My starting experience as a volunteer translator

By Bouchra L.
In my blog, I write about topics interesting me or drawing my attention that I want to share with other readers. In this article, I would like to tackle my experience in volunteer translation work. There might be gaps between translation projects in which a translator does not receive translation jobs. In such situations, some translators may choose to learn new skills. Others prefer to do marketing, practice a hobby or just relax. In my case, I thought about volunteering.

While I was looking for online information about volunteering in translation, I found a website called Global Voices. I read it is “an international and multilingual community of bloggers, journalists, translators, academics, and human rights activists”. Translation is one of the contributions of its volunteers that aims to ensure that language is not a barrier to understanding. I realized that there are varieties of topics that can be translated including cultural and political themes. Since I enjoy translating topics of my choice, I contacted them and later started contributing as a volunteer translator.

I choose to translate articles that capture my interest and make me learn something new about what is happening in the world from the author’s viewpoint. In this way, I would enjoy the whole process of translation. I chose to contribute to the Arabic version and translate articles into Arabic. After translating the third article, I read a report about the website traffic written by and received from the coordinator. The report says, among others, that there is a spike in the Arabic traffic in September thanks to my translation of an English article. This news really made my day! It made me eager to translate more articles.

For me, it is fascinating to know that I can contribute to spreading the word. I think volunteering in translation may give translators the opportunity to choose a field or a topic they are interested in, which may be different from their field of specialization. For instance, a translator may be specialized in legal translation and more interested in media translation. The translator’s specialization may be due to its high demand in the market. Volunteer translators, as in the example of Global Voices, have enough time to be creative and think about the different possible alternatives in translation. On the contrary, the tight deadlines given by clients may not enable translators to benefit from this possibility. I have not yet discovered and participated in all the pages of Global Voices such as its community blog. For this reason, I consider it an ongoing experience.

Hence, volunteering in translation enables translators to get involved with new topics that could not be tackled in the paid work. To enjoy what you translate through volunteering must make you feel good. It is worth a try.

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