Slobodna domena Zadruga za otvoreni kod i dizajn

How Slobodna domena became multilingual

And we weren't planning that

Since we're seasoned in doing educations some of our members are volunteering with Borders:none, a project that gives digital skills training to asylum seekers. We do that from time to time. Whenever there is a candidate that shows potential or energy to learn more during classes we are open to offer them more support. This is when we invite them to start coming to our office if and when they can. There they will get a chair and a computer, share our office. This is a start of an informal mentorship. We try to stay open in that process, follow their pace and situation. There are no expectations or procedures, exams, milestones or tasks. We just talk and see where it goes. Have done that several times.

Nibal, from Syria, came to our office in 2020. A friend connected us. Her will to learn how to code and produce websites was great. She was proactive and determined. We were helping her with advice and skills, but must say that it felt like she'd go through all that by herself is she had to. Sometimes she did, especially when we did not have time to spare due to our work schedules. Step by step, Nibal's skills got better and better. Unlike other people we mentored, she kept coming and asking for more. That is how we started giving her tasks from our tables. From trainee she became an associate over night. One thing leading to another, very soon she became a part of our collective, now working full time.

This unplanned development has lead to an interesting change in our organisation.

Although Nibal is learning Croatian she is far more fluent in English. That is how we became multilingual. For practical reasons we have switched to English as our working language. All our internal documents and communications now have to be either in English or bilingual. Same goes for code, database structure and comments. Although we were already working with some international clients and in English, this change had shifted our perspective. We realised that without any intentions Slobodna domena now became naturally orientated towards english speaking clients. For sure we will not neglect our local market but will keep our eyes open how to develop some new relations on the international scene.

Knowledge of language and culture is important while working internationally. Having watched same cartoons as kids tends to ease communications between people. There are less unknowns. Also if you have read the literature, listened to music and understand the culture of communities you work with one knows what to expect. It's easier to meet the requirements. So now we can say that Slobodna domena is multilingual. We can work in five languages: Croatian, English, Arabic, Spanish, Slovenian i lingua Latina