Yesterday was my first day actually doing something at the shelter! I am working on editing and strengthening a grant proposal for the shelter right now. A lot of editing, a lot of highlighting and re-writing. It kind of feels like I’m in school again!
It is pretty interesting editing the proposal for a couple of reasons. The first is the way it is written. Normally while editing papers of my own or of my friends the main thing to worry about is the grammar, or how awkward a sentence is. With this, though, I am editing something that was written in someone’s second language.
With this the issue ends up being more about the way that the sentences are put together, the order in which the words are placed to try and get across what they are saying. The language structures are pretty different in English versus in Nepali, and this comes through when I am editing. Little things, like the fact that the verb is put at the end of the sentence in Nepali becomes so much more clear here. The normal structures that vary from language to language become so much more pronounced. It means rearranging the sentence so that it makes sense in English, while still retaining the ideas that those who wrote the first draft of the grant were originally trying to get through.
Then, of course, there are the issues of tense and number. Things which show up once in a while in papers (hey, I’ve been guilty of switching tense in the middle of a story, not gonna lie), but which show up a lot more when the language is not your native tongue. It makes me pay a lot more attention when editing, and also means I need to spend longer at times reading and re-reading a paragraph to make sure that I am editing it to say what it is supposed to say. Also to make sure that, even when editing and rearranging the words, I am not butchering the voice.
The second thing that I really like about this process is that I get to learn a lot more about the NGO that I am volunteering at. I got a chance to read the articles written about them over the past couple years, and have a copy of their profile to read, which gives me a pretty good idea of what it is that they do, and the main issues that the women here face. These materials act as a background for me, and a base of knowledge when I am here, and when I am reading. Reading the proposal, though, I can start to tell what issues play the biggest roles. Many times these issues that play a larger part in what the shelter is working for, and working against, are repeated more often. They are emphasized more greatly to the reader, and appear bigger. This may be just by accident, but it does seem like something that happens for a reason.
It was only the first day working, but it’s really nice to finally get to start doing something productive (other than wandering the streets all day), and to start to figure out why am here, and the work that I am doing. It makes me feel a bit more at home to be busy, and to be busy doing something that I know is really useful to someone other than myself.