Raising awareness while getting fit
“Let’s grab our helmets, flasks and cameras, get on our bikes and support TWB! A great way to show others that translation really matters. In many parts of the world it saves people’s lives”
In 2012, Marek Gawrysiak, co-founder and managing partner of translation agency TextPartner in Katowice, Poland, met representatives of Translators without Borders (TWB). Fired with enthusiasm about the organization’s mission to see a world that knows no language barriers, Marek wanted to help sponsor the Fund-a-Translator program in Kenya. He, his wife Ewa and a colleague, Lucjan, share a passion for mountain biking, so they decided to organize a long-distance, sponsored cycle under the banner of OnOurBikes.info, to fundraise for TWB. “We were thinking we should do something a little bit crazy which could attract more interest to the cause,” explains Marek. So far, TextPartner’s OnOurBikes sponsored cycle rides have raised over $20,000 for TWB, funding the training of 20 translators in Kenya.
Raising awareness of TWB
To raise awareness of TWB among the wider translating community, the TextPartner team approached John Terninko, Executive Director of the European Language Industry Association (ELIA), which runs a major annual international networking conference. In 2012 the venue was to be Budapest. Marek suggested organizing a 440 km, circular cycle tour, starting in Katowice, which would reach Budapest in time for the conference, and they would flag up the fundraising initiative to participants at the ELIA conference.
John supported the proposal and the first to join the team was Michal Kmet from Lexika in Slovakia who was joined by Raymund Prins from Global Textware in the Netherlands, a former professional cyclist, who helped organize the tour. Both became sponsors and the tour went ahead with 21 further sponsors signing up during the ELIA stopover.
“ELIA’s leaders have always supported TWB and our fundraising initiatives”,
says Marek. The ELIA community includes friends, sponsors and cycling
enthusiasts. “ELIA Networking Days help us gain international recognition as a business as well as raising awareness for our support to TWB. A big thanks to them for their continued support!” adds Marek.
“Our fantastic TextPartner team of in-house linguists are also enthusiastic supporters.We would not have been able to leave the office for so long had they not been so supportive and well-organized. While the major part of our business involves linguistic services aimed at central European languages, with the strongest focus on our mother tongue, Polish, we also have a DTP department and a print shop where we produce books, brochures and magazines, business cards and laser-marked pencils. We make some of those for Translators without Borders, providing further in-kind sponsorship.”
OnOurBikes makes its mark!
Following the success of 2012, the OnOurBikes tour became an annual event. 2013 was even more ambitious, with a 600 km circuit taking in Ukraine, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia. This was followed in 2014 by the Baltic Route, cycling from Poland through Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia; with participants taking ferries to extend the trip through Finland and Sweden before returning to Poland – a total distance of 2,300 km! In 2015, the Capitals’ Route included Dublin, London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Berlin. Some participants cycle the whole route, others just join part of it, so the event is exceptionally sociable and fun. During all the tours, bridges and borders are crossed and friendships formed.
In terms of training, Marek explains “our bike rides usually start in spring, so our training takes place in the winter. Surprisingly, the training is fun! We
typically skip lunch to cycle in the woods, in below zero temperatures. We use
spiky tyres for the necessary grip, especially on snow and ice. The woods
are full of wildlife and very quiet at that time. We’d miss the training if we
didn’t have it.”
“Our next ‘grand tour’ will be in 2017, setting off from Lake Garda in
Italy, then, via Venice, over to Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary – with a stopover
for MemoQ fest -on to Slovakia and back to Poland. But there are events in 2016 too.We are very excited that groups such as Zelenka and Ciklopea are keen to join our new Around the World initiative! The idea is to connect multiple smaller cycling events all around the world in the single aim of supporting TWB’s work. We already have three prospective teams, and more indicating they would like to participate. If anyone else feels ready to join us, please get in touch now!”
Translation saves lives
The TextPartner team promote an important message when cycling and raising awareness – emphasizing that translation really matters. It saves people’s lives in many parts of the world. It lifts them out of poverty and empowers them with knowledge. This message is on their banners, leaflets and in their interviews with the media. Marek remarks “Our cycle tours are a call to action to other cyclists worldwide. Let’s grab our helmets, flasks and cameras, get on our bikes and support TWB! It is a great way to show others that translation really matters and that in many parts of the world it saves people’s lives!”
By Sarah Powell, Translators without Borders volunteer