25 Years of Shanti Bhavan

In 1997, Dr. Abraham George used his George Foundation to create the Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project. For a quarter of a century, the project has been redefining non-profit education. Based in George’s home country, the residential school takes children from the poorest areas of India and allows them to be the first in their families to attend preschool through college. They believe that one underserved child, given the same opportunities as other children, can break the cycle of systematic, generational poverty. Their holistic approach allows them to not only give these children an education, but also access to shelter, medical care, food, clothing, and a community they otherwise would not have. One hundred percent of their graduates can make more within five years post-graduate than their parents would be able to make in their lifetime.

The Residential school itself is run by faculty and caregivers in Tamil Nadu, India. But, in the United States, the Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project manages fundraising and partnerships and oversees education.

Last year, CambridgeEditors was lucky to work with Dr. George on his autobiography which details his life both in India and America, as well as his time building the Shanti Bhavan Project.

On November 5th, 2022, the project is hosting an event to celebrate 25 years of impact and their many success stories. It will be a night of looking back on the past quarter century, as well as looking towards the future. Their goal for the year is to raise $2 million to put towards expanding the project.

The evening will be about facilitating friendship and gratitude, as well as meeting Shanti’s first two students to attend Ivy League Universities: Sam and Dhanush, who both attend Dartmouth.

Both boys’ families had a yearly income of less than $1,000; Sam’s family only made  $30 a month. Sam’s mother had a weakened immune system which often required medical care. Along with medical issues, his family experienced religious persecution, and they were evicted from their home. Dhanush’s mother was diagnosed with cancer, and soon after his father abandoned their family causing Dhanush to take on much more responsibilities. Both boys were able to overcome these hardships with the help of Shanti Bhavan.

The event will take place at the Academy of Creative Arts in Burlington, MA. You can reserve tickets here: https://give.shantibhavanchildren.org/event/boston-ma-shanti-bhavans-25th-anniversary-celebration/e429926

Sophia Boyce, CambridgeEditors Team

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Project Spotlight: Clara Wu and the Warlock

CambridgeEditors is proud to have worked with author Vincent Yee on his five-book series Clara Wu Books. The series is a young adult Asian American fantasy adventure where Clara Wu, Sung Kim, Yuka Satoh, and Daniel Nguyen must battle a demonic Warlock to save the world. But they are not alone, as they are paired with their trustworthy Guardians: the panda, white tiger, red crown crane, and the water buffalo. Proofreading of the first four books in his series was done by Dr. Felicia Lee between March 2021 and August 2022. She will proofread the final book later this fall. 

Yee is a Boston native who currently resides in Cambridge, MA. He graduated from Suffolk University in ’94 and worked in various managerial roles before quitting corporate work during the pandemic. Despite working in the corporate world, Yee always had a dream “to write better Asian representation.” He had envisioned an Asian American fantasy trilogy, but as he began outlining it in October of 2020 it quickly went from three books to five.

Yee grew up on fantasy series such as Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter. But, there’s very little to no Asian representation in those books. He wanted to write a series where his friends’ kids could see themselves as the heroes and not just the sidekicks. Yee’s series includes Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese characters and makes sure to highlight Asian values from different cultures. While representation is always important, it’s especially imperative in the current climate of America, where Asian Americans are having to fight anti-Asian sentiments in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. His stories are helping combat the negative stereotypes that exist in the country right now.

While he wants to show Asian Americans can be heroes, Yee also wants to help people reconnect with their culture. Having his characters embrace and love being authentically Asian is a prominent part of his fantasy series. As food is a big part of Asian culture, and is typically something Americans ridicule, Yee made sure it was a main feature of the books. Not only does he love his culture’s food, but his heroes can’t fight demonic warlocks on an empty stomach!

To catch up on the series before the final book comes out later this year, the first four books are all available online on Amazon & Kindle, as well as Barnes and Noble. If you’re in the Boston area, you can also pick up his books at Brookline Booksmith at 283 Harvard St., Brookline, MA. Or, if you’re in New York, you can find the series at You and Me Books, 44 Mulberry St., New York Chinatown.

Sophia Boyce, CambridgeEditors Team

Young readers’s reading Yee’s book at Brookline Booksmith.

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Project Spotlight: Theatre and Hull House

CambridgeEditors is glad to have been able to work with Stuart Hecht, an associate professor at the theatre department at Boston College.

Hecht’s book project, edited by CambridgeEditors, focuses on Hull House theatre and the history of theatrical art and progressive reform. Hecht discusses the legacy of Jane Addams, recognizing theatre in the 1970s and more recent years that ties back to Hull House.

Hull House, founded in 1889, was Chicago’s first social settlement. It offered social services to the surrounding community, including legal aid, employment offices, childcare, education, and arts programming. Jane Addams was a central figure in organizing this settlement. The services this project provided greatly impacted the way social activists have thought about what kinds of community services are important to an area.

In his project on Hull House, Hecht identifies how the settlement’s theatre programming worked towards social reform—using the arts to promote social rehabilitation.

Hecht’s project is a work of dramaturgy. Dramaturgy refers to a study of theatrical composition that identifies the most important parts of a play and considers the best way to stage it in the current moment. Before becoming a professor at Boston College, Hecht was a resident dramaturg for the Wisdom Bridge Theatre in Chicago and has been recognized as a very prominent dramaturg in the field. Dramaturgy considers history deeply in order to put on a performance—looking at the history and context of a playwright to decide what will resonate most in a modern-day performance     .

Hecht’s project on the legacies of Hull House dives into the history of Chicago and thinks about the purpose of art in the context of social work. The art programming at Hull House seems to have had a strong internal impact on the participants of the settlement’s programs while they were trying to improve other external factors in their lives, such as their economic positions.

Hecht ends his introduction by writing: 

“So as much as this is the story of theatrical activities at a particular sponsoring organization, this also traces the various shifts in attitude towards the arts and their relative value over the course of almost a century and a quarter.  And as we will also consider the legacy of Hull-House and its use of theatre to help others, examples of which continue to this day, our story remains happily incomplete.”

CambridgeEditors is so pleased to have worked with a prominent dramaturg such as Stuart Hecht on a project that so closely examines the development of art and theatre throughout the nation.

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The Shanti Bhavan School

After a long and successful entrepreneurial career in the US, Dr. Abraham George returned to his native country of India in 1995 with a mission: to find a way to alleviate the burden of poverty on the poorest and most socially disadvantaged children through education. This led him to start the George Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Bangalore, India which encompasses several projects in women’s empowerment and providing medical care, though arguably its most famous is the Shanti Bhavan school.

Shanti Bhavan’s approach is a holistic one which provides not only a globally competitive leadership-focused academic environment, but also shelter, food, clothing, medical care and a supportive community. For many children in India’s poorest areas, who often come from the lowest “untouchable” social caste, this allows them to become the first in their families to receive an education, go to university, or become doctors, engineers, scientists, teachers and authors. When these children succeed, their accomplishments bring their families with them, opening doors for younger siblings, freeing them from generational debt and making them into positive leaders for their communities.

On the Shanti Bhavan website, they have highlighted many of the incredible stories of their students, some of which were featured in a Netflix documentary produced a few years ago, entitled Daughters of Destiny. Ted Talks and Glamour’s the Girl Project are just a few of the many other outlets which have publicized their amazing work as an ever-growing institution. Just last year, CambridgeEditors had the pleasure of working with Dr. George on his upcoming autobiography. If you are interested in learning more about how we can provide similar support to you, or about any of our other editing services, please contact us by email or check out our website at http://www.cambridgeeditors.com.

Hannah Voteur, CambridgeEditors Team

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Editor Spotlight: Nili Belkind’s Recent Award

Congrats to a member of the CambridgeEditors team, Nili Belkind, who has received the International Council for Traditional Music’s Book Prize for 2022.

CambridgeEditors wants to congratulate Nili Belkind for her most recent honor, winning the International Council for Traditional Music’s Book Prize for 2022. The International Council for Traditional Music is a non-governmental organization founded in 1947 that is in formal consultative relations with UNESCO, working to further the study and dissemination of traditional dance and music from all countries. They have recognized Belkind’s book, Music in Conflict: Palestine, Israel and the Politics of Aesthetic Production (Routledge 2020), for its significant contribution to ethnomusicology.

            Belkind has a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from Columbia University, and draws on subject fields including anthropology, urban studies, cultural geography, and migration and diaspora studies. All of these fields and many more informed her huge undertaking with Music in Conflict, a book based on field work in Israel and the West Bank conducted in 2011-2012, as well as supplemental excursions since then.

            The book follows the music in order to follow the conflict—going to concert halls, demonstrations, community centers, and alternative urban scenes. By following the music in these specific instances, Belkind sees how music is used to assert social boundaries within conflict. Belkind recognizes that music is an important social manifestation of the way that power imbalances impact knowledge and artistic production. Using music to examine the dynamics that emerge from political and structural violence in the region, Belkind examines music as politics. She writes a complex narrative demonstrating how making music is both informed by and also forms identities and communities.

            Some areas Belkind studies are the Al Kamandjâti music conservatory as a site of everyday nation-making and resistance, the Jaffa Arab-Jewish Community Center (AJCC) as a site of multiculturalism and coexistence, and checkpoints in Palestine as a way of understanding the politics of music and boundaries. Belkind crafts a compelling and immensely valuable study of music and the social manifestations of conflicts. She teaches her readers how music reflects identities and shapes communities in conflict.

            As an editor, Belkind has worked with a wide range of texts as well as translations from Hebrew to English. Her editing experience reflects the interdisciplinary nature of her work. Her range of expertise and experience enriches her ability to support clients interested in content and developmental editing. CambridgeEditors is proud of the recent international value and recognition placed on Nili’s work.

Tatiana Jackson-Saitz, CambridgeEditors Team

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An Examination of the Female Figure in Silvina Ocampo’s Work

CambridgeEditors’ exciting new line edit done by Dr. Felicia Lee for Dr. Fernanda Zullo’s book that reinvigorates the ideas of Silvina Ocampo, a brilliant Argentine writer.

“Silvina Ocampo’s words are maps that trace the familiar in the familial spaces of motherhood and childhood by marking their designated boundaries and recording their breaches.”

-Dr. Fernanda Zullo, Motherhood and Childhood in Silvina Ocampo’s Works

CambridgeEditors is proud to have worked with Dr. Fernanda Zullo on her book Motherhood and Childhood in Silvina Ocampo’s Works. A line edit by Dr. Felicia Lee of this book took place in the fall and spring of 2021-2022. Silvina Ocampo was an Argentine short story writer and poet who created a unique space for herself in Argentine literature—lauded by figures like Jorge Luis Borges as a genius, and one of her era’s greatest poets in the Spanish language.

Dr. Zullo launches a detailed study of the overlapping spaces of motherhood and childhood in Silvina Ocampo’s writing. Whereas literary criticism of Ocampo largely focuses on her depictions of childhood, Zullo recognizes the existing dialogue between mother and child throughout Ocampo’s stories. Motherhood defines and creates the space of childhood while childhood constantly refers to the mother. Wants and needs of childhood and adulthood conflict as they coexist in the literary time that Ocampo creates, and these conflicts become commentaries on the idealized positions of the mother and child.

Zullo uses the “spaces of motherhood and childhood” to “observe Ocampo’s adroit hand at pushing the norms of what is acceptable and questioning the very concept of normal.” Zullo recognizes the way Ocampo wrestles with Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, capitalism, Catholicism, media, and popular narratives of what is normal for the positions of mother and child. Ocampo uses these discourses to represent complicated characters that comment “as much about the inhabitants of those spaces” of motherhood and childhood “as they do about those responsible for their construction and preservation.” Silvina Ocampo works against idealized versions of mother and child, creating ambiguity for these spaces.

In the first chapter of her first section, Dr. Zullo begins by quoting Shoshana Felman’s What Does A Woman Want? And introduces the question of what a woman can want in a patriarchal society except being some kind of relation: a mother, a daughter, or a wife. Zullo argues that Ocampo’s writing leaves her readers wondering what each particular woman in each text wants. Zullo walks us through Ocampo’s stories that house characters who push the boundaries of their clearly defined maternal roles, demonstrating the way Ocampo continually subverts “normal” expectations of motherhood and childhood. 

Zullo’s exciting examination of a writer who has recently been given an increased importance in the literary canon (more publications, translations, and artistic works have recently been dedicated to Ocampo) gives us the opportunity to understand Ocampo’s work and the way it is relevant to us. Zullo’s insights walk us through the way a brilliant writer like Ocampo was able to play with the boundaries of the set social positions as mother and child. The result is an avenue to discuss what a woman wants—and what she is allowed to voice her desires for.

Tatiana Jackson-Saitz, CambridgeEditors Team

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Machine versus Human Translation

The internet can easily facilitate connection and communication across the globe, so it is increasingly important to be able to share your work across language boundaries. What do you need to know to choose the best translation method for your work?

While the world continues to become more interconnected and global, facilitating communication between speakers of different languages has become more important than ever. Although the internet has increased the availability of information from all over the world, academic papers, news articles, literary pieces, and journal entries all require translation to make them accessible to speakers of other languages. MT, or machine translation, has developed enormously in the last few decades, but it is still questionably reliable compared to the human standard. How can you know which will better serve your project? This decision ultimately comes down to your focus and subject matter since both translation modes have benefits and negatives.

MT is the most efficient choice of the two, providing inexpensive and nearly instantaneous translations. Since the computer is automatic, it also doesn’t need to be supervised throughout the process. The AI software grows more reliable with every use, constantly improving and creating better results. However, this doesn’t mean MT is a perfect tool. By choosing automated efficiency, you are likely missing out on nuance and context, which can be particularly detrimental to important documents or literary pieces. Machines can’t interpret connotations unless explicitly laid out for them, which can sometimes produce nonsensical phrasing. Is the screen a window filter or the lit backing of a computer? Is a fork a utensil on the dinner table or an intersection in the road?

This issue of subtlety is solved with human translation, which is done by real people with multiple language fluencies. These can be individuals working freelance or for institutions. They’ve often gone through university training in both translation and their specific field of focus. Humans can pick up on subtext and implications lost on machines, making their translations significantly more reliable and accessible. People also know how to draw on other sources when they’ve found something they don’t understand, so where a machine would take its best guess on an ambiguous sentence, a person would know to cross-reference with other speakers to ensure their translation is accurate. Another benefit of human translators is their ability to localize writing depending on its intended community, making it more relatable and understandable by using appropriate vocabulary and tone.

However, because they are more thorough and accurate, human translations are much more expensive and time-consuming. People need breaks, and even experienced translators cannot compete with entirely computerized systems in that respect. Overall, the main tradeoff to consider is cost-effectiveness versus accuracy. For social media posts or other short, insubstantial materials, being able to translate large quantities quickly and cheaply is a better option. On the other hand, literary works or longer specialized academic papers would be advantaged by a human eye and understanding of language. If you’re in the process of writing or are looking for support in getting your piece ready for publication or translation, feel free to visit CambridgeEditors website for more information on our wide array of services. 

Hannah Voteur, CambridgeEditors’ Team

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The Peer Review Process

Academic writing goes through many rounds of revision to ensure it is ready for publication, and one of the most important is peer review.

Peer review has always been one of the most important ways for people to improve and refine their ideas, from philosophers in Ancient Greece to modern scholars looking to circulate their work through digital journals. Peer review ensures that all fields have high-quality information that is presented in a clear and useful way for future researchers. For anyone looking to publish their work, it is important to learn how to make use of the peer review process to polish their paper and promote its credibility. 

There are several different versions of peer review. All forms of peer review offer critiques to ensure that the paper asks meaningful questions and seeks to answer them through logically sound procedures, though each has different benefits. Open peer review is one of the more common methods and is typically orchestrated by the author themselves. The paper is sent out to colleagues, volunteers and any other individuals with expertise in the topic to review the content and methods, essentially crowdsourcing revisions. The author’s identity is available to the reviewers and vice versa. Open peer reviews are usually able to draw on the biggest pools of reviewers. 

Single-anonymous peer reviews receive the same type of feedback as open peer reviews, but the reviewers’ identities are withheld from the author. The anonymity of the reviewer encourages honest commentary, but knowledge of the author’s personal information sometimes results in unintentional reviewer bias. Double-anonymous peer reviews withhold both the reviewer’s and author’s identity from one another, which reduces the risk of bias. However, it can be difficult to ensure the process is entirely blind, particularly if the paper has been submitted elsewhere or published previously online. 

If your goal is publication in a journal, your paper will have to go through another version of peer review to determine if the subject matter is consistent with the focus of the journal. This review will involve a panel from the journal determining whether or not your work would be within the scope of subjects they publish. Critiques or rejections you receive here have less to do with the quality of information, and more to do with the suitability of the topic for that specific journal. 

Post publication peer review takes place after the work is submitted and accepted by a journal. Any commentary or critical discussion of the article can be referred to as part of its post publication peer review. These comments may also be included in a submission portfolio to other journals, referred to as a portable peer review. This portable peer review includes edits or revisions suggested by reviewers alongside the paper itself. 

Since technology has made it so much easier for authors to publish their work online, papers are often circulated without formal peer review, which is detrimental to both quality and credibility. Peer review is an essential part of getting your paper ready for publication, making sure it is vetted against the existing knowledge of academic and scientific communities. If you are in the process of editing your paper or preparing it for peer review, check out the CambridgeEditors’ website for more information on our wide array of editing services to see how we can support you. 

Hannah Voteur, CambridgeEditors’ Team

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John McPhee and “Greening” an Edited Draft

What kind of editing happens when a draft already seems finished?

In his book Draft No.4: On the Writing Process, American writer and pioneer of creative nonfiction John McPhee writes about the outlining, drafting, and revision phases included in the writing process. One chapter called “Omission,” also published in the New Yorker in 2015, discusses McPhee’s experience writing and editing his pieces for Time.

After rounds of back and forth with his editors on a piece and reaching a finalized draft, McPhee would come into work in the morning and find a final assignment with a note telling him to “Green 5” or “Green 9.” Essentially these notes would mean McPhee was supposed to condense his work by that particular number of lines so that it could fit into the print magazine format. He was supposed to mark his changes in green pencil so that his editors could add something back if they saw fit, which according to him, they rarely did. Editing values being concise.

This practice of “greening” his text was a task intended to reduce the piece in size, but change nothing about its voice, message, or tone. The piece needed to be left intact—just slightly shorter to fit publishing’s practical needs. Although used specifically for print needs in this anecdote, the importance of greening lines in a text expands to digital formatting as well (consider Tweets or the format of blog posts).

McPhee took this experience and ended up teaching it to his writing students at Princeton, asking them to green their pieces to think about every word placed in their work. This final phase of editing requires methodically rechecking word and line count while making careful changes—putting together a puzzle of a perfected draft.

When editors of the CambridgeEditors team work on copy edits, proofreading, or formatting, they employ these strategies to end up with final pieces worthy of McPhee’s praise. CambridgeEditors has experts in greening and polishing texts of all kinds. If you’re interested in making your pieces as polished and concise as they can be, reach out to CambridgeEditors or check out our website for more information on all the services we provide.

Tatiana Jackson-Saitz, Cambridge Editors Team


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Active or Passive Voice?

By Hannah Voteur, CambridgeEditors’ Team

How do you know what voice would best serve your writing?

One of the most frequently repeated lessons from high school English class is that the passive voice should be avoided at all costs. It takes away from the clarity of the sentence and is questionably grammatical.

However, this isn’t entirely true. The passive voice is one of two grammatical voices in English, the other being active. Voice in grammar indicates the relationship between the subject of the sentence and the action; more specifically, whether the subject is performing the action (active) or being performed on (passive). Either voice can be applied to any tense since they don’t carry specific temporal information.

Although using the passive is often frowned upon by teachers, both of these forms of verbs are grammatically correct. However, as stylistic choices, they lend different tones to your writing. Choosing one over the other can be a way to highlight certain information or draw your reader’s attention to a different focus. Creative writers can particularly play with voice, selecting either based on their desired effect on readers.

Passive voice emphasizes the action over the participants, which is why it can be useful in news or scientific contexts. News articles are more apt to contain “The store was robbed,” to bring readers closer to the point of the story, the robbery itself, and not the presently unknown perpetrators. Scientific papers might use the passive to highlight the different steps of an experiment, leaving out the actors, the scientists themselves, because that information is already clearly established and doesn’t need to clog the
sentence.

Active voice is more decisive and declarative, directly stating the information for readers. Opinion pieces and other more definitive styles of writing would benefit from this voice type. It lends clarity and focus to your sentences, helping with conciseness and precision. Academic writing on history or other informational subjects tends towards using a more active voice for this reason, keeping the writing in line with the factual and informative content.

Either type of voice can enrich your writing, as long as it is properly utilized with your subject matter and audience in mind. If you’re looking for assistance deciding on the best way to make use of voice in your writing, or if you need any other helpful guidance, contact CambridgeEditors or check out our website for information on our full range of editing services.

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