Anyone who has ever spent time visiting another country or practicing another language has stories about the inevitable faux pas made while simply trying to communicate. They also know of the struggles to express thoughts and opinions in a second language. But what if we had to live in a new country and learn the language and customs to survive and take care of our families? Would we bring our full selves to our communities if we could not speak the language?
This is what many of our brothers and sisters from other countries are experiencing every day. They have gifts, skills, and education but they are limited in their participation. EHF is hoping to change that through a partnership with Antena Houston, a language justice organization.
At a clergy workshop in November, José Sánchez, of Antena Houston, showed clergy and laity how they could enhance the engagement in their spaces and make them more inclusive for non-English speaking persons. This resonated with attendees as they recalled times when they did not feel welcomed because of language barriers and others who wanted to make meetings more inclusive but were not sure how.
Antena’s goal is to work with partners to provide a space that encourages and allows the maximum amount of participation by all who attend regardless of their language.
“We really want to push folks from ‘oh, let’s have interpretation for all the people who don’t speak English,’ to actually have it be something that’s more balanced and equitable,” says Sanchez. “So the non-English speakers feel like when they say something, there’s actually going to be someone listening to them, and valuing their voice.”
As congregations seek to create inclusive spaces, it is also imperative to include non-English speakers or second-language speakers in the planning and design of events. Recognizing the need and desire for our congregations to reach out to their communities and provide inclusive spaces for workshops, engagement, and conversation, EHF is offering support to congregations to attend a language justice workshop to utilize the services of Antena to enhance their ministry.
EHF will provide support for congregations that wish to host or attend an Antena workshop utilize their interpretation services.