Page 8 - catching memory front cover draft E.psd
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Two Languages / One Community began as a workshop that uses writing and translation
to exchange culture and life experience between African Americans and Chinese
speakers. Often these communities are culturally isolated from one another even
though they live in the same neighborhood or work together. We believe that
sharing stories and language facilitates understanding and connection.

Our first session as workshop leaders at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center began with a
reading of our writing in English and Chinese focused on the theme of family. The work
we shared served as a writing prompt for workshops participants to write their own
poetry and prose. Part of the translation process happened in real-time as the writers
read their works-in-progress out loud, and the group discussed the meaning of words in
their writing that might be a challenge to translate.

We were especially pleased with the writers telling their culturally specific stories.
We celebrated their contributions at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center in a public
program where they read their work. All the writing produced in the workshops appears
in Catching Memory. One workshop participant translated her work into Japanese,
providing an unexpected bonus that expanded our project from two to three languages.

We are proud of the agility and openness of the project. It can be tailored to fit all ages,
novice and seasoned writers, and with languages other than English and Chinese. We
are excited by the prospect of taking the project to other communities.

Our sincere gratitude goes to the participating writers: Keh-Ming Lin, Cecilia Graybeal,
Paula Marie Parker, Denise Pate, Dera R. Williams, Michael Wong, and Midori Fujioka.
We appreciate the support of the staff at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, especially
Pam Mei Graybeal, who shepherded us through every stage of this venture. Special
thanks to Ashley Bullitt for underwriting this chapbook and the funders of the Two
Languages / One Community project lead by the Zellerbach Family Foundation, with
additional funds from the City of Oakland, City of Oakland Cultural Funding Program,
and Poets and Writers. Finally, thanks to Hugh Behm-Steinberg for bringing his design
and book production skills to this project.

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