Translators improve lives by translating potentially lifesaving information into languages spoken by vulnerable individuals. 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.
Irina’s philosophy fits right in with that of Translators without Borders: “In our information-packed society, it is essential to maintain access to vital information for everybody. So, my biggest motivation is helping people by delivering information to interested parties,” says Irina, former lawyer now turned English-Russian translator. Since joining as a volunteer translator in 2016, Irina has translated and revised a total of 110,220 words into Russian, one of our top ten most frequently requested languages.
The projects touch on all sorts of information, including healthcare. Often, information and research in one language benefit speakers of another language – but it needs to be accurate and it needs to be available. So we asked about a particular project which made vital information available in Irina’s own country, in Russian, her mother-tongue. When tasked with translating an important anti-tuberculosis study she found it to be one of her most difficult projects to date. The translator translated study protocol and presentations to find out more, before later reading news articles and discovering the reality of the tuberculosis situation in Russia.
“I was shocked to find how high the burden of tuberculosis is in my country!” – Irina
Finding practical solutions
Although Irina focuses on the importance of language in Russia, she is also hopeful about how sharing information in many languages can spread helpful and life-changing information. “I hope that the study of novel tuberculosis treatment will speed up the registration of new drugs which are vital for successful treatment,” she told TWB.
As well as more academic pieces, Irina finds translating personal stories equally important. One of her projects involved translating patients’ stories for partner non-profit EURORDIS – Rare Diseases Europe.
“I realized that stories shared by patients with rare diseases and their families could inform people in similar situations in Russia about how to deal with those diseases.” – Irina
Tapping into your skillset
Irina’s desire to help as a volunteer translator has helped her tap into personal and professional skills. “Volunteering improved my time management: I have to calculate and allocate the time I can spend to complete the tasks before the deadline, alongside my other daily tasks. Before launching my own business, I worked as a lawyer and I volunteered with TWB at night, after work. Now, I can be more flexible and am able to contribute more time.”
Her advice for other TWB Community members is to constantly improve your skills, learn new terminology, and check your quality of translation. “Doing translation in Kató – TWB’s online translation environment – requires the same quality approach as any other project: the highest possible. So, before claiming the new task make sure you understand the topic and do your own research to provide the best possible translation.” It helps you understand the context and importance of the situation you are translating about – like in the case of Irina’s tuberculosis project. When Irina dug deeper into the topic she was translating about, she discovered a personal interest in medical translation and later, clinical research. Her projects opened new doors: “Volunteering with TWB improved my resourcefulness and research skills and pushed me to explore new horizons in translation, take new courses, and dig deeper.”
Written by Gloria Malone and Danielle Moore, Communications Officers for Translators without Borders. Interview responses by Irina Nosova.