Representation Matters

My meetings with members this week were not particularly eventful. Instead, I will discuss my translation work so far in order to expand CEF’s capacity for Latinx member services. I have come to realize how difficult it is to translate. Not because I’m not familiar with or uncomfortable writing in Spanish, but because of the nuances of the services and advocacy that our organization does. I am not necessarily putting pressure on myself to have a translation, but rather a translation that preserves the integrity of CEF’s mission and message. I have learned from people in the start-up community that many companies and organizations at-large have growing pains not solely because of logistics or capital, etc, but rather because it can be difficult to expound a company’s mission to a larger audience – be it employees, clients, socioeconomic and racial demographics, or geography.

Effectively having only one member to test out our weaknesses in Latinx member services, it has been a continuous learning process about what is truly important to convey to our members. For example, even though I had translated membership orientation documents at my disposal, it wasn’t until after my meeting that I realized we didn’t have a translated copy of our member surveys. Little things like that add up. They can either greatly improve or ruin a member’s impression and experience of our organization. This is why I believe in having an inclusive community, not only at CEF, but at many other organizations, partnerships, and companies as well. We need to embrace the Latinx community so that they can be part of – and want to be part of – the greater dialogue that is shaping government policy, urban growth, and be able to have access to valuable resources.

This is why I am looking forward to a meeting one of my colleagues set up a couple of weeks from now with the Tilde Language Justice Cooperative in order to learn about tools that could make it easier and more efficient for us to communicate our mission to the Latinx community. Trust cannot be established without efficient communication. When I first started in May, I asked one of CEF’s co-Directors why member recruitment from the Latinx community has been so low. The most important factor she mentioned was trust, and our limited capacity of translated services has impeded that process. This is why I believe my work with CEF is imperative and consequently hope to help establish the foundation and momentum necessary to better serve a growing demographic in our community, because representation matters.

Cristian; Portfolio; Bio

Cristian Santiago is a rising senior economics major from Tampa, Florida. Cristian is committed to helping vulnerable populations, work he sees as abundant. He will be working to better understand and address urban planning and gentrification issues with Community Empowerment Fund in Durham, NC, a nonprofit organization that focuses on interrelated issues of housing, employment, and financial independence for low-income residents.

Christian is a 2018 undergraduate Pursuit of Purpose participant.

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