Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving


October 4th, 2014

My dissertation is available through Scholarworks at the University of Massachusetts.



“Language is the medium and progenitor of discourse.”

~ Evangelina Holvino ~


This dissertation began twenty-five years ago, long before I entered graduate school, with the Deaf and Hearing members of the Bilingual-Bicultural Committee at the Indiana School for the Deaf.  By living what it means to be an ally, you gave me a taste of the possible and set my life on course. Together, all of you had achieved a large cohesive group where difference mattered but was not allowed to get in the way. I have not yet encountered another group with such a broad range of diversity and clearly shared purpose.

My American Sign Language teachers, Laurel Sack, Ann Reifel and Laurene Simms, and my interpreting mentor, Evelyn Thompson, taught me practical lessons while guiding me along the intricate path of Deaf Culture and ASL. The Deaf and professional sign language communities in Indiana were collegial and supportive of newcomers like me, a phenomenon repeated when I moved to Vermont. Graduate school was more formidable. I sought to reveal my learning process openly, to expose the development of knowledge. Peers (especially in my cohort) and professors stimulated intellectual growth, encouraging critical reflection of my convoluted path. I have made lifelong friends, both inside and outside the department. The person I have become is largely due to all of you.

It was the widespread, globe-spanning network of community interpreters who helped me gain entry to the European Parliament. During the first research trip, interpreters took me under wing, participating enthusiastically in interviews and offering support, advice, and encouragement. Thank you, especially, Annmarie Sauer and Burckhard Doempke. During the second trip, a broader range of people supported this project. Of course the Members who volunteered deserve the deepest thanks for squeezing me into extraordinarily full schedules, directing Assistants to support this research project, and granting me access to many formal and informal meetings. I am also grateful to the many permanent administrative staff of the Parliament who helped in a variety of ways, also including interviews. Confidentiality prevents naming most of the people who helped, however, my respect and appreciation includes all of you along with Julie Clancier, Caroline Ausserer, HeLena Seel, and Rachel Sheppard. In particular, Dirk Sterckx granted me a stagiaire’s badge, and Jean Lambert allowed me to observe the many stages of the trialogue process: this access enabled the broadest possible range of observations, enhancing the depth and quality of findings.

Most significantly, Veerle Duflou and Jeff Kappen provided insider perspectives on matters pertaining to the Parliament and international management, respectively. Jeff helped with translations of my initial research invitation to the Members of the European Parliament, shared relevant academic articles, and thought carefully with me about the implications and potentials of language difference as a source of creativity. Veerle’s dual experience as a scholar and a professional interpreter for the Parliament rescued me from numerous misunderstandings and misrepresentations. Of course, everything I have written here is my own and does not necessarily reflect anyone else’s views. All errors are mine alone.

I am grateful to the John Benjamins Publishing Company, Peter Lang, and the editors of the Journal of Interpretation for permission to include material here that they have already published, and to professional colleagues Robyn Dean, Robert Lee, Peter Llewellyn-Jones, and Jemina Napier for facilitating authorization to include figures from your important contributions. Eileen Forestal, Cynthia Napier, Berle Ross Whitby, Lynn Dey, Eryn Shaughnessy, Angela Jones, Laurie Needles, Stephanie Cramer, and everyone who participated in the first online training of Interpreting as Stewardship, provided a crucial testing ground for turning these ideas into practical applications. Our dialogue improved the clarity of this writing. Remaining confusions are, I hope, indicators of the edge of change in training, practice and participation that will improve the experience and outcomes of interpreting for everyone.

The US Fulbright Association underwrote the main fieldwork with Members of the European Parliament. Not only would the project have been impossible without that financial support, I cannot imagine better circumstances for this research subject. Events hosted by the US State Department and the Belgian Fulbright Commission offered exposure to a range of European institutions, customs and cultural events, while allowing me to meet fascinating Fellows who enhanced my comprehension of the context of language diversity in Europe.

Without the support of friends and colleagues who believe in me, this dissertation might never have been completed. James Cumming, Annie Mara, Kim Buote, Li Gu, David Boromisza-Habashi, Maria Claudia Lopez Perez, Shabnam Beheshti, Cat Lanser, Jules (Nelson) Hill, Sarbjeet Singh, Amalia Johnson, Elizabeth Cordova, Judy Raiffa, John Smith, Kim Fletcher, David de Smit, Shakuntala Ray, and Razvan Sibii, you’re the best. I am honored to be your friend. (Let the disclaimers continue!) Motivation has also come indirectly, from those who may or may not have wished to provide inspiration but did so, nonetheless. Also, the comfort I have been given by cats exceeds gratitude. Mei Mei stoically sat on the desk by me for many, many months, channelling perseverance.

I remain thrilled to have had as wide and diverse a committee shepherding me along. My chairperson, Leda Cooks, read thousands of pages of drafts, providing pinpoint feedback at exactly the right moments in the process: a perfect balance of critique and encouragement. We both know I would not have pulled this off without you. The areas of expertise brought by Martha Fuentes-Bautista and Briankle Chang shaped my thinking in crucial ways, and Carey Dimmitt’s perspective on what would be interesting and valuable to audiences beyond communication scholars bolstered my attempt to write for as broad a readership as possible. Edwin Gentzler’s participation was simultaneously humbling and inspiring. I hope the work lives up to the guidance each of you has provided.

Thanks Mom, for everything. I will keep writing.

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