September 16 2021 GM

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Glitter Meetups

Glitter Meetup is the weekly town hall of the Internet Freedom community at the IFF Square on the IFF Mattermost, at 9am EDT / 1pm UTC. Do you need an invite? Learn how to get one here.


The "Lingua Cafe" offers individuals the opportunity to improve their language skills while also supporting fellow community members in their language learning endeavours.

Language plays a key role in creating a thriving internet freedom and digital rights community, allowing community members to connect both professionally and socially, but can also be a barrier to entry for some. To help us organize the first language exchange we would love for you to join our initial feedback session! On September 16th, we will be introducing the event at the weekly Glitter Meetup, sharing potential formats for the language exchange, and tailoring Lingua Cafe's activities based on your feedback and learning needs and interests.

Can't join on September 16th? You can still help us tailor the Lingua Café to your needs by responding to the following questions:

  • English form here
  • Formulario en Español aqui

Your answers will be used for the organization of the Lingua Café.



Lingua Cafe ofrece la oportunidad de mejorar nuestras habilidades lingüísticas mientras apoyamos a las personas de nuestra comunidad en su proceso de aprendizaje de idiomas.

El lenguaje juega un papel clave en la creación de una comunidad próspera de libertad en Internet y derechos digitale, nos ayuda a conectarnos profesional y socialmente. Como una forma de construir relaciones y habilidades lingüísticas estamos nos emociona anunciar nuestro intercambio lingüístico comunitario, o "Lingua Cafe", que será presentado en el Glitter Meetup del 16 de septiembre! Discutiremos los posibles formatos del evento para que podamos adaptar el intercambio a los intereses y necesidades de los participantes.

No puedes venir al Glitter Meetup del 16 de Septiembre? Responde a esta breve encuesta para ayudarnos a planificar el intercambio de idiomas y para conocer más detalles sobre el evento de GM y las siguientes actividades:

  • English form here
  • Formulario en Español aqui


Let's start with the context of the project: Can you talk about the barriers you see in the Internet Freedom community that are created by language?

  • Team CommUNITY has made significant strides to make the community inclusive and open to digital rights workers around the globe. While there are regional groups where languages other than English are spoken, the fact remains that the majority of communications within the community, and within the international digital rights space, are in English. This can limit the engagement of individuals who don't speak English fluently and we all suffer from not benefiting from their diverse experience.
  • We can make spaces more inclusive by translating live events and documents, however, this does not allow members of different regions to effectively connect, professionally and personally.
  • Moreover, learning languages can help better understand different cultures, enabling collective solutions that are better tailored to the interests and needs of specific communities.
  • Erin had also noted this in the LocLab community where we have individuals who have strong reading and writing skills in English, however feel uncomfortable or struggle actively participating in community calls. And as a result, we don't get to hear their unique perspectives.
  • A participant added that they feel we don't talk enough about the emotional side of languages, how stressful it is to speak a language you don't think is yours in a community dominated by fluent speakers. It's a power struggle we have well installed.
  • It might also be important for us to mention that there are two separate challenges here: English being the dominant language in the space and exclusion of non-English speakers; and then the lack of linguistic diversity in the space.
  • The more we see 'native' speakers in positions of power, leading, speaking on behalf of others, the more we integrate this.
  • There is also interesting research into how disruptive "native" English speakers can be in the Global English-speaking world, and how we need to re-focus energy on "native" English speakers putting in the work to integrate to Global English norms.
  • Another individual said that some problems are also combined with the language barrier. Like internet access, time available to do activism or volunteer, even time zones. For example in the Tor and Tails project, volunteer translators with a good English tend, with the time, to also contribute to the code, or to the English text, more often.
  • This is also why open source is a bit non-representative when we talk about gender and class. Those who are able to volunteer time are those who don't have to spend every second of their lives looking for money.

Now about the project itself: What will the meetups look like?

  • There are many different ways to manage a language exchange. At physical language exchanges, individuals usually mingle as a larger group and then separate organically into small groups or pairs, or are separated into pairs or groups by a host based on language experience.
  • We are going to try to recreate this informal, social structure for the events, however 100% virtually. This will require more structure and planning than an in-person event where conversations can happen more organically. Options that we are considering are requiring RSVPs so that partners can be matched prior to the event, or matching individuals after an initial meet-and-great at the exchange and having them break into breakout rooms in small groups.
  • Conversation prompts will be provided to help guide the conversations between language exchange partners who will spend 50% of their breakout session in one language, and the other 50% of the time in a second language to ensure everyone is "giving" and "taking". In future, we hope to develop some Team CommUNITY, digital rights, themed prompts as well to help community members develop their comfort with professional jargon in our sphere.
  • We are really really interested however to hear more from this community about different individual needs when it comes to language learning.
  • This is not intended to be limited to English learning / teaching. We heard from community who speak Arabic and want to learn Spanish, or who speak Spanish and want to learn Portuguese…
  • Our vision is to help individuals personally and professionally develop language skills and also increase linguistic diversity in the space.
  • These sessions will be both text-based and via video. we will be tailoring the project to paricipants' interests and possibilities.

Who can attend these cafes? What is the ideal profile?

  • No language level is required. The only condition is to be open to supporting us in co- creating this project. It is a very first experience!
  • Because we are such a diverse community with varying language levels, we want to initially keep this very open to all. If you want to learn a language from zero, or if you are advanced and want to practice conversation, our hope is to match community members.
  • Like a traditional in-person language exchange, the pairings (1:1 or small group) will depend on who attends.
  • This is one reason why we are really interested in hearing from the community about which languages they want to learn and which languages they can help others with.
  • And we should also clarify that you don't have to be a native fluent speaker to "give" a language. As an example: I am not a fluent Spanish speaker, but I could definitely exchange basic Spanish with someone who can exchange a language that I am interested in learning.