Students at College of William and Mary worked to translate mental health information from English to Chinese April 20, 2016. This event brought together Chinese learners and speakers to help translate the information and begin a conversation about mental health within the community.
This “translate-a-thon” was organized in order to raise awareness about mental health among Chinese-American and international students. It was also intended to help eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health in the Chinese-American and international community. By discussing this topic openly, the organizers hoped to reduce this stigma.
Howe Wang ’16 organized the translate-a-thon last year. He said he did not intend for the event to encourage people to seek help but rather to start a conversation. He also said he was excited about the possibility of friendships forming between the native and non-native speakers during the event.
“I want to create a closer community where people are more comfortable to talk about mental health and to reduce the language barrier that might prevent these conversations,” Wang said.
The event paired together a native and non-native speaker who worked together to translate mental health pamphlets from English to Chinese. The pamphlets were provided by the Counseling Center. The pamphlets were from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Counseling Center Self-Help Brochures and included topics such as coming out, cross-cultural journey for international students, relationship ready-ness, identifying eating disorders, racism and race-related stress, self-confidence, suicide prevention, understanding and treating anxiety, and understanding and treating depression.
“I first went to the counseling center to see what sort of materials they had easily accessible to the public and they had a bunch of pamphlets regarding a variety of topics, so that’s what I used,” Wang said.
Director of First Year Experience Lauren Garrett helped to distribute the translated information during the new student and family events in China last summer. Garrett said she would like to see this partnership continue. Garrett said that the translated pamphlets helped to engage new students and families in conversations about personal health and wellness, especially during the student’s transition into university life.
“The idea of many students working together to translate W&M documents for their incoming peers is a heart-warming thought, and quite in character for our student body,” Garrett said in an email. “W&M students tend to be extremely caring of one another and keen on supporting new students.”
Associate Director of the Confucius Center Ying Liu Ph.D. helped with publicity and funding for the translate-a-thon. The Confucius Institute sponsored the event and provided $500 for the event, including catering. Liu said that the mental health information would be very helpful for Chinese students and their families to have access to. She emphasized that this would allow parents of the students to have access to mental health information as well.
Liu said that some Chinese speakers do not consider mental health an issue or something to be fixed. Instead, they think it is something that will simply go away eventually. She said they would sometimes not consider treatment for depression or bipolar disorder in the Chinese-American community. She said that these translated pamphlets would bring awareness to this issue.
Liu said that after the event the Confucius Institute edited the translated information and then sent it to the Reves Center for International Studies.