Guest post: Why I volunteer for Translators Without Borders Reply

Pieter_Beens
Pieter Beens is a freelance translator and copywriter working in English to Dutch, and a frequent guest contributor to the Translator T.O. 

In this post, Pieter shares his experience as a volunteer translator for Translators Without Borders.


I just completed a translation for Translators Without Borders, my fourth this year. And I must admit I was touched. This time I translated for a charity that helped orphaned children get back to school after the Ebola outbreak last year. Such a beautiful initiative needs our support. I did my small part by translating their sponsoring letter into Dutch, and hope that the letter will help raise the funds necessary to bring these children back to education. That is why I chose to register as a volunteer for Translators Without Borders a couple of years ago, and why I have already translated more than ten thousand words through this organization for several different charities. And there are many more volunteer translators doing the same, donating their time and effort towards helping various other charity initiatives that deserve support. Through Translators Without Borders, we have already translated 30 million words for a multitude of audiences in almost every country in the world.

About Translators Without Borders

Many of us know Doctors Without Borders, an international organization offering worldwide medical support in the event of humanitarian crises and other urgent situations. In 1993, two pioneers in the translation industry founded a linguistic equivalent of it, Translators Without Borders, aimed to link translators around the world to vetted NGOs that focus on health, nutrition and education. Today the platform is affiliated to ProZ.com and sponsored by many translation agencies worldwide. Translators Without Borders offers them a chance to share their knowledge and resources in order to help the needy, while at the same time sponsoring can show off their social responsibility. The translation agencies do not necessarily offer translations, but they offer funding. Translations are done by professionals who voluntarily sign up to offer their help to organizations in need of translations in their language TWBpairs.

Registering to volunteer your services through Translators Without Borders does not mean you are obligated to accept every project that comes your way through this organization, nor does it necessarily guarantee that projects will be passed to you. As you can imagine, the demand for volunteers varies greatly depending on language pair and pool of available candidates. Indeed, there is a very high demand for professionals working in certain pairs, and less demand in other pairs. There may also be many translators volunteering in some language combinations, and far fewer volunteers available in others.

Why choose Translators Without Borders

Last year I wrote about five reasons to translate for charities and tips for supporting charities as a translator. Translating for Translators Without Borders can be seen as a part of my commitment to offer my professional services to organizations that support those in need. At the same time, Translators Without Borders does not require a huge commitment. In my language pair (English into Dutch) requests are sent irregularly, from organizations like Wikipedia, street newspapers, and the International Red Cross. The nature of translation tasks varies from interviews, to fundraising letters and other important information about diseases like the Zika virus, for which I recently translated a text.

In general, project deadlines can be fairly long; in many cases the deadline for a text with 500 words may be around 10 days, while the deadline for texts with 2000 words can even be 30 days. That enables translators to focus on their important tasks and to do volunteer tasks in their own pace. After having delivered the text many clients often leave gracious feedback, knowing that without our help it would have been much more difficult to reach local audiences in their local languages.

In short, volunteering for Translators Without Borders is a rewarding opportunity that enables freelance translators to use their professionalism and passion for a higher goal. I highly recommend it!


Did you know?

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Members of ProZ.com’s Certified PRO Network do not need to undergo any additional screening process to join Translators Without Borders’s team of volunteers.

You can learn more about this initiative and apply for inclusion in the program here: http://www.proz.com/pro-tag/info/about/

Guest post: The importance of translators for charities 2

This is a guest post by Pieter Beens in promotion of ProZ.com’s ‘Giving Tuesday’ year-end donation drive. To find out more about this initiative and learn how to contribute, visit the drive’s main page: http://www.proz.com/pages/drive


#GivingTuesday is an international phenomenon to raise funds for a host of charities. In the spirit of this event, ProZ.com is hosting the #ProZcomDrive, a special campaign to raise funds for three non-profit organizations: SOS Children’s Villages, Concern Worldwide, and Books For Africa. All proceeds from the ProZ.com ‘Giving Tuesday’ year-end donation drive will benefit these programs to help families in need, raise funds for emergency response programs, and support literacy initiatives.

Although fundraising within the translation community is a major aspect of the campaign, there is much more to say about the importance of translators for charities. In this article I will mention a few.

Translators often do not associate themselves with charities professionally. Of course many of us are involved in volunteer jobs, varying from caregiving to supporting political parties, but there are few translators and translation agencies that continuously support charities for free.

That is nothing to blame translators and agencies for: supporting charities is not the most obvious choice when it comes to sponsoring or even to corporate sustainable development. At the same time many charities do not ask translators and agencies to help them out with translations for free. One initiative to connect charities and translators for free translations is Translators Without Borders.

Translators can play an important role for charities. First of all, they can offer free translations (also outside Translators Without Borders), so charities can do their lovely jobs and reach their goals with a minimum of resources. However, free translations should not be the main objective for charities when collaborating with translators. Indeed, translators can offer much more than just financial help.

Language professionals, and in particular native translators who live in the countries where charities are active, have actual knowledge of the country and culture of the language in which they translate. They can be the “eyes and ears” of the charities they work for, and know how these organizations can be most successful in reaching their goals. At the same time, they can inform charities about local developments, and even point out new goals and locations where their efforts are needed.

Translators can also contribute their commercial knowledge to these organizations to help them better deliver on their mission. For example, they can share best practices in reaching out to the public or in translating different types of texts. They can help educate charities as to how they can be successful in motivating volunteers or raising funds. Translators can also apply their knowledge from particular areas of specialization, like healthcare or technology, in translating texts for non-profit organizations as well.

A final important role of translators in the non-profit sector is the role of networker. Charities often do not know where to find the right translators for a particular language or where to go in a certain country to get help, subsidies or support. Language professionals can guide them to local authorities or centers that can help the charities to realize their goals.

The #ProZcomDrive

All proceeds donated by the translation community from December 1st to December 3rd as part of ProZ.com’s ‘Giving Tuesday’ year-end donation drive will benefit SOS Children’s Villages, Concern Worldwide, and Books For Africa. In turn, Pieter Beens is also donating 10% of his income for the entire month of December to a fourth initiative: Project Jedidja, a project to fight illiteracy and discrimination among disabled children in Guinea Bissau.

Learn more about Project Jedidja here: http://veldwerkers.kimon.nl/jedidja


Are you considering donating translations to charities? Read Pieter Beens’ tips at http://www.vertaalt.nu/blog/tips-for-translators-when-supporting-charities/

Guest post: 5 exciting examples of crowdfunding for translation 2

In addition to his work as a freelance translator and copywriter working in English to Dutch, Pieter Beens is also an active blogger and a ProZ.com professional trainer.  In this guest post, Pieter sheds some light on a few interesting crowdfunding initiatives pertaining to the language industry.


Pieter_BeensThe translation industry is full of innovative technologies and groundbreaking trends, like the logic that CAT tools improve our efficiency and the introduction of translation engines. A new and innovative trend that has emerged outside our industry is the idea of crowdfunding. Crowdfunding websites act as a platform where innovators meet “backers” – people who have the money and will to invest in innovations. In the translation industry, innovations have traditionally been backed by investments from outside the industry, e.g. companies developing CAT tools and related software have not traditionally asked translators for funding. With the rise of crowdfunding projects however, an approach between innovators and backers seemed to be developing within the industry. In this blog post I share 5 interesting examples of crowdfunding initiatives taking place in the translation industry.

Slate Desktop™ – Funding a translation engine
slate-desktopThe most important and groundbreaking current crowdfunding project for translators is Slate Desktop™. This project is already under development and therefore crowdfunding is not necessarily to gain money, but to get some insight as to the support from industry professionals for this initiative. Slate Desktop™ is a piece of software that uses your own translation memories for machine translation. The software requires big TMs (preferably more than 100,000 segments) to learn your tone and style. Once it analyses the content of the TM, you can connect the software to any major CAT tool and use it to machine translate your texts.

This project was developed by industry professionals and has some major benefits. I wrote an analysis on some advantages and drawbacks of Slate Desktop™ at http://www.vertaalt.nu/blog/slate-desktop-opportunities-and-threats/. You may also be interested in reading about some of the practical aspects of Slate Desktop™ in Emma Goldsmith‘s blog post, “Slate and big TMs: the perfect combination?“.

The campaign currently needs only 10% in 10 days, so hurry up and join the forces. People who back now will receive a 40% discount on the purchase price now and a perpetual 40% discount on future upgrades.

Learning language on the loo
It’s not a secret that we need to have a shorter or longer break every now and then. Visiting a toilet is a great idea to get some rest and do some necessary things. People who cannot miss an email can take their tablets with them, but if you want to learn a second language the project “Language and educational books on tissue paper” can be helpful. The people behind this project are looking for funds to produce toilet paper with educational books and languages. Great if you want to unite the useful and the pleasant. The project still needs some backers: it has currently only raised 55 USD from the total 90k they need.

Crowdfunding game and book translations
When you search Kickstarter or Indiegogo for translation projects, you can find a multitude of book translation projects. People either don’t know where to get their books translated or simply want to know whether there is a market for their favorite book in their native language. That principle applies to game localization as well. Square Enix, a Japanese developer of computer games, is looking at opportunities to make fans of the games funders for localization projects. That’s an interesting development and many fans will certainly back localization projects for their favorite games. One benefit is that developers and book fans will spend the money for a quality translation/localization instead of looking for the cheapest translator or for fans who don’t master a language but who like to be part of the localization team. So crowdfunding this way offers some options for professional translators as well.

learnlanguageLearning a language by playing
Another crowdfunding initiative to teach languages was the project “Learn Spanish OR Japanese by Playing a Game”. This project was funded by 133% and has already been developed. In order to play, users need to scan a playing card with their mobile phone. The smartphone then shows a video with a native speaker saying a certain phrase. If the translation is unclear, users can tap a button to see the information they need. During the game, the players help each other speak Spanish or Japanese, using only phrases in the respective language. They can also use sounds or gestures. After a phrase is learned, it is placed in the middle of the table and made available for a “challenge round”. In this round players challenge each other to independently generate the phrase. The Spanish version is for sale here.

Saving a language
An entirely different type of project is “Help Save the Haida Language”. This is a personal project to save Xaayda Kil, a language that is spoken by a select group of inhabitants of Canada. As the organizer of the crowdfunding campaign puts it: “The language is a Canadian cultural treasure, and it is in danger.” Xaayda Kil is spoken fluently by only a few dozen people, many of whom are in their 70s and 80s. The project is meant to get funding for local organizations that are trying to save the language. This initiative may only be relevant for a small group, but it is important from a cultural perspective. The success of the campaign (it was 275% funded) makes it clear that there is even a perspective for endangered languages.


You can find Pieter on the web at Vertaalt.nu, and on Twitter @vertaaltnu

For a list of on-demand training sessions offered by Pieter on ProZ.com, visit: http://www.proz.com/translator-training/trainers/1273/courses

As always, questions, feedback and suggestions for future posts can be posted in the comments section below or via Twitter @ProZcom