Translating Values from Belfast to Derry

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Fifty people in total attended three workshops in Belfast, Cookstown and Derry from February to April 2015 facilitated by CRAIC NI. Two facilitators from CRAIC NI organised the workshops, attendance, venues and administration to support the research from Queen’s and Ulster Universities into ‘Translating Values.’

Translating Values” is an international research project directed by two academics based in Northern Ireland: Dr Piotr Blumczyński from Queen’s University and Professor John Gillespie from Ulster University. In their interaction with various ethnic, cultural and linguistic groups, CRAIC NI delivered three workshops in Belfast, Derry and Cooktown to explore the following questions:

  •  Do various cultures and religions value different things? How do they speak about them?
  • When we communicate in English rather than our native language, do we feel this affects our message – not just in terms of how we say it, but also what we say?
  • How important is our language to who we are and what we hold dear?
  • Can people and their values be translated?

We invited people to share their thoughts, feelings and opinions about these questions in a relaxed atmosphere, over a cup of tea or coffee to inform us what they think and felt mattered to us.


Good craic at Common Grounds kicked off in Belfast at our first session with this lively bunch of people of various backgrounds aged 20 to 50 from students, class assistants, community workers, professionals and business people representing across 10 language communities.

Getting acquainted was a great introduction as they spoke of family connections, others talked of landmark events around the time of birth and through this exercise there was a great understanding that our names hold values from its language.

In Cookstown at the Hub the group included Portuguese, Eastern European and Cant languages supported by the Coordinator of the CWSAN of which we are grateful for Ola Sobieraj’s support in assisting in finding a suitable venue, refreshments and encouraging participants to take part.

There was a consensus amongst this group of an understanding to barriers for communication and the group wished to address these in their future activities and work.

On moving to the Playhouse in Derry in April, the mix of the participants present was very interesting covering the obscure languages of Guyanese and Masai. It also had a balance of Polish, Mandarin, Korean and professional linguists present.

North West Migrants Forum felt the workshop was of higher value to their work than expected and will be relaying the importance of the research back to their group. The group suggested that this research would be important to young people and welcomed a follow up. We thank Lilian Sennoi Coordinator at North West Migrants Forum and her group for participating.

All in all at CRAIC NI we enjoyed facilitating the sessions for QUB and UU and thank Queens, University of Ulster and the participants for their valuable input. We will keep you posted of the results of the research and what happens next.

 “Language is part of our own culture and not speaking it does not diminish who we are as individuals.’” – Participant, Translating Values workshop, Belfast

Here is a selection of comments from the participants about the Translating Values workshops:

“Fascinating. Insightful to delve deeper into these issues and see that most people with 2 languages have a similar experiences”

“We have to be more open and talk more about our values; there are a lots of things which influence our daily lives and communication that we don’t have the opportunity to touch upon, this was a useful way to reflect the impact of translating values on our daily lives.”

“Very interesting”

“Valuable and good craic”

“Fascinating discussion”

“Very interesting workshop, especially the conversations, plus the exchange with others. More time needed!!”

By Eileen Chan-Hu and Maciek Bator,


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