Monica Oliveira, the “Resource Manager” for Translators without Borders – our Volunteer Hero of the month


For this third issue of our newsletter, we have interviewed Monica Oliveira, who is the volunteer “Resource Manager” for Translators without Borders.  One of her goals is to help Translators without Borders bring in more volunteer translators more quickly through a “Fast Track” process in which translators who are either certified ATA translators, PROs or work with an LSP partner such as Lionbridge are automatically approved as TWB translators. Monica shares with us her inspirational thoughts, experiences and dreams as a hardworking mom, social communicator and a true believer in volunteer work.


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

I am Brazilian, originally from Rio. I hold a degree in Social Communication and I feel passionate about information diffusion. I developed my professional career as a journalist for many years in Brazil. Then, I became a political correspondent. I came to the United States for graduate school, and this is where I got married and had my two kids. Over time, I have moved to translation and localization. Currently, I am the Regional Director for the Americas with Lionbridge.

If you ask any of my friends for a word to describe me, that would be “hardworking”; I am always doing things, with my job, my family, my daughters’ school, and, of course, volunteer work. I am so used to work I do not feel it is hard work anymore!

2. What is your role at TWB?

Recruiting. I am the “Resource Manager” if we have to put a title to it. My task is to build the resource base and to expand it. Another goal is to set up a structure and workflow to make the recruiting process easier in the future.

3. What has motivated you to help TWB?

My passion for the diffusion of information. Let me tell you a story: When I was a journalist in Brazil, I embarked on a scientific expedition into the Amazon to write about the environment. When we arrived in a village, the public health doctors talked to the locals and found out that there were many cases of diarrhea and other water-related diseases. The doctors told them to put a spoon of bleach (chlorine) into the water – that is what large water companies in big cities basically do. It solved a lot of problems! So… such a tiny piece of information made a huge impact on their lives. Since then, I have started thinking about how something small – it might be something simple that many of us take for granted – can change the lives of many other people. When we think about Translators without Borders, this idea fits into place.

4. What is a day in your life like?

My day starts very early, at about five in the morning. I begin with the things I like and my volunteer work. I get my kids ready and take them to school. I work in my office – at home – until around three in the afternoon. I manage to pick up my daughter and have a lunch break. Technology really helps working moms like me! I have to take into account that part of my team is in Asia, and the possibility of working from home lets me hold meetings with them at odd hours due to different time zones.

5. How do you squeeze in time for your volunteer tasks?

I try to complete volunteer tasks early in the morning, or after my kids go to bed in the evening. Depending on the task, I might also devote some time during weekends if it takes longer or if I am too tired in the evenings during weekdays, and I need a fresh brain to do it!

6. What do you consider are the challenges ahead for your role and for TWB?

I think a big challenge is to be able to communicate the goodness; that is, what the job can do for other people; to convince volunteers that maybe two hours a month will not affect their routines very much but it will hugely impact other people’s lives. As we are a volunteer-based organization, we have to be able to attract volunteers and to keep them willing to volunteer their skills and time; to make them feel it is worth engaging in Translators without Borders.

7. What would you say to someone who is thinking about joining a cause like TWB?

I would say that you cannot believe how good it feels when you see the results, and in turn, that makes you feel good about yourself.

8. To what extent do your professional and personal goals come together with your volunteer work?

I have a great passion for the diffusion of information. I want to raise two good people – my kids – and I want to help people raise good people. We need to care, and it is like snowballs: you do it with your kids and it spreads.

9. Could you tell us a bit about teamwork and personal relationships with other members of TWB?

At first, I mainly worked with Lori, but then I also started working more with Rebecca, Enrique and Serena. Most of our work is through virtual interaction, so we have never met face-to-face yet (except with Lori at a conference!)

10. What do you feel is your greatest achievement within TWB and beyond TWB so far and what is your biggest dream in life?

I am very committed to the cause, but I cannot say I have seen any great achievements in regards to my task of bringing in new resources since I only joined a year ago, and results are coming slower than I would like… we can definitely say the best is yet to come.

One of my biggest dreams is to raise two good people, who care and who are committed to good things. My other great dream is to have time to be a writer.

Target shooting…

In paper: Any book, especially a book by Gabriel García Márquez

On the web: Facebook! To interact with my relatives back in Brazil

Open-air activity: Hiking

With friends: Eating

Family gathering: Thanksgiving

Blog AuthorBy Lorena Baudo, Translators without Borders volunteer

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