The volunteer staff at Translators without Borders (TWB) is adept at donning many different job hats and Kalinka Hristova, the interviewee in this issue, is no exception. Our newly appointed NGO Approval Manager, Kalinka likes to keep us on our toes with salient quotes at the end of her emails, such as: “Not to know is bad; not to wish to know is worse.” Her own thirst for knowledge and quest for quality ensure that there is no fear that this quote could ever be applied to Kalinka.
Q: If you were to write a brief Wikipedia article about yourself, what facts and personal characteristics would you include?
A: I’m Bulgarian and I live in Bulgaria, surprisingly! I think I must be one of the very few who hasn’t left. I love my country’s nature, its traditions, and its caves. I am very fond of speleology, which I practice as a hobby. During my university years, I started practicing extreme caving. I hold a degree in tourism, and as a tour guide I have specialized in caving tourism. There are only nine tourist caves in Bulgaria; they are so different, so quiet… I just love them!
As regards translation, it happened gradually in my life and became an integral part of it. I have always been fond of languages. As a child, I wanted to know four or five languages, and now I can speak seven foreign languages! So, I’ve actually exceeded my childhood dream.
My working languages are Spanish, English and Bulgarian; tourism and translation are a good match.
Q: What is your role at TWB?
A: I am a volunteer translator and reviewer, I assist with the volunteer translation and training center and I am also responsible for approving new clients. When an NGO asks for a translation service, I assess whether their aims align with Translators without Borders’ goals.
Just recently, I helped to build the English to Swahili database, working from home.
Q: What has motivated you to help TWB?
A: I cannot remember exactly how I came to know about TWB; I guess it was something published on ProZ.com, in one of the forums or news on the site. I would love to do more charity work, but I do not have the financial means. However, TWB has given me the chance to do volunteer work, and I am very grateful for this opportunity. I am really happy; I feel passionate about my tasks at TWB.
Q: What is a day in your life like?
A: I work from home, online. I get up; I have one (or two!) cups of coffee. Every single day is different since I learn different things. If I do not learn something new one day, it is a day lost for me. Luckily enough, I do not know everything; I feel I have so many worlds to discover.
Q: How do you squeeze in time for your volunteer tasks?
A: It is quite easy, really. I do not need to squeeze in time for it; I just do it. Naturally, when I have a tight deadline, it becomes the priority. But I am always available for TWB.
Q: What do you consider are the challenges ahead for your role and for TWB?
A: Well, being part of TWB is great fun and very rewarding. The greatest responsibility is to constantly improve my services as a translator and assistant. Working on a volunteer basis, there is no editor or reviewer, so it is as is. In this respect, it is a really big challenge. I feel I have to deliver top quality always regardless of being tired or having other projects. It is equally important as my regular paid work. The same goes with administrative work. We definitely need to provide high service quality, to process every application on a timely basis for organizations that require a translation job.
Q: What would you say to someone who is thinking about joining a cause like TWB?
A: Just do it. It’s fun; it is recognition and prestige. It is rewarding. So many people in the world need our volunteer services because they cannot afford a paid translation.
Q: What do you feel is your greatest achievement within TWB and beyond TWB so far? What is your biggest dream in life?
A: Translators without Borders has meant career growth for me. I feel that every step – as a volunteer translator, as a reviewer, my involvement in the Wikipedia project, and so on – has translated into recognition of my professionalism.
I have so many dreams… in terms of my profession, I aim to get better and better. I do not want to become the best translator, just a better one.
In paper: any book by the Bulgarian writer Yordan Yovkov, who portrays the Bulgarian way of living very accurately.
On the web: ProZ
Outdoor activity: mountaineering and speleology
With friends: travelling, tourism, photography
Family gathering: any gathering, no particular reason involved, just for the sake of talking, sharing and travelling.
By Lorena Baudo, Translators without Borders volunteer