The TWB volunteer who translated 500k words

The first to translate 500k words

“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.”

In March 2016, Eric Ragu became the first Translators without Borders (TWB) volunteer translator to reach the 500,000 translated words milestone. We caught up with Eric to hear about how he did it.

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.”

The beginning

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.

Volunteer

Do you want to join Eric as a volunteer translator? Sign up at the TWB website.

Blog AuthorBy Francesca Debernardis, former Translators without Borders Communications Intern

A translator is never too busy to help when it comes to translation

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.

Join TWB

Do you want to join the TWB and create your own volunteer translator story? Sign up at the TWB website.

Blog AuthorBy Kate Murphy, translators without Borders volunteer