In September 2015, millions of people around the world were appalled at the image of a police officer carrying the body of two-year-old Alan Kurdi across a Turkish beach. The boy, originally from Syria, had drowned when a boat his family was travelling in from Turkey to Greece overturned, only minutes into their journey. A distraught father’s attempt to move his family from an untenable situation highlighted the urgent reality of the refugee crisis.
For many people, that photograph and the story behind it represented a turning point in their attitude to the emerging refugee crisis.
language opens doors
It was certainly a turning point for Roya Khoshnevis, who related strongly to the image. At the time, her son was a similar age to Alan and she was deeply distressed by the image and the tragic situation that it represented.
“The death of that baby boy was a big shock for me and I couldn’t stop crying when I heard the news. So I tried to find a way to help these people and their children. I wanted to help the refugees, and I found no better way than Translators without Borders, which let me support through their (Rapid Response Translation) team.”
As part of our RRT team of volunteers, Roya spends up to two hours a day translating material from English to her native Farsi. The translations are then made available to refugees after they arrive in Europe. Roya believes that language opens doors for refugees.
“Many of these refugees are ordinary people who are not able to speak any other language except their mother tongue,” she says. As translators we must help them to see the world through their language,”
“As translators we must help them to see the world through their language. Language can open doors to exhausted and hopeless people”
Asked about her most satisfying translation experiences, Roya notes that any translation that does not carry bad news is satisfying. She loves helping people receive the news that their families were rescued at sea, or reunited with loved ones.
Roya has lived her whole life in Mashhad, Iran. She studied English translation and works as an English teacher and freelance translator. She works a lot with children and young adults, and has a particular interest in translating children’s stories.
volunteering from a distance
As well as working as a teacher, translator and RRT volunteer, Roya is kept extra busy as the mother of a three-year-old boy. Because the RRT work is done via an online platform, volunteers contribute remotely, and at a time that best suits them. With a life as full as Roya’s, this gives important flexibility. Somehow, Roya still finds time to travel, watch movies and read books that help her to learn about different cultures and countries. Fascinated by languages, Roya studies a new one whenever she has a chance.
Do you want to help open doors? Apply to join the TWB Rapid Response Team on the TWB website.
By Kate Murphy, Translators without Borders volunteer
I grew up in a village in rural Kenya. In this village, many people had little or no education. Those who were lucky enough to see the doors of a classroom only reached primary level. The village was essentially an illiterate one. When I learned how to read and write, many villagers asked me to read healthcare fliers to them; prenatal and postnatal clinic booklets that were issued at health centers and in the village. In those days there were frequent disease outbreaks, such as cholera, measles, diarrhoea and malaria. It is by a miracle of sorts that I survived in such an environment, because my mother was also illiterate and public health workers were scarce, and often overwhelmed. The only information on critical health issues came from the government and NGOs who were at that time trying to respond to various health crises. However, this is not the story I want to talk about: the story I want to tell is one about a poor illiterate mother whose second child died from cholera. A story of why the gift of information is vital.
The story of a mother
This story takes place in a time when the efforts to contain the cholera outbreak had been seen to bear fruit. Leaflets were distributed in the village on general hygiene practices. Breastfeeding mothers were told to wash their hands before feeding their babies and to prepare meals in a clean environment. The leaflets also had information about seeking immediate treatment when a child showed symptoms of diarrhoea. Mama Tinda had all those leaflets containing this information. The leaflets were carefully kept in her clinic bag but because she could only read her native language, the leaflets, in English, made no sense to her, and she always relied on health workers to read and explain the information to her. So when her second-born child got diarrhoea, she could not follow the advice on leaflets. Mama Tinda’s only fault was her inability to read and understand English. That child died. During a casual chat with her a few months ago, she told me that she regrets not having an education. As fate would have it Mama Tinda did not have any more children, and because her first child died of malaria she now remains childless.
Join the movement
The story of Mama Tinda and many mothers like her motivates me to support the mission of Translators without Borders; that is to provide people access to life-saving information in their own language so that knowledge can positively impact their lives. This is the story of language that makes me appeal to you to support the saving of lives through language. Support Translators without Borders and give the gift of information.
By Paul Warambo, Translators without Borders Kenya Manager
This is the story of a woman who wanted to lend a hand for a greater good. Salam Khalifehcompleted an English literature degree and a post-graduate diploma in translation and interpreting at Damascus University while civil war ravaged her home country of Syria, Salam. Despite the situation, she excelled in both courses.
“Attending classes every day was very dangerous”, she explained. “Studying at home was also a struggle because of the lack of electricity and internet access. Considering the situation, I know that I have achieved the greatest results possible. I couldn’t be more proud of myself.”
Joining the TWB European Refugee Crisis project
The ongoing war has made it very difficult for Salam to find work. Luckily, a Facebook post introduced her to Translators without Borders (TWB). She immediately applied to join TWB’s European Refugee Crisis project as a volunteer translator. Her impressive qualifications ensured she was accepted, and she now also volunteers as a translator and interpreter with the United Nations.
Salam is also involved with a project to strengthen Syria’s future. The project aims to help young Syrians strengthen their emotional, social and intellectual life skills so they can continue with their basic education. The Syrian crisis is in its fifth year, so building a foundation for the country’s future is important. It gives much-needed hope and resilience. As she points out, “No one should be deprived of a good education, whatever the circumstances.”
lend a hand and make a difference
Salam explains that volunteering gives her the sense of purpose she was searching for after graduating and has made translation seem much more than a profession:
“Translation has become a tool to make a difference”
“I felt like it was the most noble thing to do: to lend a hand for the greater good, to help for no reward, and all with no grand show of gratitude.”
“TWB unites people from diverse backgrounds to work toward a common goal.” As a Syrian who has lived through the crisis in her country, perhaps Salam understands this goal better than most people.
“We used to feel safe and happy, but not anymore. Syrians are risking their lives to feel safe again. For some people, this means losing their lives at sea. For the fortunate ones who get somewhere safe, it’s still hard to build a life from nothing. But Europeans have been very kind opening their doors for us, and we cannot thank them enough.”
Language barriers can prevent humanitarian assistance being provided effectively. Salam believes that translation is the most important tool for managing the current refugee crisis.
“TWB has been at the frontline, translating information for those involved in the humanitarian crisis. I wanted to be part of that.”
The importance of volunteers
TWB could not stay at that frontline without the generosity of volunteers like Salam. The passion and selflessness of those volunteers allows TWB to continue to improve refugees’ lives. And as Salam explains, the volunteers gain a lot from the work too: “I couldn’t help the hungry or the injured. But going to sleep everyday knowing that I’m helping people get the better life they deserve is enough for me”
Do you want to lend a hand to refugees in crisis areas? Join TWB as a volunteer on the TWB website.
By Kate Murphy, Translators without Borders volunteer
Asian Absolute, the language services company, has been a valuable in-kind sponsor toTranslators without Borders (TWB) since 2011, offering technical support and expertise for the organization website. We spoke to Henry Clough, Managing Director of Asian Absolute who told us about his experience collaborating with TWB.
“In 2011 I became aware of TWB through its presence at the Association of Translation Companies’ conference. We had been discussing within Asian Absolute how we could give back to society in a meaningful way, and I was immediately drawn to TWB – both its impressive achievements with the obvious commitment of the people involved, and also its relevance to what we do at Asian Absolute.”
“After a couple of email exchanges with Lori Thicke (the founder of TWB) it became apparent that there was a need within TWB which lay within Asian Absolute’s core expertise and I offered to put our web engineering team at the disposal of TWB.”
“We provide maintenance and updates for the website. Primarily this involves adding press releases and other external communications to the site, as well as updating the details of NGOs, sponsors and volunteers, and there’s some creative work from time to time developing new pages and functionality. The TWB team is very easy to work with and Asian Absolute is given the opportunity to contribute ideas towards the development of the digital presence, most recently during the planning for the new website.”
Henry also talked a little about TWB’s new website. “The old site was built in Drupal and we’ve now migrated to WordPress. Our engineers are comfortable with both systems so for us the switch is just an exercise in developing new processes to reflect the new structure of the site.”
Finally, he describes his experience with TWB as, “Very positive”
The individuals at Asian Absolute who perform the tasks for
Translators without Borders enjoy having the opportunity to apply their skills to an endeavor which is making such a positive impact on the world, and our wider team is inspired by TWB’s mission.
“The people at TWB are great to work with, we are impressed by the professionalism and efficiency which we encounter, and reassuring us that the time we put in is well spent.”
The professional support TWB receives from Asian Absolute enables the organization to run one of its core outreach activities, the website.
“When I try to explain to people what’s going on in Nord-Kivu or Haiti, they often ask me how do I know about it. Thanks to TWB, I have become more interested in situations that are not widely reported in the news.”
“It means a lot! It means hundreds of hours of hard work, research and sometimes struggle to get to the right words.” Eric explained, when asked about his incredible achievement. “Now, my next target is to go beyond the 1 million words limit. I hope that I will get more people engaged with TWB, because currently some people seem surprised when I explain to them that I have translated 500,000 words for a NGO.”
In 2011, Eric completed an MA in Translation Sciences from the University of Heidelberg after graduating with a BA in Applied Foreign Languages in France. He now works as a freelance translator from English and German into French with his partner, Annika Rathjens, in their common translation bureau Я & R Language Services near Hamburg in Germany. His passions are newspaper cartoons and non-mainstream progressive and ecology-oriented newspapers. Eric would like to open an alternative newspaper kiosk and organize a free library service as well as debates and cultural events to share this passion with others.
“I found out about TWB in an ad on ProZ.com some years ago. At that time, I didn’t have much money but I wanted to get engaged and make a difference. I was fascinated by the idea and variety of topics covered by TWB so I decided to offer my expertise to organizations, big and small, that are striving to make this world a better place to live in.”
A win-win situation
Eric feels proud to play a small part in fighting against diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and leprosy, something his grandmother, a member of the French Association against Leprosy Foundation, Raoul Follereau, was also very passionate about. Translating for TWB has also been a learning experience for Eric: “I have become more sensitized to problems happening in regions that don’t get much media attention, or that affect people whose voice you do not hear in mainstream news channels. When I try to explain to people what’s going on in Nord-Kivu or Haiti, they often ask me how do I know about it. Thanks to TWB, I am interested in situations that are not widely reported in the news.”
“Some people seem disinterested when I tell them about what I do, but I am confident in what I am doing,” said Eric, with a final quote: “Gandhi once said: At the beginning, they ignore you, then they laugh at you and finally, they imitate you.” And that’s how he became the first volunteer to translate 500k words.
Do you want to join Eric as a volunteer translator? Sign up at the TWB website.
By Francesca Debernardis, former Translators without Borders Communications Intern
More than 1 million migrants came to Europe in 2015, mostly from Syria but also Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Eritrea, amongst other countries. The majority arrived by sea with many experiencing traumatic journeys. Reception centers struggled to cope with the linguistic barriers, complicating efforts to help those seeking a safe haven. To help address this problem, Translators without Borders (TWB) is playing a significant role in the provision of translators and interpreters one of whom is Farideh Colthart, a native Farsi speaker with a professional background as an osteopath. Farideh’s medical expertise and legal knowledge mean that she has an invaluable skillset and can act as a link between asylum seekers and aid workers.
Helping refugees understand
Farideh is a regular visitor to Greece’s refugee camps in and around Athens. She explains, “Asylum seekers can be disorientated by an alien environment. They don’t understand the local language and are confused about how things work. Many cannot read or write, which makes things even more difficult. This can also be said for communication with people who speak dialects that Farsi- and Dari- speakers cannot understand. In these cases we have to seek help from others to interpret for us.”
“My work is with asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Iran,” she says, “aiding them to understand the asylum-seeking process. This work is immensely satisfying – particularly when I can see how I am helping make a difference. One initiative in which I was involved has proven particularly successful. This involved the design of a leaflet with a map of Athens on one side and key links on the other such as food or clothing points, showers, and medical services. The map had used words but also symbols for those who cannot read. On a subsequent visit to Athens I was able to see how helpful this was to new arrivals. It was so rewarding!“
A voice for both sides
Born in Tehran and educated in the UK, Farideh empathizes with those parachuted into a very different cultural environment. Since qualifying as an interpreter she has devoted more and more time to helping asylum seekers. She has worked for TWB since 2015 when she was introduced to the organization through a colleague. Meanwhile, regular work for the UK Home Office, local councils and other agencies means that she travels around the country to support Afghans and Iranians who already have refugee status.
“This work is immensely satisfying – particularly when I can see how I am helping to make a difference.”
Through her work, Farideh has noticed many Afghan women struggling with bringing up their children in a westernized society when their lives at home still reflect a patriarchal culture. She said it can lead to family conflicts, feelings of loss of control and social alienation. Farideh explains that she seeks to help them with their day-to-day needs, whether related to housing, children’s education or health. “I also help to run a support group for women for the Refugee Council. This encourages integration through social activities. Through my work with councils and especially with TWB, every day I see the crucially important role of communication in improving people’s lives and life chances. Language matters and I can be a voice for both sides: those who need help and those who seek to help them.”
By Sarah Powell, Translators without Borders volunteer
Volunteer translators are at the heart of Translators without Borders’ response to the European refugee crisis. They work tirelessly to translate a range of important content such as directions on how to reach specific locations or camps, instructions on what to do inside an asylum center, media roundups, weather forecasts, and other articles that may help refugees on their journey.
Translation breaks barriers
Seham Abdou Ebied, an Egyptian, remembers the influx of refugees in her town as soon as the Syrian conflict broke out. They told her stories of war and destruction, about their children and relatives being killed in front of their eyes. The refugees she met fled their homes and walked all the way to Turkey before coming to Egypt. “The images I’ve seen in the media of drowned children and adults – I kept thinking to myself that they are escaping from death to another.”
“Refugees, children and adults, need to understand and receive accurate information in such a crisis – and this can only be achieved through communication in their native language. That’s why I believe translation is as important as food and shelter because it removes the barriers, and helps people cope when they are suffering and far away from home”, explains TWB’s volunteer translator Seham Abdou Ebied.
refugees can’t wait
As part of a larger team, Seham communicates with other members though Skype, where they share files for translation.
“This was all set up by TWB managers, who provide us with very professional support and do their best to answer all our queries. In the world of translation, you have to be quick. Translation for NGOs and refugees needs to be prompt, as there are new documents every hour. Sometimes I have translation work, but then I receive a translation request for TWB, I think and say:”
“My work can wait, but refugees can’t. What a wonderful feeling it is to do something for humanity, and to relieve someone in distress”
Seham learned about Translators without Borders through her colleagues.
“Once I found out about TWB’s mission, I filled out the application form and waited for response. After a month, I was delighted to receive an offer to become a member Rapid Response Team for Arabic.”
Do you want to break barriers with translation? Sign up as a volunteer translator on the TWB website.
By Marketa Sostakova, Translators without Borders volunteer
world humanitarian summit, Istanbul, Turkey 23 – 24 May 2016
Last week I had the good fortune of attending the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, the first convening of its kind. Beyond the lovely – and slightly extravagant – opening ceremony, there was real work to be done at the summit. With the mantra, “Leave No One Behind” and the hashtag, #ShareHumanity, the ‘powers that be’ attempted to shift the conversation – and the mindset – within the humanitarian aid community to community engagement and local empowerment. A few significant commitments were made, especially the Grand Bargain target of 25 percent of international funds going to local NGOs by 2020, and initiatives launched, such as the Network for Empowered Aid Response.
Yet session after session, I waited to hear the specific commitments from UN agencies and major NGOs. They were not forthcoming. There were declarations that individual voices matter, that partnerships with local actors are important, and that we just must do something about the migration crisis. These were sound bites, written and spoken without passion. But actual financial or program commitments on a broad scale were sadly lacking.
But does it even matter?
I left feeling relieved that I didn’t fall asleep in the special sessions, but energized by the activities and voices that I heard in other settings throughout the venue. The shift in funding to local and national NGOs and enterprises, coupled with exciting innovations and the involvement of for-profit socially minded companies, will necessarily change the focus to local solutions, with or without the international humanitarian leaders. Whether they survive the shift will be up to them. I was particularly excited by three trends that permeated the summit:
Small enterprises with big ideas.
Throughout the summit’s Innovation Marketplace and wandering the halls, were many entrepreneurs who are figuring out ways to either assist international agencies with the shift to local or simply bypass them; it is a shame that the diplomats and agency directors who walked through the Marketplace to get to the Facebook Live booth did not glance at the cool innovations as they passed. HumanSurge, for example, allows professionals in surge capacity to manage their own careers and their own deployments, opening many more opportunities for employment. The creators of MedBox focus on truly open health content that can be shared by anyone, anywhere, not unlike our local language Words of Relief Repository. Our fellow CDAC-Network member, Ground Truth Solutions, told the special session on People at the Centre that communicating with communities is not just about listening, but acting on what we hear – and listening again.
While the leaders may be slow to commit to change, at the field level the shift is clear. In our advocacy for more local language content, we often hit roadblocks at country or international levels. There is a presumption that translation is not that important, or that bi-lingual staff can do it just fine. But field staff really understand the need and are committed to local language as a tool to communicate better with and listen to communities. Those who came by our booth at the summit were thrilled that this issue is getting more attention. Importantly, more and more, field staff in places like Kenya, Guinea and Greece are forcing changes higher up the chain. There are also promising pockets of change within headquarters staff, such as the exciting work being done by UNHCR Innovation’s Emergency Lab, and the ICRC’s team committed to communicating with communities. While commitments on an international level were sparse, individuals throughout the summit were committing to the paradigm shift, and that mindset will seep through the sector over time.
Sustainable funding models.
Probably the most exciting conversations I had at the World Humanitarian Summit were those with like-minded organizations focused on non-traditional funding models. It is critical that we look beyond grant cycles to fund important initiatives and innovations that improve overall response. Many members of the humanitarian-to-humanitarian (H2H) initiative launched by ACAPS, of which we are a member, are considering service funding models as a way to build infrastructure and hire staff that fit the needs of the organization, not just the latest grant proposal. It was encouraging to get many nods of support for our new service funding approach from a wide range of large non-profits and agencies. While institutional funding will continue to be important for organizations like ours, sustainable long-term funding modeled after tech start-ups (and encouraged by such innovative funders as the Humanitarian Innovation Fund), will increase innovations designed specifically to meet humanitarian needs, encourage competition to sort out the best ideas, and allow professionalization of small enterprises and non-profit organizations on the local, national and international level.
A momentum for change
Over three years of consultations leading up to the summit, there were many questions as to whether any of it would matter, whether the UN and the sector could actually change to improve humanitarian response. But as those questions were being asked, change was happening all around us. There is momentum for change on local and even international levels. How it will shake out, and who will be the major players in ten years, is unknown, but I’m optimistic that response will be improved, with or without today’s leaders.
Read more about the World Humanitarian Summit here.
By Rebecca Petras, Translators without Borders Deputy Director and Head of Innovation
Leave no one behind and localization are big picture ideas that are being widely-discussed at the World Humanitarian Summit next week in Istanbul.
But, what does it really mean to leave no one – not one single person – behind?
As the head of an organization that began and remains firmly based in the localization industry, I’d like to add my voice to the conversation –it’s a conversation vital to everything we do as humanitarians.
I’ve been thinking about what humanitarians can learn from the corporate sector in terms of localization. When I say “humanitarians”, I mean local, national, international NGOs, UN agencies, etc.
Why do companies localize? What do they know that we (humanitarians) don’t? The localization industry is expected to be worth $37 billion by 2018. Obviously, localization matters to corporations.
Here is what they know:
People remember and respond better to what they learn in their native language.
According to Robert Lane Greene of The Economist, research demonstrates that when people read something in a language they understand, they can comprehend it. If they read something in their mother tongue, they are more apt to believe it to be true.
Simplify, simplify, simplify. Simple messages in native languages work. Content can’t be translated well if it doesn’t make sense in the original language.
Go to the customer. Go to the places where people get information. Localize what you find and create what is missing.
Provide people with knowledge and information, not instructions. Let people decide how to use the knowledge.
Ensure efficient processes. Use technology to speed up (but not substitute for) localization.
We humanitarians know this. But why do companies localize, but we in the humanitarian world don’t?
Same, same, but different
In the corporate translation/content world, localization is about how to make information accessible to customers. For humanitarians, localization is about putting affected people at the center of the humanitarian response.
Maybe it’s the same thing? Doesn’t “leaving no one behind” mean making our “products” accessible to people affected by crises, our customers? Doesn’t putting people at the center of the response mean that they decide which products best suit their needs?
Why are we behind in our participation?
We’ve all heard the excuses:
Translation is too expensive; we don’t have the budgets companies have.
Translation takes too long and people will die.
We don’t have translators on staff, and those we do have focus on the languages that our donors speak, not those languages that affected people speak.
Just give them cash and let them work out what they need. People can make their own decisions.
Let’s address these.
Translation is too expensive
It IS expensive to translate a lot of content. Fortunately, we already have the lessons that the private sector has learned and the tools they’ve developed. We need to:
Decide what is crucial information (not huge tomes)
Ensure that the content is good (for example, not UN or NGO-speak)
Find qualified professional translators (bad translations can kill)
Use translation tools wisely
Make the process efficient
These things cut costs and force us to prioritize.
Translation takes too long and people will die.
Or they will die because they don’t get the right information at the right time in the right way? In my four months at TWB, I’ve discovered that this is really not as hard as we think. TWB currently releases information in Arabic, Farsi, and Greek in less than five hours. And with the social media penetration rates of many of the places we work, we provide the best information to people using high-quality translations, subtitles, or voice overs before most humanitarians can score their visas, flights, hotels and advances.
Localization works even better if there are trained community translators already in the country of need. In-country resources are low-cost and easily developed for all humanitarian and development workers.
As an aid community, we need to think differently. Think about how much you can do virtually, without getting on a plane. For example, TWB has no corporate HQ – our only office is a translation center in Nairobi. All of our staff and our 3,400 translators work remotely.
Just give them the cash.
I agree. Give them the cash. And ensure that those in need have access to
high-quality information that they understand so they know what’s available to best protect themselves and their families.
Localization is as much about improving the quality of assistance as it is about ensuring people can protect themselves and live with dignity. As an aid community, we can only meet our own rigorous standards if people get the information they need in a language they speak and in a format they can access.
With all the other commitments, let’s make sure we really do leave no one behind.
Still not convinced?
Translators without Borders has done a series of very simple comprehension studies. This will make you think:
197 people were asked questions about how Ebola is spread.
8% of the questions were answered correctly
About 100 of these people attended an English information session; the other 100 got the same information in a professionally-translated Swahili session
Both groups were given the same test at the end of the sessions
The group that received information in English got 16% of the questions correct
The ground that received info in Swahili got…
….Wait for it…
92% of the questions correct.
If we’re really serious about ‘leaving no one behind’, then every humanitarian organization should invest in ensuring that key information is already translated into languages where we know disasters will occur (or are occurring) by:
Train community translators and interpreters to listen and respond, alongside community groups.
Ask for translation support. There are tools to rapidly develop local translator networks or global virtual translation/interpreting teams.
Pre-translate questionnaires and make them available in various media. You can sub-title or dub videos or radio programs fairly easily into numerous languages and have them ready for deployment.
Make sure source content is simplified in advance. I shudder to think that we might have to ask translators to translate the CHS graphic. Simple language can be easily translated into languages that are not vocabulary-rich, without compromising the meaning.
It’s not difficult. It’s not expensive. It will improve our accountability. It will save lives.
Come visit TWB in the Innovation Marketplace at the WHS. We will be at booth #2.
Contributors: Val Swisher, Founder & CEO of Content Rules and Donna Parrish, Owner/President of MultiLingual Computing, Inc., publisher of the language industry magazine “MultiLingual” and Co-owner and President of Localization World, Ltd., inputted significantly to this piece. They are TWB Board Members.
By Aimee Ansari, Translators without Borders Executive Director
Translators without Borders responds to communications and language needs in humanitarian and development settings. This means providing vital information to people in need, in a language they can understand. We work with many talented, dedicated volunteer translators who help us to achieve our mission. This post presents one volunteer translator story out of many.
A volunteer translator story: Andrea Alvisi, one of our volunteers who has translated almost 15,000 words for non-profit organizations.
Q: What inspired you to volunteer for TWB?
A: When I approached TWB, I had already been selected by Amnesty International Italy as one of their official translators. I firmly believe that skilled linguists should devote part of their time to a good cause – I see volunteering my translation and interpreting services to charities and NGOs who cannot afford to do this at a fee as an integral part of my professional and personal development. TWB is probably one of the biggest names out there and it counts on thousands of translators all over the world in a wide variety of languages, which I find fascinating.
Q: How long have you been volunteering?
A: I joined the team a couple of years ago. So far I have translated over 14,000 words.
Q: How much time do you spend on doing translations for Translators without Borders?
A: I have a very busy life (don’t we all say that?), so unfortunately I cannot commit to very large jobs. However, I find I can easily fit their projects in my schedule and I usually sit down in the evening or at weekends to complete them. It would be very difficult for me to quantify the exact amount of time spent on each project, but I have to say the very generous deadlines don’t make it feel like a burden at all.
Q: Which language(s) do you translate from / into?
A: I translate from English into Italian.
Q: What types of texts have you translated?
A: When I started volunteering for TWB, I soon realised the majority of their assignments involve some technical jargon. Over the years, I have found myself translating reports of various technical natures pertaining to crisis management and corporate measures. For example, one assignment was to translate a letter to be sent out to various stakeholders for a high-profile football charity. I can honestly say every assignment is different and challenging in its own way.
Q: Have you learnt anything while translating for TWB?
A: Yes, a great deal. Most of the material I have tackled so far relates to the operations of the Red Cross and I have used the background information I gained through volunteering for TWB to apply for a volunteering interpreting position with the Red Cross itself. Volunteering as a translator for TWB also helps to keep your eyes peeled and see things through a different perspective. One of my assignments, for instance, made me think very hard about the difficulties faced by disabled football fans when they wish to take part in a match due the lack of suitable infrastructure in stadia. The world is your oyster, as they say, and it’s out there for you to discover. I feel TWB helps you to do so.
Do you want to join the TWB and create your own volunteer translator story? Sign up at the TWB website.
By Kate Murphy, translators without Borders volunteer