One of our Heroic Volunteers: Dominic Spurling

Our Volunteer Heroes are the engine that makes Translators without Borders run. We are a completely volunteer-run organization with a vast number of amazing people working together to make a difference. For this first issue of our newsletter, we have interviewed one of our Volunteer Heroes: Dominic Spurling, the Webmaster at TWB, a self-taught high-tech computer guy, who is in charge of the “mechanics and plumbing” of our site.

Q: If you were to write a brief wiki article about yourself, what facts and personal characteristics would you include?

A:  I grew up in a small town outside London, in Berkhamsted, on quiet streets. I used to play tennis, ride my bike, play in the garden, and dig ponds. I guess that’s when I became interested in nature. During school years, I was into science, biology and chemistry and then, when technology and computers became available, I started paying more attention to technology, computers, and programming. My parents said I had to study something “serious” at college, so I decided to go for chemistry. Currently, and for a few years now, my work is mainly about making organizations more efficient and better communicated. I love collaborating with smart people on my team, and coming up with a lot of innovative ideas.

Q: What is your role at Translators without Borders?

A:  I’m the Webmaster for the Translators without Borders’ website. I take care of the “mechanics and the plumbing”, the part you don’t get to see.

Q: What has motivated you to help Translators without Borders?

A:  My mother (a TWB board member from told me Translators without Borders was in need of a Webmaster, and I found out that I could use my skills to help.

Q: What is a day in your life like?

A:  My day starts at 7.30 a.m., I have breakfast, and I cycle to work (I exercise at the same time, which is great), get to the office, solve the issues first, and then do the fun part – discussing with colleagues new features for the website.  I finish work around 6 in the evening, wait for my wife to come home (who takes care of animals at a wildlife organization) and watch some TV. In our spare time, we go to the park near our home, and we also enjoy snowboarding and sailing.

Q: How do you squeeze in time for your volunteer tasks?

A:  I always have my “tools” at hand, so maybe I squeeze in half an hour or a whole hour every weekday – possibly in my lunchtime.  If the tasks take longer, I do them during weekends.

Q: What do you consider are the challenges ahead for your role and for Translators without Borders?

A:  We have so many ideas and suggestions coming in to include in the website; it’s complex to coordinate them, assign priorities, use new technologies, but the learning process to actually get the system behind those ideas – to make them a reality – is great fun.

Q: What would you say to someone who is thinking about joining a cause like Translators without Borders?

A:  That it’s great – you can do it from your home and contribute to the world. The world is very connected but needs to be more connected, and that’s why it’s important to join a global cause like Translators without Borders.

Q: To what extent do your professional and personal goals come together with your volunteer work?

A:  The skills I use for TWB and my work are the same, so that’s a great achievement.

Q: Could you tell us a bit about teamwork and personal relationships with other members of Translators without Borders?

A:  We coordinate everything through e-mails and Skype. Rebecca has been very good at coordinating people and ideas, and Silvina is the designer. Rebecca and Silvina usually discuss a new section or a new feature of the website, along with other members of Translators without Borders, and then I take a look at those ideas, give my opinion and we move on to work.

Q: What do you feel is your greatest achievement within TWB and beyond TWB so far?

A:  Well, the website itself.

Willingness to Work Again is a Translators without Borders partner organization that provides a powerful technological platform for outsourcing translations for the NGOs that Translators without Borders help in their humanitarian work.

The professionals created a system that helps the users to request, collect and display feedback from clients and colleagues in their profiles in the form of their “willingness to work again” (“WWA”) with the translators. This is a way to appeal to potential clients and to set a translator apart in the directory.

Many translators who volunteer their time and expertise to help Translators without Borders deliver on translation projects for humanitarian not-for-profit organizations have received the WWA feedback. It means that Translators without Borders provides high quality professional service to partner NGOs.

The volunteer translators who received Willingness to Work Again (WWA) feedback as a result of working on Translators without Borders projects include Katie Voutt, Blandine Drooghmans, Susan Pasco, Norah Mulvihill, Manuela Mariño Beltrán, Géraldine Bestel, Monique Sarah, Carol Chaykin and many others.

Find out more about how the Willingness to Work Again feature works.

Blog AuthorBy Marina Sayfulina, former Translators without Borders Social Media volunteer