Translators improve lives by translating lifesaving information for people who speak marginalized languages. Those who volunteer as part of the Translators without Borders (TWB) community have a range of experiences and skills. They share our vision of a world where knowledge knows no language barriers. We are grateful for all our translators, and we love sharing their stories.
On World Humanitarian Day 2020, TWB translator Sifat Noor was featured among four Bangla “humanitarian heroes.” He was hailed for his contribution “in translating critical, potentially life-saving information into Bangla, so more people have the information they need to lead safe, healthy, and informed lives.”
In his short time with the TWB community, Sifat has worked for organizations such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the American Red Cross, the World Health Organization, and the United Nations Refugee Agency. His projects focus on education, cancer awareness, and healthcare. More recently he has translated COVID-19 information to inform Bangla speakers about the pandemic. Yet for Sifat, 2020 has been somewhat of a whirlwind. He only began volunteering in March 2020. Almost unbelievably, this was his first foray into the industry.
Sifat loves to share knowledge
“I learned about the greatest linguist in history, Kató Lomb. A polyglot, who graduated in physics and chemistry, learned about 25 languages, and could work with 16 of them! TWB honored this noble woman and I was impressed to see such thoughtfulness. I couldn’t think of a better name, ‘Kató Platform,’ for our workspace.”
Part of the community
Sifat already thrives on being part of the TWB community:
“Although I’ve never seen or met anyone in person, I always have this notion that I have good friends in different countries. TWB has a wonderful team that gives the volunteers a sense of belonging.”Sifat Noor.
Each of our 30,000 linguists belongs to a network which benefits from opportunities to explore the industry, develop new skills, and build confidence in translation.
The 2020 Community Survey asked TWB translators where in the world they are. Explore the survey results here.
New ways of work in 2020
Sifat has worked through the drastic and surprising global impacts of COVID-19. Individuals have lost jobs, classes have stopped, and we are all familiarizing ourselves with the “new normal.” The wake of the outbreak has often meant not being able to participate in activities in person, so Sifat has embraced the opportunity to volunteer remotely to reach people in need. The challenges of 2020 and his excellent grasp of English and Bangla pushed him towards an undiscovered interest in translation. Despite not having explored an interest in translation before, he’s always been an enthusiastic writer and language lover who wanted to do good for others, making this the perfect role for him. In our interview, Sifat expressed his ardent belief in seeking out new experiences: “Through volunteering I am exploring this field, learning new techniques, honing my language skills and helping people… all at the same time!”
“We all can contribute to humanity.”
“I wish [the translation platform] would work better on smartphones!” says Sifat, explaining how seriously he takes his volunteering duties. He carves out time and space in his daily life, before and after work.
2020 presented us the biggest language challenge in history, and Sifat is proud to have played a part. We explored some of his most fascinating projects:
“TWB has given me access to many projects that are vital for humanity. I found translating the International Security and Development Center’s survey questions fascinating, I loved the way they organized the opinion polls and it was apparent that the outcomes would propose some life-changing solutions. I also want to mention RCoA, World BEYOND War, and of course, the works of the COVID Infographics Team.” Infographics like these have been key this year, to share vital information in a digestible and understandable format. Ultimately, these projects help more people keep safe, healthy and informed in the pandemic.
Some parting words from Sifat – lessons learned from others in our community:
“It may look like some simple translation, but we all are working for people. Although our works are seldom visible, you never know whose lives you’re improving, or even saving.”Sifat Noor
For that reason, we thank you all for your commitment as always, through 2021 and beyond.
Written by Danielle Moore, Communications Officer for TWB. With interview responses by Sifat Noor, Volunteer Translator for TWB.