Rocio Haskell – Translators without Borders Volunteer Hero


For our last issue of this year, we interviewed Rocio Haskell, a Paris lover and a yoga teacher, who has a varied professional background, and is in charge of coordinating non-translator volunteers for Translators without Borders (TWB). Rocio has helped to bring some structure and centralize information about volunteers, so as to meet Translators without Borders’ current needs with the right volunteers for the tasks ahead.

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

A: I am dedicated to many diverse activities; I have never planned anything, but things just sorted themselves out! I studied Management at Northwestern University, and later my experience in different jobs has taken me to many places all in the world, including almost every country in Latin America. I have been living in Geneva for a year now since my husband took a position here.

Q: What is your role at Translators without Borders?

A: My main role involves coordinating non-translator volunteers. I met Rebecca and Lori in Paris, and told them I had signed up for volunteering 6 months earlier, and no one had contacted me! So I told them, “You need somebody to coordinate the rest of the tasks, such as social media, the website…” There was nobody looking for help with non-translation tasks like accounting. Now, we have added some pages to the website, and we recruit people who are not translators as well since we also need other types of volunteers. Basically, I deal with issues that do not have direct relation with translation itself, but with screening translators, reframing the processes, putting in place the structure, the network, and the organizational framework. I also address questions such as, “What are our needs? Do we have the right people with the right skills to fulfill those needs?”

Q: What has motivated you to help TWB?

A: Translators without Borders crosses over many non-profits since it supports other organizations and it helps them to communicate better. I have engaged with TwB’s message and goals, and I think I have found my own niche within the organization: I identified the need of recruiting non-translators and I volunteered to be in charge of this task.

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

A: Every day I devote a couple of hours to working with volunteers; I feel productive and useful spending my time with TwB’s tasks. I really enjoy talking and working with Lori and Rebecca; they are so different from each other, but their individual voices project so much enthusiasm – they are inspiring!

Q: What do you consider are the challenges ahead for your role and for TWB?

A: As Translators without Borders is an entirely volunteer-based organization, the main challenge is expanding the network to find translators and other necessary roles; that is, finding the right people with the adequate set of skills (in relation to fund raising, for instance) and having the channels to find dedicated people for sustained periods of time. We need to keep volunteers engaged with our cause.

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

A: Well, to someone who is not a translator, but would like to join Translators without Borders, I would say that we definitely need supporting roles and supporting players in order for translation to occur. Join in, try it and see if it is for you! All roles are important, and sustained volunteering is paramount; every ten volunteers, one sticks – that makes it worthwhile.

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

A: Very early on in my career I noticed that I can help people out with the business side of things. For example, when I served as a Localization Manager with Wells Fargo, I collaborated with La Cocina, a small business initiative, where women knew a lot about the core of the business – cooking – but needed help with bookkeeping. So I select causes that are part of my world, i.e., which involve multicultural communication.

Q: What do you feel is your greatest achievement within Translators without Borders and beyond, and what is your biggest dream in life?

A: I think that some great achievements in my area include building a database for volunteers who are non translators, allowing the board to support their higher up activities, setting up a process, identifying needs – since when you need volunteers, you also need marketing and a means to communicate with them, through social media, for instance. Now, everything is in one place, and all applicants go there. We have centralized the information, which makes it easier and more efficient for everybody – and most importantly, we all share the same information now!

Target shooting…

In paper: Classic French novelists

On the web: New York Times and all sites about Paris!

Open-air activity: Bike-riding

With friends: A cup of coffee and some pastry

Family gathering: Thanksgiving

Blog AuthorBy Lorena Baudo, Translators without Borders volunteer 

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