Results Think Tank “The working language of AEGEE-Groningen”

The topic of the Think tank held on the 10th of December 2019 was the working language within our association. The main goal of the evening was de presentation of and the discussion about a proposed timeline, composed by the board, in order to eventually fully translate all aspects of our association to English.

The proposed timeline consisted of five translating goals: the General Members Assembly (GMA), the new Strategic Plan 2020-2023, the promotion of doing a board year, the Internal Regulations (IR) and the Statutes. First all of these goals were discussed separately from each other in order to determine the pro’s and cons of translating them and to chart out possible obstacles and consequences. After this the entire timeline was discussed, to see if it was too optimistic (too fast) or if the changes could be done more quickly.

The first subject was the translation of the GMA. Currently, the GMA is held in Dutch, although a small exception was made during the Semi-annual GMA last year for the presentation of the delegates for Spring Agora Bucharest, because one of the candidates was an international. The most important reason for translating the GMA is opening up the possibility for internationals to participate in the GMA. The general attitude towards this proposal was positive, but a few obstacles were pointed out. First of all, translating the GMA could hinder participants who are not very good at English. However, we do think that the amount of members that can’t speak English at a sufficient level is smaller than the amount of members that cannot speak Dutch at this point in time. Secondly, a question was asked whether the GMA could still be held in Dutch in case no international members are present. This is possible, because the language of the GMA can be changed by a motion if the members wish to do so. It does, however, mean that the minutes of the GMA will be written in Dutch as well, which makes it harder for internationals to prepare for the next GMA.

The second subject was the new Strategic Plan 2020-2023. This plan outlines a general direction for the policy of the next three years. All members present agreed that this document should be written in English, because it will be used for a longer time and it will only be used internally. Additionally, translating this document makes it possible for internationals to help write it.

The third subject was the promotion of doing a board year. This is a first step to make it possible and attractive for international members to become a part of the board. The university is also making efforts to bring this possibility to the attention of international students. The motivation for this change is the fact that some international members have expressed their interest in this possibility. For this change a few obstacles were mentioned as well. First of all, this is only a small step. Many internal documents that are essential for the preparation for a board year are not translated yet. Additionally, some people feared that promotion in English could scare away potential candidates if they do not speak English very well and do not want to work in an international team or write their policy plan in English because of that. Finally, some board functions might not be practical for an international member to fill in, because communication from those functions often takes place in Dutch. Specifically, this concerns the positions of President, Secretary and Fundraising Responsible. It was concluded that board promotion will be done bilingually for the time being.

The fourth subject was the translation of official documents, in other words, the Statutes and the IR. These documents to not necessarily have to be translated to facilitate the rest of the changes, but it is more practical in the long term, because it is very difficult to discuss changes to these documents at a GMA in English if the documents themselves are still in Dutch. Furthermore, future international board members could experience trouble understanding these documents.

Translating the Statutes has cost associated with it, because it has to be done through a notary. Also, the translating of the text in these documents is difficult, because the language used is very formal and exact. Within the association it will be difficult to find people with the right expertise, which means we would need professional help. It will also take time. In the meantime, there is the possibility of using approximate translations of parts of the IR when changes to them are discussed, so we can do so in English as planned.

The last subject of the evening was the proposed timeline. The first upcoming milestone is the upcoming Semi-annual GMA. This will be held in English, but not all documents discussed will be translated yet. This is because these documents are already being written at the time of this discussion. In order to ensure that international members can prepare for the GMA, they will be welcome to come to the office for an explanation of all documents. Candidatures for vacant positions will be discussed in English at the GMA. The second change takes place around March this year. Then the new Strategic Plan will be written in English. The third change is during the Election GMA. Here, candidates for the XXXIIIrd board will present themselves in English. The fourth change is during the Transfer GMA. At first the board proposed to discuss all topics in English, apart from the year report of the current board, because this report is closely based on the Dutch policy plan. In the end, we decided to translate these documents as well.

Finally, it was decided that a survey would be made to poll the opinions of members that could not be present at the Think tank. We asked each respondent to indicated about each change if they were in favour of the current plan, if they thought it was going too fast or if they thought it was going too slowly. They could also leave additional comments. The results to this survey were as follows. There were 36 respondents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change 1: Semi-Annual GMA 2020
27 in favour of the current plan
5 think it is going too fast
4 think it is going too slowly

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change 2: Promotion for a board year
30 in favour of the current plan
4 think it is going too fast
2 think it is going too slowly

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change 3: Strategic Plan 2020-2023
33 in favour of the current plan
2 think it is going too fast
1 think it is going too slowly

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change 4: Election GMA
30 in favour of the current plan
6 think it is going too fast
0 think it is going too slowly

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change 5: Transfer GMA
33 in favour of the current plan
3 think it is going too fast
0 think it is going too slowly

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change 6: Semi-Annual GMA 2021
33 in favour of the current plan
3 think it is going too fast
0 think it is going too slowly

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change 7: Official documents
32 in favour of the current plan
2 think it is going too fast
1 think it is going too slowly

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonus question: are you willing and able to help translated the Internal Regulations?
30 No
6 Yes

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