Fifth CTS Professionalisation Talk 2017-18

Translators without Borders Program Officer, Ambra Sottile, spoke at the recent event.

The Centre for Translation Studies (CTS) was excited to hear from Translators without Borders (TWB) Program Officer, Ambra Sottile. TWB plays a key role in connecting translators and interpreters with non-profit organizations who desperately need their skills. Since starting up in 1993, TWB has grown exponentially and now has an impressive 20,000 volunteer language professionals who work with over 190 languages. The organization has been instrumental in responding to issues worldwide such as the refugee crisis in Europe and the hurricane that recently hit the USA. Ambra rounded off the talk by explaining how budding linguists could complete a quick and easy application to support the cause.

Ambra began by explaining how TWB ensures that knowledge knows no language barriers. The organization enables information to be shared in local languages by connecting non-profit organizations to volunteer translators who work into more than 190 languages.

TWB was founded by Lori Thicke in 1993 in France. But it really kicked off in 2010 when it responded to the Haiti earthquake crisis by translating related content into local languages.

The organization has been gaining ground ever since. Nowadays, TWB has translated around 50 million words, and has 20,000 language professionals on its books.

TWB focuses on areas such as rapid crisis response and 24/7 available translation services, development, technological and health content, and advocacy.

Some notable examples of TWB’s output include collaborative projects with international organizations. For example, it has worked with the UN Refugee Agency, translating content not only into refugees’ native languages, but also into eight European languages to ease interaction between the cultures. TWB also assisted the World Health Organization with a crisis response project in Africa by translating medical materials.

Ambra went on to talk about how TWB works. There are two platforms, one connecting non-profit organizations to translators, and the other connecting them to interpreters. TWB uses the CAT tool Kató which is free and allows professional translators to comment on your work.

So, how do you apply? There are no restrictions on who can apply for the organization, whether you are a translator, translation student or simply someone bilingual. You will first have to fill out the form on the volunteer section of the website, and you will then be asked to complete a translation test. The process is quick and easy and, once accepted, you will be able to do translations on world issues from the comfort of your own home. Ambra also mentioned that TWB offers internships (which can be found on the website) and that they are happy to provide references.

The audience’s desire to get involved came through in their questions as students eagerly considered how best they could contribute. Ambra’s replies were encouraging, as she confirmed that there are various interpreting opportunities (including a Brussels congress in November on poverty), and that TWB is keen to recruit volunteers to subtitle medical material on Wikipedia. The students went away from the talk knowing that TWB would not only help them grow their CVs as translators, interpreters, project managers, or subtitlers, but that it would also allow them to contribute to an important humanitarian cause.

Reporters: Norhan Mahmoud, Sophie Roche, Jinzan Shi, Yang Shi