This is a guest post by one of the SoundCloud Community Fellows, Alex Stiver.
“The destiny of human rights is in the hands of all our citizens in all our communities.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
Who Am I?
Hi, I’m Alex, a proud member of the first cohort of SoundCloud Fellows! I hail from the great city of Toronto and, fitting squarely into a Northern stereotype, love both maple syrup and snowy winters (they’re even great together!). I feel equally passionately – though less nationalistic – about road trips, iced coffee, and hip pop dance parties.
I’m a social anthropologist, which means that I am fascinated by how people behave in social groups. Studying the variety, the patterns, and the head-scratching contradictions of social life has led me to interesting project work in branding and strategy, in research, and in public sector initiatives. I’m revved up by demographics, digital anthropology, and trying to identify the underlying logic of social behaviour. The conclusion of these social studies – that we’re all the same…but different, but, well…the same? – is also what inspired an interest in human rights. And this project.
My Fellowship Project
My first introduction to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was under less-than-perfect circumstances: a World Studies class pop quiz. Even then, my pre-teen self recognized the importance of the Declaration’s message for human rights.
Flash-forward to present day: older, a little wiser, and minus a boy band-plastered locker. Through the study of anthropology, in researching policy, and in crafting public sector communications, I can appreciate much more fully the challenges in, and the benefits of, a text like the UDHR, one that works to define and outline the concepts of “human rights” and “fundamental freedoms” for everyone. Since its adoption in 1948, the UDHR has been standing firm as a global statement on human rights: inspiring and supporting rights movements, influencing national constitutions, and contributing to international law.
Translated in 370 languages and dialects, the UDHR is not only the most widely translated text in the world, but is also a great unifier, providing solidarity of message through varied sounds from all corners of the world. It’s an important message; it’s an optimistic message; it’s a universal message. Only downside? An easily accessible archive of the translations in audio is tough to find online.
Enter the United_Sounds project.
Embracing the ‘go big or go home’ philosophy, the aim of United_Sounds is: to create the largest online collection of audio recordings of the UDHR, representing as many translations as possible.
Former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said that “an essential element in protecting human rights [is] a widespread knowledge among the population of what their rights are and how they can be defended”. With your help, United_Sounds can be part of that engaging and educating effort.
Beyond an archive of audio recordings, the project is structured to promote critical listening, careful contemplation, collaborative discussion, and crucial learning. But United_Sounds is only as successful as the community rallying around it: that’s YOU!
So…proud of your Pipil, master of Maori, the dude of Dutch? Know someone who wants to flex their Mazateco muscles, chat in Cebuano, or yammer in Yoruba? There are many ways to get involved with United_Sounds: record your own submission, add a comment about your favourite excerpt, listen to the different rhythm and cadence of the various participating languages, even submit an audio message about what human rights mean to you in your country!
Join the project
…and get involved!
Links to get you started
As one of the 6 official languages of the United Nations, and with numbers of global speakers estimated as high as 1.8 billion (yep,billion), the English translation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights kicks off the United_Sounds project.
Though the message of the UDHR is the same across all 370 translations, the sounds of the Declaration in Icelandic might be less familiar to the ear. Give it a listen, and leave a note in the comments sharing what you think.
Finally: pumped up to get involved with United_Sounds? Got some linguistic skillz that you – or someone you know – can’t wait to put to good use. Learn about the submission process here.
Meet the other fellows: