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 them that I already translated 500,000 words for NGOs.”
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 wants 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.”
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 got 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 got more 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.”