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Multicultural Attendance Requires Multiple Translators

by Captain Donna Ames – 

The Great Victory Congress is truly a multi-cultural event as it brings together the rich diversity of the Western Territory. Among the 8,000 Salvationists gathering in Long Beach this weekend are more than 25 distinct language and ethnic groups.

The Congress translation committee, under the direction of Captain Phil Lum, has had the task of providing translation of the main Congress events in up to 10 languages. They include: Spanish, Laotian, Korean, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), Marshallese, Portuguese, Russian, Tagalog, Visayan and Pohnpeian. In addition, some of the special cross cultural events are being translated into English. A special Congress cross-cultural song book has been produced providing translation into four languages.

After English, Spanish is the most spoken language throughout the territory. Thirteen hundred delegates have requested translation into that language. Many more delegates speak Spanish as their first language and come from one of the 48 Hispanic corps and outposts. For this reason, a special Hispanic rally took place Saturday night. A committee under the direction of Majors Fernando and Nancy Martinez planned a program of exciting worship music, testimonies and celebration. Lt. Colonel Roberto Frías, chief secretary for the Latin America North Territory, brought the message, and General and Mrs. Radar brought personal greetings. A crowd of about 2,500 attended this event.

Four cross cultural prayer breakfasts, offered to delegates in their own languages, took place this morning, with a combined attendance of 400. The Korean breakfast featured our own territorial leaders, Commissioners Peter and Grace Chang. Members of the Korean delegation to the Congress participated, with the message brought by Colonel Lee, Sung-duk, territorial commander of the Korean Territory. Lieutenants John and Ruth Lee, corps officers of the Los Angeles Korean Corps, coordinated this event and their corps band provided special music.

The West’s Lt. Colonel Check Yee (R) was the featured speaker for the Chinese prayer breakfast. Event coordinators Captains Robin and Tereasa Hu were thrilled that this former San Francisco Chinatown corps officer, now in post retirement service in mainland China, was available to accept the invitation.

The graceful and colorful cultural dancers of the Seattle Central Corps were featured at the Laotian prayer breakfast. Captains Bounmy and Manivene Luangamath are event coordinators and the message was brought by Whittier Laotian Corps Officer, A/Captain Mike Phrasavath.

Recent rapid corps growth in the Marshall Islands has led to a sizable number of delegates attending the Congress from that part of the territory. Captain William Mulch is coordinator and leader for this event. Participation and support was given by Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Divisional leaders, Lt. Colonels Chris and Janice Buchanan.

The Western Territory has a long history of reaching across barriers of language, race and culture to unite Salvationists under one flag. However, the 1997 Victory Congress sets a new standard of a Territorial Congress that is truly international.

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