para las cataratas. Las instrucciones médicas abrumaban a la abuela Rita, pero Carolina se tomó el tiempo para descifrar las instrucciones que venían en “Español”, con palabras a veces  ininteligibles, y las puso siempre en un lenguaje que su abuela podía entender. Revisó todo en Inglés y Español, y tomó de ambos lo que funcionaba mejor para Rita.

El personal del hospital que trató a abuela Rita todavía recuerdan a la joven nieta. Ellos saben que ella habla español y se llama Carolina. Sin embargo, dos años más tarde, en la excursión de su clase ella ya no es Carolina. Ella es Carol, y las caras de sus compañeros de clase muestran incredulidad cuando su abuela cambia sus rondas de limpieza diaria de pasar por el laboratorio del Dr. Jones para decir “hola Carolina”.

¿Qué ha pasado en los últimos dos años? ¿Por qué Carolina se siente tan avergonzada? ¿Cómo pudo Carolina convertirse en Carol? ¿Qué le hizo renunciar a su identidad cultural con el fin de convertirse en una aspirante a científica?

Esas preguntas fueron parte de una conversación con Luis Quevedo un domingo por la mañana de Marzo en Raleigh, Carolina del Norte. Carolina es un personaje de ficción que nació esa mañana. Acabábamos de terminar un gran conferencia en Science Online Together donde finalmente nos conocimos en persona con Mónica Feliú-Mojer y Marga Gual Soler. Las ideas y la discusión entre los cuatro, con una gran respuesta de la gente en la conferencia y nuestra comunidad dio a luz a algo más grande y más urgente: Más y mejor ciencia en Español: un llamado a la acción publicado en Scientific AmericanBlogs y también la Red Comuniciencia.

¿Se pregunta qué perdemos cuando gente como la abuela Rita no reciben información en su idioma, contextuada, y relevante sobre salud? ¿Se pregunta por qué tiene que convertirse Carolina en Carol con el fin de convertirse en una científica? ¿Sólo quiere “Más Ciencia en español”? Por favor, únase a nosotros!

Gracias.

Ivan Fernando Gonzalez

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My Ten Most Popular Twitter Links of 2013

A list of what you thought it was worth to click on the link

It is that time of the year when we look back to find the most important past events and gain some insight from them. This list has the links that my Twitter audiences found most interesting from March 2013 to December 2013.

Montage

Year 2013 on Twitter

About the list: I have shared over a thousand links on Twitter, a lot of them never get opened, but some of the links get big responses just because they are re-tweeted by users with audiences in the tens of thousands, or because they are well tuned to the interests of the people who follows me on Twitter. I used BitLy to find the 10 most popular links of 2013, here you have the list starting with number ten and ending with number 1, the most opened link of 2013!

#10 Vote for University of Washington’s Engage Science Seminar Series!

Sometimes when you ask people to help you advertise a cause, they help you a lot. Engage Science is a student-run seminar that helps young scientists improve their communication skills. Engage was participating in the NSF Graduate Education Challenge and needed votes to have their proposal funded. Thank for the re-tweets and for the people who clicked the link to find how to vote for Engage (Total of 19 clicks).

 #9 EPA profiles of Latinos (En Español)

Not a lot of people knows that EPA has a very active social media feed in Spanish, one of their profiles of EPA employees that I shared made it to the top ten more clicked links: Evelyn Rivera-Ocasio, a compliance inspector in charge of wastewater treatment plants in Puerto Rico (Total of 19 clicks).

#8 News from Perú investing in Science

Perú tripled its investment in science and innovation this year, and CONCYTEC started an aggressive campaign to promote science education and research in the country. This is a link to a LatinAmericanScience.org English translation of a short post I wrote in Spanish for my SalsaDeCiencia blog (Total of 19 clicks)

#7 Developing a National roadmap for communication training in STEM graduate programs

Meetings happen behind closed doors in Washington DC everyday, but some of them encourage participants to share their content on twitter. #GradSciComm participants were so generous with their sharing that I was able to write a ScienceSalsa.com blog post about the meeting without attending it. (Total of 20 clicks)

Blogger and scientist DNLee (@DNLee5) started a Twitter list of Diverse Science Writers, she crowd-sourced the names online, and a lot of people was interested on the list. Thank you for including me on it! (Total of 21 clicks).

Perú tripled its investment in science and innovation this year.This is the link to the original SalsaDeCiencia.com blog post I wrote in Spanish (Total of 21 clicks).

#4 Science communication for Spanish-speaking audiences event

Thank you again for helping me promote this event last November in Seattle. We had a wonderful panel that shared their first-hand experience engaging Hispanics (Total of 44 clicks).

SpanishSciComm#16:: Engaging the Invisible Americans: Science communication for Spanish-speaking audiences

There is a huge American audience with a language of its own, have you heard of it? Hispanic Americans make up 17% of the population, and…

More about science communication in Spanish

If you are interested in Spanish-speaking audiences please check the following link for the event’s recap and video. It had a total of 119 clicks, but those didn’t come from my Twitter links, so it didn’t make it on this list.

#3 Two science communication training programs featured in newspapers last March

The Seattle Times featured Engage Science from University of Washington, and the Long Island Newsday featured the Center for Communicating Science of Stony Brook University (Total of 48 clicks).

Science communication training: raising the bar inside and outside academia

#2 Proyecto Ciencia para todos (En Español)

“Ciencia para todos” showcases ongoing efforts to reach the massive Spanish-speaking audiences in the USA (and Globally). As part of this effort, I started a public opt-in list that may help science communicators match local Spanish-speaking communicators and a growing public Twitter list with more than 150 resources worldwide in Spanish. (Total of 131 clicks).

Additionally a total of 74 people click on the Twitter link for the form to opt-in on the list (and only half actually subscribed) and 65 people have consulted the Twitter link for the list already

Ciencia para todos El proyecto Ciencia Para Todos es en principio muy simple: busca ayudar a que los esfuerzos de la comunicación de la ciencia -que existen…

Ivanfgonzalez

#1 Invited post, Scientists are Humans too

In the age of PowerPoint it is hard to remember that you are the presentation, not your slides. This invited blog post talks about my struggles as a scientist to give engaging presentations, and the lessons I learned during the Engage Science Seminar at University of Washington. Effective science communication training in academia is possible, Engage even includes a talk in front of Town Hall Seattle, a great public venue, but programs like it are still diamonds because they are difficult to find in the current graduate education landscape (Total of 148 clicks).

Student Post: Scientists are Humans Too Fernando Gonzalez is Colombian/Peruvian scientist living in Seattle, Washington. He also blogs at Science Salsa, a blog about science tha…

Thank you!

I want to thank you for sharing those links and for reading them. The year 2013 doubled the number of people following my accounts on Twitter (@gonzalezivanf in English and @salsadeciencia in Spanish) and I like to believe it is because you found the content pleasant and useful. It has been a little over a year since I started learning how to become an effective science communicator, thank you for coming along with me and helping me grow, thank you for your patience and your support.

Have a wonderful 2014 and I hope to keep enjoying the privilege of your company on Twitter!

About BitLy:

BitLy is a service that offers URL redirection with real-time link tracking. I have used BitLy on Twitter since March of 2013, and to this date it has helped me track the usage of over 1,000 links. I made this list of My Ten Most Popular Twitter Links of 2013 based on their statistics, selecting the links with the largest number of clicks. To visit my BitLy account please follow this link:

 Ivan Fernando Gonzalez | Public Profile

Related:

#GradSciComm: Developing a National roadmap for communication training in STEM graduate programs

Requirements of Science Communication proficiency
Requirements of Science Communication proficiency

There are times when reform is necessary. The very successful STEM graduate education programs in USA are now graduating a lot more PhDs, but the number of Faculty positions is not increasing accordingly. This has generated a new reality for young scientists: Six of every seven PhDs will not get an academic Faculty position and will need to find a job elsewhere.

After seven years as a graduate student plus three years as a postdoc, I found myself facing that new reality. At the time, I was sad watching my career as an independent researcher stopping after years of hard work, but I was very excited to watch new horizons opening. Deciding to become a professional science communicator came with the realization that –except from some past volunteer work– I was poorly prepared to be an effective communicator for a general audience.

If you have read my blog in the past, you know that I have done efforts to improve my communication skills; taking online classes, attending the Engage Science seminar series at University of Washington, and learning from the ScienceOnline community. Still, I wonder if it would have been better just to have more science communication training when I was in graduate school. There is clearly a need for scientist that can tell their research in public, why don’t we do more communication training in graduate school?

Turns out that there are graduate programs that offer communication training for STEM students, and grassroots efforts from graduate students too. I knew of a couple of them, doing amazing work to train young scientists. But then I hear about GradSciComm, and realized the effort to reform graduate education is widespread.

What is GradSciComm?

GradSciComm is an effort leaded by COMPASS to “assess the current landscape of communication trainings available to graduate students in the STEM disciplines”, but it goes beyond that. The idea is to build a roadmap for graduate education reform. From COMPASS blog:

“Reforming graduate education is grand challenge, but it’s a movement with serious momentum behind it. Federal agencies, professional societies, and graduate-led efforts are hard at work, including the National Institutes of HealthCouncil of Graduate SchoolsAmerican Chemical Society, and the National Science Foundation Graduate Education Modernization Challenge, to name a few. The need for better professional skills training comes up in nearly every conversation. And improved communication skills is just one among many needs.” Erica Goldman and Liz Neeley.

Part of the GradSciComm effort was to learn what communication training was already done, to start a conversation based on the current landscape. Last week, on December 5th and 6th at the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C., “four COMPASS staff –Nancy BaronBrooke SmithErica Goldman, and Liz Neeley – ” facilitated a discussion “among a select group of scholars, trainers, funders, institutional leaders, and graduate students as they consider the results of our work to date and wrestle with where we go from here.”

The conversations were not recorded to encourage frank discussion, but the slides from presentations are available here: (Day1 Day2 ) and Twitter discussion was very fruitful (public quotes did not name speaker). I made a Storify of the discussion so people can have access to it. Here is the links for Day1 and Day2 on Twitter.

I know the public discussion on Twitter is incomplete by necessity, and I am looking forward for more coming from COMPASS soon, but I recommend you check the archive of Tweets to give you an idea of how many possibilities and challenges face the graduate education reform in the area of communication. Here I leave you with only four of the tweets that came from #Gradscicomm, I hope this inspires you to join the discussion:

What do you think? Do you agree with those ideas? Would you like to talk about your personal experience? Join the discussion in the comments or in Twiter using #GradSciComm. Thanks!

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[View the story “#gradscicomm: the current landscape of communication trainings available to graduate students in the STEM disciplines” on Storify]
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Related links:

Beyond science communication in English: What is #ScioLang?

sciolang
Modified from: Wikimedia commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Science

ScioLang is an open conversation about how science is generated, shared, and communicated online, extending beyond English-speaking audiences. It is also a session of ScienceOnline Together, happening in Raleigh, North Carolina, on February 2014. The tittle of this facilitated discussion session is “Non-English science communication”.

The ScienceOnline organizers put me in charge of facilitating this discussion. My main function is to offer a safe and productive space for the exchange of ideas, and to keep the conversation going. Beyond the tittle there is no other description for this discussion, and that is done purposefully. The content of ScioLang is built by you.

You can take part in the conversation now by using the #ScioLang hashtag on Twitter. You may contact me now with your ideas and suggestions in both English (@gonzalezivanf) and Spanish (@SalsaDeCiencia). For ideas and suggestions in more languages I am recruiting the help of fellow attendees, Brian Glanz (@BrianGlanz) for German, Cristina Russo (@russo_cristina) for Portuguese, and Marianne Alleyne (@Cotesia1) for Dutch conversations. I hope the more we talk about #ScioLang the more languages we can bring into the discussion. Please check this link often for updates in more languages.

This post has been modified to add the final list of ScioLang Ambassadors:

Related articles:

Engaging the Invisible Americans: Science communication for Spanish-speaking audiences at #ScioSEA

Sarah Doty (Seamar), Ivan Orbegozo (LatinNexus), Adrianna Gutierrez (NCI) and Mónica Feliú-Mójer (CienciaPR)

They say you should know your audience…

But can you really know your online audience? Especially one that does not speak your own language? Writing content for an online audience requires some guesswork and a lot of hope; you guess what your audience may want to read, you write it for them, and you hope that what you wrote will engage them. The truth is that, apart from online comments and some statistics about clicks on your links, there is not a lot of feedback available about your online readers. When the audience you need to reach has a different culture or  language than your own, this guesswork may become a little too difficult to do from the chair in front of your computer.

Thankfully we don’t exist in a total vacuum, and we can build partnerships with trusted institutions and members of the audience that we want to reach. For Spanish-speaking audiences in the USA those partnerships are readily available: bilingual, trusted, sources at the federal, state, and local level are always hungry for more and better content for Hispanics.

Make no mistake, Spanish-speaking audiences need to be engaged in the discussions about science, medicine and technology in America. It is not only about inclusion and social justice, but about the massive force of demographics. Hispanic Americans are a fast growing community. They make up 17% of the population, and are projected to be 31% of the population by 2060. USA is the fifth largest Spanish-speaking country by population, and Spanish-dominant and bilingual Hispanics accounted for more than 54% of the 32 million Hispanics online in 2010. To leave behind the first-generation of Spanish speakers is not even an option; Americans raised fully bilingual require the constant partnership and support of their Spanish-speaking parents to succeed in STEM.

What we learned at the Science Online Seattle event

Last week at the University of Washington in Seattle we had the chance to ask questions about the Hispanic audiences and to hear four different experiences engaging the Hispanic population en español using the Internet; One global, one at Federal level, one at Washington State level, and one local. Those were our “conversation starters” that began the conversation at the event:

Enhancing science learning with concepts relevant to local context and to Hispanic culture:

Mónica Feliú-Mójer of Ciencia Puerto Rico (CienciaPR) told us about the non-profit grassroots organization composed by people with an interest in science and Puerto Rico. Their website is the headquarters for most initiatives, but CienciaPR is more than a website, it is a global community, and a big one: it connects 188 academic institutions, 6,500 members, and 100 scientific disciplines.

Feliú-Mójer reminded us that science learning is enhanced when concepts are made relevant to your context and to your culture. In many Spanish-speaking communities concepts are seldom illustrated in a culturally relevant fashion, and that sends the wrong message to the public and to students. It sends the message that science is not relevant for them or that they can’t become a scientist. Scientists and communicators can help changing this perception by communicating science to the public in a culturally relevant fashion. CienciaPR successfully enlisted scientists from their online community and communicators to create this kind of content (more than 384 articles so far). The effort became a book and now is used in Puerto Rican schools as a textbook, making an impact in K-12 science education.

Science communication is not only about language and what you say, but also about who says it. If you see somebody that speaks your language, shares your background, and looks like you, that communicates that science is relevant to you, and you can reach what that person is. For that reason another successful initiative of CienciaPR has been adding profiles of Hispanic scientists -and personal blogs- and organizing school visits to help change the perception of what a scientist should look or sound like.

If you are engaging the Hispanic community, make sure you include a way they can ask questions and get more information

Adrianna Gutierrez described the Cancer Information Service (CIS) as the link between the scientific health information of the  National Cancer Institute and the community. “We help them answer any questions they may have about cancer and make it in a way that is understandable for them”. She emphasizes that when you are bringing information to Spanish-speaking populations you should also give a way for the community to ask questions and get more information.

The CIS effort relies heavily on the Internet. Not only have one half of the people who contact them found about this service via Internet, but people are using the Internet to contact them with questions: roughly one third of contacts were through email (as many contacts as with their phone calls), and one fifth of contacts were through their Spanish-language Mobile app. They also have a Facebook pageYouTube videos, and a twitter account but not a lot of people use those to ask questions.

What are Hispanics asking about? CIS users are usually contacting them with general questions about symptoms and diagnosis, looking for doctors, and treatment. She also noticed the low percentage of Spanish-speaking requests for more information on cancer clinical trials (only 7.2% of conversations touch that subject). Latinos(*) are vastly underrepresented in cancer research and clinical trials and hopefully, by providing this information and engaging the community, the willingness and interest in participating on clinical trials will increase, providing drugs tested to work on groups that are representative of the general population.

Assess the community you are working with to provide multiple methods for accessing information

Sarah Doty, of Sea Mar, believes the health literacy level of Latinos is an important factor to consider when thinking about what information and resources to put out in the community: an estimated 66% of Latinos have basic or bellow-basic health literacy skills, compared with the overall national number of 36%. Latinos are a very diverse community, not one size-fits-all, not only in literacy levels but also culturally. Assuming Spanish-proficiency is also risky; some of them may have Spanish as a second language and indigenous languages as their native tongue. The level of interest is also highly variable, and you should ask yourself continuously how much information somebody wants.

Having multiple levels of interest and health literacy means that high literacy and high interest users get more in-depth information, low-interest users give less in-depth information and Spanish-as-a-second-language users receive media that provides more visual clues. Doty suggested people interested in bringing health or science stories to Latinos to provide both high-level information and formats accessible for public with low literacy levels (with clear visual information).

A a big number of Latino patients at Sea Mar have cell phones with Internet access but they may not have a computer at home. Doty is using digital storytelling and social media as tools to improve engagement and health literacy in the Latino population. A digital story is basically somebody’s personal story, an audio recording with added photos and some music, a tool to educate about health issues but also for personal empowerment. Sea Mar has a Facebook page and radio station. Radio is a great tool to reach Latino population and it is a community-trusted method to get information. In addition to those, Sea Mar refers web-savvy patients to educational videos on YouTube  to webMD, FamilyDoctor, Myplate (mi plato) and a smoke-cessation website from the Legacy foundation.

Leveraging mobile Internet to reach new immigrants

Ivan Orbegozo, of Latin Nexus Group, came to Seattle 13 years ago speaking almost no-English. Orbegozo talked during our event about his struggles as an Spanish-speaking newcomer, and how finding resources like the Seattle Public library allowed him to learn English and to find a job communicating technology in Spanish. Now he is building the service he dreamed of when he first came to the USA: a centralized list of local resources for Spanish-speaking people using mobile devices. The choice of platform has to do with cell phones helping to reduce the digital divide between Latinos and whites, and the service is implemented in HTML5 to avoid both Hispanic users reluctance to install applications and the segmentation inherent in selecting a specific phone platform for the application.

Can you guess who is NOT Hispanic from the picture? The guy with the red shirt is me. Born in Colombia, Hispanic and 100% Latino.
Can you guess who is NOT Hispanic from the picture? The guy with the red shirt is me. Born in Colombia, Hispanic and 100% Latino.

There is no such a thing as a monolithic audience

To provide context and culturally relevant concepts to Hispanics with roots in the Caribbean and to Hispanics in New Mexico may need sometimes a complete rewrite of your text. Hispanics are a group united by Spanish language and a common history, but not only the language and scientific literacy levels are variable across the community. The same language is not use it the same way in different cultures, and that reflects in the choice of words needed to convey your meaning. There is no easy out-of-the-box way to communicate with Spanish-speaking audiences, but a myriad of possible partnerships with trusted sources for the Hispanic community to create effective and delightful science communication content in Spanish.

What can you do to create content that engages Hispanic Americans?

Sarah Doty firmly believes that it is important for science communicators to grow with the rapidly growing Latino population in a way that involves the Latino community. I completely agree. Hispanics are not invisible, they are not hiding from you, but  they are under the radar for a lot of people in the science communication community. It takes a tuned ear and constant interest to hear the voices that learned first how to speak Spanish, and today are intermingled in our daily lives. Now that you may have caught a glimpse, what can you do to create content that engages Hispanic Americans?

Connect with people of the community, look for individuals that are already trusted by the community, and know what the community needs. User that connection as your platform.

  • You may contact the panelists (see form at the bottom) or contact me.
  • The CienciaPR database is a good point to start looking for partnerships, they have a great membership map with people all over the country. You don’t need to be born in Puerto Rico to be a member, you only need to have an interest in science and Puerto Rico.
  • You may also check an opt-in list of Spanish-speaking science communicators I am hosting called “Ciencia Para Todos” with about a dozen of communicators in USA, another dozen in Spain, and a dozen in Latin-America.
  • Check out this international Twitter list with over 150 Spanish-speaking science communicators.
  • At the federal level several institutions have an effort in Spanish, from NASA to EPA, check if some government organizations in your area of expertise may be interested in partnerships.
  • Some professional organizations have an Spanish effort like the American Chemistry Society or have a hub for minority scientists like the American Physical Society, check if your professional society has one.
  • Contact your local SACNAS or SHPE chapter.
  • Follow #sciolang and #comuniciencia hash-tags on Twitter
  • Google your city name and the word “ciencia” you may be surprised of what you find.
For the full conversation please watch the video (1 hour):

video

Watch live streaming video from scienceonline at livestream.com

 

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(*) Hispanic and Latino are used very often interchangeably, but I use Hispanic to convey a population with Spanish as main language and cultural tradition, while Latino means to me people with roots in Latin-America. Hispanic includes people born in Spain, but excludes Brazilians because they speak Portuguese, Latino excludes Spanish but includes Brazilians.

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Special thanks to Jen Davison and Liz Neeley for their guidance and help putting the event together, to Sally James for her invaluable help searching for awesome panelists, to Brian Glanz for planting the idea of this event, to Jessica Rhode for filming it, and to Peter Wallis, Adam Kennedy, and Rachael Ludwick for their support.

La lengua franca de los científicos es el inglés, pero que pasará en el futuro?

This post is about a Research Trends study using Scopus data of 8 countries. The general trend is to  publish more science in English and less in the native language. It raises the question if scientists that don speak English will be marginalized from mainstream research, or if the investment in STEM from emergent market countries will bring a balance where national research and papers in native language would be worth translating to English or other languages after publication.

Empíricamente, el dominio del idioma Inglés en la ciencia es incuestionable. Del laboratorio al aula de clases, de la democracia a la autocracia, los investigadores pueden comunicarse,y se comunican bien, en un lenguaje aceptado como una clase de moneda universal. Sin embargo sería equivocado asumir que los científicos de todos los lugares poseen esta moneda o que la poseen en el mismo grado. En realidad no todos poseen esta moneda. Y como cualquier otra forma de capital, la posesión desigual es generalizada y significa desigualdad en la ciencia, con implicaciones de gran envergadura.”

Scott L. Montgomery – Does Science need a global language?

Un estudio reciente de Research Trends usando información de Scopus puso de manifiesto que el Inglés es cada vez más a menudo la lengua escogida para publicar literatura científica. El estudio comparó publicaciones de artículos en idioma inglés con artículos que sólo tenían un resumen en Inglés y el texto principal en el idioma del país de origen, entre los años 1996 – 2011. Este estudio está reseñado en Inglés en este enlace.

En los últimos cuatro años, la proporción de las publicaciones en idioma Inglés ha continuado creciendo fuertemente en Holanda, Italia y la Federación Rusa. Creció un poco en Alemania y se mantuvo más o menos estable en Francia, España y China. En Brasil, por el contrario la proporción de publicaciones en Inglés con respecto al Portugués ha ido decreciendo, aunque esto se puede deber a que Scopus está cubriendo más Revistas científicas brasileñas que antes. Sin embargo, la proporción de artículos en Inglés en general está creciendo a nivel global. Para más detalles por favor visite el enlace de Research Trends y vea el gráfico número uno.

Las ventajas de tener una lengua común en la ciencia son claras. La colaboración internacional se puede dar directamente entre investigadores de varias nacionalidades, que se comunican por correo electrónico y durante conferencias internacionales sin necesidad de traductores. Pero la desigualdad recalcada por Scott L. Montgomery en el citado párrafo de su libro es también muy peligrosa.

En mis trece años en los Estados Unidos mi Inglés ha mejorado bastante, pero el idioma es una barrera que se carga perpetuamente en el ambiente profesional, como cuando se pierden segundos valiosos en una presentación o conversación, tratando de buscar la palabra correcta en el idioma que aprendiste como adulto. Aún más, durante la revisión de un artículo para publicación que hice en el pasado para una revista científica, recuerdo que uno de los factores más frustrantes de la revisión fue el Inglés tan pobre de los autores, que hacía casi imposible evaluar la validez de la ciencia que trataban de explicar. No todos los científicos entonces tienen esta moneda universal del Inglés, y tal vez el dominio de esta lenguas en las publicaciones científicas está haciendo que mucho talento se quede relegado a las publicaciones, que por ser en otro idioma, se consideran de menor impacto.

En el futuro cercano el Inglés seguirá creciendo como la lengua franca de la ciencia, pero con los países de mercados emergentes invirtiendo en ciencia y la investigación cada vez más descentralizada, tal vez estos científicos que no nacieron hablando Inglés tengan la oportunidad de que se les publique en su idioma y que luego los que sólo hablan Inglés paguen un traductor para poder entender su ciencia.

El tema de las publicaciones y la comunicación científica en idiomas distintos al Inglés amerita la discusión seria de los científicos y comunicadores en general. Este 14 de Noviembre 2013 estoy organizando un evento público sobre la comunicación de la ciencia en español acá en Seattle http://scienceonlineseattle.org/events/2013/11/16-engaging-the-invisible-americans-science-communication-for-spanish-speaking-audiences/ que se podrá ver en vivo en Internet y el 27 de Febrero 2014 en Raleigh, NC, una sesión sobre comunicación de la ciencia en idiomas distintos al Inglés http://together.scienceonline.com/sessions/.  Ambos eventos se realizarán en Inglés, y no se me escapa la ironía de ese hecho.

Science communication training: raising the bar inside and outside academia

The scientist that forgot how to tell a story.
The scientist that forgot how to tell a story.

This week two newspapers featured school seminars that help graduate students communicate their science to general audiences. The Seattle Times featured Engage Science from University of Washington and the Long Island Newsday featured the Center for Communicating Science of Stony Brook University*. Those programs recognize a need for “communication literacy” on scientific education and represent an awesome professional (and personal) development tool for the students that take the seminars. I firmly believe scientists that like to talk about their research should be able to find a similar seminar or class elsewhere. There is a need for it, and there is a growing group of students acquiring communication training to pursue “non-traditional” science careers (now the majority of job opportunities) where the ability to communicate concisely and in plain English is very valuable.

“The goal of the [Engage Science] course, founded by graduate students, is to teach young scientists how to share their passions for cosmology, chemistry or evolutionary biology without putting people to sleep. The program is one of several springing up across the country, fueled by a new generation of researchers who see public outreach as integral to their jobs.” — Seattle Times

Those scientists will fulfill a key role by showing a more human scientist to the public, somebody non-scientist can understand and relate to. The need is there for those scientists who can communicate science effectively; experts need to bring the scientific consensus in Global Warming to a broader audience and they need to expose the hidden dangers of widespread use of antibiotics. Scientific literacy is not a luxury when those subjects can have such a big impact on people’s lives.

The other role for this bunch of scientists trained on presentation design, jargon removal and storytelling will be inside their research institutions. They will raise the bar for scientific presentations for scientific audiences.

“Though we typically perceive scientists in white lab coats conducting experiments, a critical part of their work involves giving lectures and making presentations.” Long Island Newsday

I spent so many years attending boring scientific  talks that I forgot how to tell a story, and I forgot that the presentation is a lot more than the graphs or the slides. We need scientists trained in communication inside and outside academia. Luckily I got help from Engage Science at UW, and I think I am starting to get better at telling stories. I hope you agree. You can read my take on the lessons learned during the Engage seminar at “Bringing science back, one story at a time” and  the invited post “Scientists are human too”

(*) The article is behind a pay-wall but excerpts of the text are available at the Center for Communicating Science Facebook page.

Related post:

Engage Science Students Blog Post: http://www.engage-science.com/

On the need of opportunities and rewards for science communication http://neurodojo.blogspot.com/2013/03/steering-into-skid-what-can-we-fix-with.html

The soap opera model of science communication, scientists as real people: http://neurodojo.blogspot.com/2013/03/blockbusters-and-telenovelas-models-for.html