GV Board Elections 2017: Gwenaëlle Lefeuvre

Hello Everyone!

I am Gwenaëlle, Gwen for short, from Europe. I am seeking the position of Volunteers’ Representative in this coming election.

That's me!

My background didn't really set me up for working with GV, but here I am! I studied physics in Paris, then had a 9-year career in academic research, until I felt I was ready for something else. I've now been working in the semiconductor industry for the past 4 years.

So… how did I arrive on GV in the first place? Pretty randomly, it turns out: I started out of my love for languages and cultures, and my need to keep my French fluent and accurate. You see, I left France 11 years ago, but my language is what expresses my identity the best and I don't want to lose it. I started translating for GV in French exactly 3 years ago and I've been more and more involved over time. Since last year I also help Suzanne Lehn and Claire Ulrich, our Lingua editors, with the sub-editing and publishing process.

Working with GV has opened new doors to me, both thanks to the community and the topics of the articles. What I do with you is making me a better world citizen as it has helped me getting involved in different projects. Through my line of work I try to convince girls that a technical or scientific career can be for them, not just for boys. I've spoken at several career events in the South East of England and mentored students and a schoolgirl through SEPnet and The Girls’ Network: the education I received should be as natural an option for girls, as it has been for me.

In addition, both Rising Voices and a family event made me realize how poorly the world treat minority language speakers. Now that I live in another country than mine, I fully understand how the lack of respect of one's language is a denial of a very personal part of their identity. I co-founded an organization to promote and publish material in one of these languages and I curate our Twitter account (@AcademieDuGallo). Some of you may have seen the memes we made for the Mother Language Meme Challenge co-organized by Rising Voices and to which our organization was a partner.

Among what I would like to work on if elected:

  • Find a way to give a better visibility for the original publications on the Lingua websites.
  • Now that GV exists in all the major languages of the world (and then some!), expand Lingua to minority languages. For example, in the coming years Europe is going to witness a movement of renewed pride in its citizens’ regional languages. GV could be among the first international media to give them a voice.
  • Make us famous! I only found GV when I was looking for a volunteer translation opportunity. Neither my family nor my circle of friends or coworkers (in at least 8 countries), all reasonably well informed and politically minded, had ever heard about Global Voices until I told them about us. This is wrong, everyone should know about the work we do.

But these are only a couple of my ideas, and what truly matters is, as they say, the sum of us: our community is always boiling with ideas, topics, questions, and it's fantastic to witness. It's crucial that the volunteers know that they can share them and contribute in shaping GV's evolution. That's where the two Volunteers’ Representatives come in, and that is the voice I hope to become: yours.

I have learned and received a lot from everyone at Global Voices since the day I started working with you and I am thankful for everything, but now it is time for me to express my gratitude in a more constructive manner and give back to our community.

Start the conversation, ask me your questions here in the comments, by email or via Twitter.

Thank you for reading!
Gwen:
Email me at my contact form!
@DiffractedWord

11 comments

  • Best of luck, Gwen. Thanks for sharing.

  • Hi Gwen,

    What a powerful statement with a very focussed approach!

    Wish you good luck in the forthcoming elections and hope you get the position in order to contribute further to the cause!

    Best regards,

    Sandeep Silas

  • Good luck, Gwen.

  • Hi Gwen – here is a question that I’m posing to all of the candidates, as a way to encourage discussion during the last couple of days of campaigning. Even though you did mention three priority areas, perhaps you can expand on the one you feel the most important?

    1.) If you are elected board member, what would be the most critical challenge facing Global Voices that you would make your top priority to help address over the next three years? And why do you feel like addressing this challenge is especially important for our community?

  • Hello Eddie, and everyone!

    In short: my third point, making GV famous! I keep talking about GV and its mission and I keep getting that blank stare: people are interested but unaware of who we are and what we do.

    This is somehow an uncomfortable truth, but one I believe we must address urgently, for 2 reasons:

    – I don’t see why we shouldn’t be as famous as well known national and international news outlets. After all some of them are using or republishing or articles (such as the Guardian), and we partnered with many other online media. We are not, but we mustn’t become a soon-to-be-forgotten trend!

    – Out of respect for the community itself! We are not writing and translating for ourselves. If I were elected, my personal duty would be to seek recognition for the dedication, generosity and professionalism of our writers and translators.

    I do what I can on personal level (like I know we all do!) but a concerted effort from the whole organization could achieve so much more: why not turn some of us into volunteer marketers, or get some involved to become a 3-face media of authors, translators and marketers? This is only one example, but I’m sure that the community would have a treasure chest of ideas.

    Ultimately, why do I feel about this so strongly? Some Lingua websites have often mentioned the difficulty to find writers and translators, and the correlated difficulty to function on a limited team. A better recognition of the media itself can only improve these teams’ chances to attract more volunteers. Even in larger teams, what better motivation than to know that the world follows what we do and knows we’re doing something important together?

    Why am I good person to address this? That’s where my analytical background will help : I build my scientific career around starting up new activities of all sorts. I’m comfortable being the outsider and know how to use that position. I’m comfortable asking the difficult questions, considering possibly unorthodox solutions, looking for what works and what doesn’t equally.

    All of us together, we have the answers, I know it. Let’s find them!
    Gwen.

  • Gwen, thank you for all these wonderful, frank and passionate ideas. Following Eddie’s lead, I’m asking all the candidates a question too.

    Do you have any thoughts on how Global Voices can scale the trust we’ve built internally in our community to larger audiences outside of our community, so we can make more of the world look like GV?

    I don’t think there are any right or wrong answers to this question. In fact, I’m not sure I have answers myself (!), but would love to hear any thoughts that it inspires.

    Good luck in the election!

    • Hi Sahar, and thank you for your ambition:) Making the world look more like GV, what a task! I think I would be a candidate to the French presidential elections if I had an answer to this one!

      Years ago, I watched an interview of an opera singer who was convinced that one person couldn’t change the world, but only those immediately around us, who would do so in turn etc. I think this is true for most of us. Exceptions like Trump or Mother Teresa have a much wider reach but still, to which extent…

      So I would say, we should start leading by example, which is one thing GV is naturally good at: the willingness to communicate and understand each others’ cultural differences (e.g. this superb conversation on deodorants that triggered something so much wider than that!), the joy in sharing the common values and the celebration of the differences, the natural international cooperation and friendship. This is something beautiful and rare that we could showcase.

      More concretely, how could we do that… here is my 2-min brainstorm:
      – Ask the community what they think we should do!
      – Promote and turn these random conversations into “proper GV” articles. Who knows, maybe people would comment with more enthusiasm on these, just like we did in email threads. We could imagine a category such as “the GV Life, a big and small world”… with a catchier title :)
      – Collect a few of these topics, some on everyday life, media, traditions, politics, and if we trust ourselves and our community, organise “intercultural workshops” to reach out to the public what we think a global world could be with more empathy and cooperation.
      – Of course, continue to use every single member of the community to showcase the values of GV, in their social media and immediate surroundings, so that even if we can’t change the world today, each of us can still aim to change those around us.

      Now, brainstorming this with the rest of the community… I can’t wait :)

      Best, Gwen.

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