Meet Fang-Ling, who joined Global Voices as a way to “Contribute”

FangLing

Global Voices interviews Chinese Lingua Editor, FangLing, about her experience with GV and a lot more!

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you joined GV
When I was a university student, I had been one of the core members of an NGO that primarily conducts home building projects in the Philippines for 3 years; besides, I also joined a volunteering project serving northern Thailand for a year during the same period. I’ve always been paying attention to human rights and development issues especially for those related to inequality and underprivileged groups in the society. I was also a business student and now I work as a financial consultant primarily engaging in M&A-related valuation.

Sometimes I find my role self-contradictory, for the reason that I care a lot about equality but the world of finance and capitalism is unequal itself, and I am part of it. Therefore, after I graduated from the university, I had been long looking for a way to “contribute” myself for the value I believe in. I found GV a year before I submitted my application form and had been a regular reader since.

I would say I joined GV kind of because of the intensified Syria war, which has been a major topic of news on global media for very long while in Taiwan, only few news channels cover it from time to time. Initially, I decided to join GV because I wanted to let more Taiwanese people (even all traditional Mandarin readers) know more about this war. Later on, I realized there are far more issues which are “ignored” or “missed”, not only in Taiwanese channels but also in international ones. This fact drives me to continue with more translating and editing on GV until today.

Please tell us about the stages of your involvement within GlobaI Voices
My time being merely a translator was not very long even if this role is the main reason for me to join and stay in the GV family. Since January 2016, I have been mainly a proofreader and an editor; October 2016, I got the administrator account of the simplified and traditional GV Chinese sites and started to have more contacts with GV people thanks to Gohary.

Did your experience of translating, authoring and editing change your vision of the world during this time? Does your work with GV impact your practice in your job? Did the social media scene change a lot in your region since, say, 2009?
I would like to share an interesting fact regarding the second question. The social media scene and even the society in Taiwan do change a lot since a few years ago, not since 2009 though, but since 2013. After the Death of Hung Chung-chiu in Taiwan in 2013. The role of social media was not just for leisure anymore; people at that time shared their anger on social media (maybe just like even before) and initiated a series of social movements (which had never happened before) which greatly influenced the whole society. These movements also include the more famous Sunflower Movement.

Are you an active blogger? If so, what place does your blogging hold in your daily life?
No. The only social media I am actively using is Facebook.

Could you also elaborate somewhat on how you manage your own time for all these tasks, including your day job? Any tips?
I am still trying to balance all the things. There’s no specific peak period for my job, which could be very intense if projects are urgent, so my leisure time is not very predictable.

What were your previous experiences translating? Was it very different from what you had done before?
Previously I did translation for Microsoft for one year to help localize its product portfolios from English to Mandarin. It’s definitely very different from what GV is doing, either the aim of the contents or the contents themselves. The translated portfolio is a document limited to enterprise who are Microsoft’s potential customer, and the contents inside are mostly very technical terms. On the other hand, GV is an open platform for readers around the world and is not for commercial purposes.

And do you think your experience in GV is useful in other aspects?
Yes, definitely. I am really glad about the fact that GV is useful for the public. At first, I didn’t realize this fact because as a translator (at the beginning), I didn’t know who our readers are, and I didn’t know the impacts of our essays. But after obtaining the management account, I noticed some contributors join GV because they found GV when they were looking for some information regarding either international issues or more specifically, human right and advocacy issues. I am really happy about how GV Mandarin site can help people know more about “what’s happening in the world”, and hopefully raise some voices out of our readers.

Why do you think a man in the street should read GV in your language?
The local media in Taiwan still need to increase the weighing of international news. People here (the majority of traditional Mandarin readers are in Taiwan, and others are in Hong Kong and Macao) need to know more about what’s really going on in the world, and not only from the mainstream’s aspects. I do believe Taiwanese still have a lot of space to improve constructing (each person’s own) critical way of thinking, instead of just listening to what others say; considering this fact, different voices from different corners of the world are very important.

However, I don’t think each person here is able to (or is willing to) read articles in foreign languages especially when the article is about a completely unfamiliar topic. Localizing these articles can efficiently reduce the efforts of our potential readers, and this is why I think we need GV Mandarin.

What is your wish for the future of the Lingua site your language?
If I could have more available time, I wish to (i) hold workshops among contributors and readers to allow the public to know more about specific issues (discussed altogether by contributors each time before the workshop); (2) collaborate with student groups to hold some small events.

So let me ask you about your own dreams. What are your dreams?
My dream is to contribute my skill and profession to what I care about – even though I am still looking for any possible ways; I also wish to work with people sharing same dreams. I wish to see the equality being realized or at least enhanced all over the world, regardless of the social status, gender, destiny of each person. I have been thinking to pursue a career in a development bank in the future, in which I hope I can help make the world a little bit closer to my dream.

 In all the time you have been collaborating with GVO, what is your most memorable experience?
I think the most memorable experience for me so far is to translate, edit and publish one article that finally reached many people and was very much reposted: “In Hospital Bombing, Pakistan Lost a Whole Generation of Lawyers in Balochistan”. This article reached 172,846 people on our Facebook page and made 17,671 post clicks and 4,530 reactions, comments, and shares.

According to comments below our post, this incident aroused echoes because it reminded people of the history about White Terror period in Taiwan when intellectuals were also deliberately killed.

You discussed your relationship with Lingua. How is your site of GV doing?
Struggling kinda. People come and go, and in general, they disappear after one post (or not even). It’s really hard to keep people. We’ve been trying some different ways (such as creating accounts for each person once the application to GV is accepted, instead of obtaining the account only after 2 posts as the previous rules) but it doesn’t seem to work so far.

You discussed your relationship with Lingua. What are you doing, in your group to change this?
Still looking for a way to change the status quo because now the site is suffering from the too high turnover rate. We just introduced a new community on Slack, and hopefully, this platform can help make people feel the sense of belonging to GV, and contribute more actively.

How do you prefer to spend your free time? Any hobbies? Which routine did you set up? Do they enjoy it? Give me an example of your average day.
I love to stay in an independent coffee shop to spend my free time, either working on GV or just reading. My average weekday (if no need to work overtime) is: working, arriving home at 8 pm, having dinner, reading/GV/ talking with friends; my average weekend day (if no need to work..) is: wake up around noon, pick a coffee shop, bring my book and laptop with me and stay till late night.

Describe your work at your Lingua group and tell us about your plans and future hopes for the site?
Currently, my main task is to proofread and edit posts after contributors finish the translation. I hope to make our members feel more belonging to this group, making the site more like a small family.

The plan I just started is to create a Slack community among Lingua Chinese contributors and encouraged them to chat and share thoughts inside; if it works well, I would like to try to initiate small events (either online or in the real world) among contributors and readers.

One other thing I am planning to try is to send emails to contributors regularly (like how Gohary does) to update them the latest status of our site and how and what GV community is doing.

How do you see GV Lingua progressing over the next few years?
Currently, in Chinese Lingua community, we are applying a proofreading system, hoping to provide our readers with articles with high quality. We try our best to avoid to publish articles that look just like translated ones; our proofreaders and editors give notes in the article and specify “notes from editor” for explanations of unfamiliar nouns. We try our best to verify some of the contents that look a bit weird for us.

We are working together to make the GV Chinese site a place of international news which is ignored by major media (which is consistent with the GV spirit), reliable information (trying our best), for some pieces of knowledge well-written in the local language. This is our goal, and this is also the ideal GV Lingua for me.

Multilingualism is also at the heart of your concerns. Why is multilingualism important?
Firstly, it enables people to exchange thoughts beyond borders. As the internet nowadays allows people to communicate easily, one of the few barriers is the language (others include the willingness and stereotypes). People who are able to speak another (or some other) language can help the world to build a finer network among different groups of people; by this way, it is possible to deliver information to as many places as possible on earth.

After the sound communication among groups thanks to multilingualism, the next step is about the mutual understanding. If more information/opinions/stories are exchanged, we can expect to reduce or even eliminate stereotypes/prejudice among people by thinking in others’ shoes and to see a more peaceful and respectful world.

These two steps are both impossible without the contribution of multilingualism, and this is why I find it important for the modern world.

What is the GV spirit?
For me, it’s about providing a platform for the voices that are rarely heard by major media. I really love the fact that we care much about equality (among genders, races, religions, social statuses, etc.) and humanitarian and climate crises. GV is powered by a large group of volunteers and for me, this is the core of GV and what makes GV attractive for readers and contributors.

Social media are reputed to have played a part in the Arab uprisings. What are your feelings on that?
Now I am not quite sure… I was really excited when the Arab uprising started, and there were indeed many achievements such as the case of Tunisia, but more and more people have been displaced since then. I feel enthusiastic about the realization of democracy and the pursuit of liberty but meanwhile, I wish badly that the war in Syria had never broken out…

How do you pick posts to translate into your language, and, in fact, why did you choose to volunteer this way?
I basically picked topics which I think my Taiwanese fellows should know. I would rather say I “share” instead of “contribute” because I think I am simply sharing what I really care about the people I really care, and I think this is also the main reason why I chose to join GV.

You've been translating for GV for over three years, what would you say to those just starting out?
Translation takes time, and so do other works in GV. I wish you know what you want to gain from here, and always remember your motivation to join and contribute here. We always welcome new GVers but we love you to stay longer with us even more.

Venezuela has become a little bit of a “complicated” country, how do you see it from within?
I know it’s assertive to say so, but personally, I don’t think the new constitution will work. The status quo of either politics or economy has to be changed:

(i) The country applies a closed policy which keeps many foreign enterprises out of the country; I can imagine why some people / political leaders would favor the Socialism as well as the Protectionism, and as long as it is beneficial for citizens I am okay with it, but the current situation proves that the country is out of order, so the policies must be changed;

(ii) The economic structure of the country is crooked and the country relies too much on one single source of income; the country/ economy is too vulnerable in this way. If the government is not going to be changed, it’s essential for them to develop new industries instead of merely waiting for the oil price to rise (or waiting for fund from China and Russia, which will surely make the country even more vulnerable for its strong dependence on other countries);

(iii) However, I think the aforementioned two points are hard to be realized without the resignation of Maduro. Recently, more and more major media started to boldly predict that the end of Maduro era is foreseeable. I really hope the country will peacefully have an able leader with clear goals for the country who respect people’s opinions (Moreover, selected with people’s opinions).

Tell us about the city you live in.
Taipei is a busy and modern city. I don’t like how it is overcrowded, but I enjoy the fact that it’s safe and convenient, and I love the fact that there are always independent coffee shops around corners open till midnight. Taipei is close to nature since the city is in a basin, and the nearest beach is also just with driving distance. We also have been proud of our welcoming people and our friendliness with foreigner visitors.

And how would you describe your country to a foreigner?
Taiwan is an island country that is democratic, liberal, and being long suppressed by China (in all aspects), which claims to be a separate province. The semiconductor industry is our vital economic source, and our major brands include Asus, Acerr, and HTC. Seventy percent of our land is covered with forests, so we are not a concrete island as how many people would imagine ;-)

Taiwanese people are proud and (can be) offensive when people criticize the country but we feel inferior meanwhile when talking about international situation; yet because of the aforementioned fact, people here are nice and welcoming, and each person seems to bear the responsibility of “letting the world see us” — we hate our fellows when they behave disgracefully abroad or at international events; we love them when they impress foreigners.

Finally, describe yourself and how you see the world.
I am a person who draws a clear demarcation between whom or what to hate or love. I love to keep myself busy and take new challenges; I love caring and like-minded people who also think for others. I hate unethical or selfish hypocrites, I hate any forms of inequality, and I hate to see people judging before thinking.

Recently I am a bit upset with this world. UN makes no real impact to maintain the order of the world (the case of many countries under wars and turmoil); powerful countries act only for their own benefits even when they behave like peace-and-liberty advocates (e.g. the case of French president, Macron, when he was asked to comment on the death of Liu Xiaobo). I do believe there are a lot of people contributing to the world but I just wish these people’s kindness and efforts would pay off in this fierce interest-first world.

I don’t know what I can do to make even the slightest differences to this status quo, since I have been kind of in the so-called interest-first world (finance industry), and I have also been a contributor to some non-profit groups which value human rights (joined an NGO, participated several volunteer programs and now volunteered in GV). I always have a thought that my role in the aforementioned two different worlds (with different core values) can probably help to do something or even make a little bit impacts, but I am still thinking about how, and what I exactly I should do now to become that kind of person. I wish I can have a glimpse of the answer in GV, and I hope my way to see the world would change positively by then.

Thank you Fang-Ling for this very interesting interview!

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