Volunteer Translation

Posted May 3, 2006 by translatorwannabe
Categories: Translation Practice

I just finished a French to English volunteer translation job that I got through Ashoka volunteers, and I'm feeling very good about it.  Although, I've done some volunteer translating in the past, I found this experience especially rewarding because I learned a lot of useful vocabulary from the financial field. 

Volunteer translations are a great way to get some free translation practice, because unlike simply translating articles and texts from published works for practice, you get to see how it is for a real freelance translator.  Although you're not getting paid, you do have an actual "client" that you're working for and there is an actual deadline to meet, so you get to work on your professionalism and your client relation skills, which are important aspects of the translation business.  Also, it's a good way to get references to show to future (paying) clients.

 Here are some sites where I've found volunteer translation jobs in the past:

 Ashoka Volunteers: www.ashoka.org

They have a newsletter that they send out periodically, which is where I found this last job that I did.  They pretty much always have translation jobs advertised on the newsletter, so this is a really good place to start, especially for speakers of Spanish or French.

Changemakers: www.changemakers.net

Changemakers is an organization that focuses on social entrepreneurship. It provides solutions and resources needed to help everyone become a changemaker and presents compelling stories that explore the fundamental principles of successful social innovation around the world. They are constantly holding "competitions" for proposals on social entreprenuership. There is usually a cash prize for the best proposal, and entrants come from all over the world, so a lot of the  proposals have to be translated into English.

Idealsit.org – Action without borders: www.idealist.org

You can do a search through their "Volunteer opportunities" link and find all sorts of volunteer jobs, not just in translation.

 Volunteer Match: www.volunteermatch.org

Do an advanced search and enter keyword "translation"

Another way to get free translation practice is to offer to translate websites.  There was a Columbian organization that advertized in Ashoka last year that they needed some things translated into English, so I e-mailed them and offered my services.  Unfortunately, they said that they had already found someone to translate the documents for them but that they would keep my info on file for any future translation needs. Now, just yesterday I happened upon their site when I was researching volunteer translation sources to list in this post, and I noticed that their "English version" page was still "under construction". Since I still had the e-mail address of the organization's president, I decided to send him an e-mail offering to translate their website into English.  This time he was more than happy to take me up on my offer.  Here's what he wrote:

"Muchas gracias, [TW]. Pronto te mandaré unos documentos para que me ayudes con el inglés. Me será muy pero muy útil."

So, now I'll get some website translation experience and another reference to give to future "paying" clients! Sweet Deal!




Not enough Dixie!

Posted April 19, 2006 by translatorwannabe
Categories: Grammar

What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

Your Linguistic Profile:

55% General American English
25% Yankee
20% Dixie
0% Midwestern
0% Upper Midwestern


I saw this on another language blog, Logomacy, and decided to take the test myself. 

I was born and raised in the South, yet I'm only 20% Dixie when it comes to my English. I must admit that the only real southern thing about my English is that I use the word "y'all" (which is short for "you all" for those who don't know). I use it because, to me, it's perfectly logical and grammatically correct. It's like "vous" in French or "vosotros" in Spanish. Some say that the plural and singular forms of the verb "you" in English are one and the same.  I say that there is "you" and then there is "y'all".  That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

E.S.I.T. exam continued

Posted April 19, 2006 by translatorwannabe
Categories: The Exam

Well, it's a little after 1:00 in the morning here in the States, and I'm having a little insomnia for some reason.  So, I thought that now would be as good a time as any to finally update my loyal readers on my experience with the E.S.I.T. exam. I kept intending to get to it, but things were so hectic at work that I would come home exhausted and then put it off another day. So, finally, here goes!

 Let's begin on Friday, March 31, which is when I had my flight scheduled out of Atlanta to arrive in Paris that Saturday. Well, the flight was cancelled, so I had to call my travel agency to book a new flight so that I wouldn't have to buy another ticket.  There was a lot of waiting around the airport, talking on my cell phone to Stella my travel agent, fighting back tears while thinking that my dreams of attending graduate school in Paris would be cut short before I even had the chance to board the plane.

Fortunately, Stella was able to book me another flight the next day (Thanks, Stella, and thank you, STA Travel!!), and I arrived safe and sound in Paris that Sunday morning. My friend Leonce, who owns a hair salon just outside of Paris, was supposed to pick me up at the airport, but because of my change in flight, I had to take a cab to where he was because he was busy doing some bookkeeping at the salon. He paid for my cab, of course, and drove me in his car to my hotel so I could put up my bags.  Later that day we took the metro to the Universite Paris Dauphine, where the exam would be held the next day. It's in the 16th arrondissment, which is kind of an upper class area of Paris.  Leonce and I bothed noticed how clean and pretty the area was, and I was already falling in love with the place.

The next day, I took the metro again alone, to the Universite Paris Dauphine to take the first exam, which would be starting at 2p.m. This exam would be a test of my competence in the French language.  I didn't have my "convocation" that they said I needed along with a "piece d'identite" to be admitted into the exam hall. I had e-mailed the university the day before to inquire about my convocation. They said that I could pick it up in the E.S.I.T office in room P.217 at 1:30p.m.  When I got there, I asked a woman who seemed to be ushering people to the exam hall where room p.217 was so I could pick up my convocation. She hurriedly led me to the office to pick it up, and then I had to run to the exam hall to make it there before 2pm. However, the exam didn't really start until about 2:30, I think. They had everyone move around so that the non-francophones sat in the front and the francophones sat in the back. I didn't understand this at first (I'm embarrassed to admit), but I figured it out later and moved down to the non-francophone section.

 I have to admit that before I took the exam, I thought the French exam would be the easier of the two. After all, I spoke French, and have been able to speak, read and write it fluently for quite a while, so I thought it would be a piece of cake for me.  Boy was I wrong!  There were 3 parts to the French exam. The first part wasn't so bad.  It was short answer, "fill in the missing word" kind of stuff. In that section, I put an answer for all except one that I wasn't sure about. They had told us about their point system before the exam, that a correct answer was worth 3 points, a wrong answer -1, and if you left it blank you didn't get anything added or taken away, so if you weren't sure, it was best to just leave it blank.  Keeping this in mind, I skipped over all the questions I wasn't sure about in the other 2 sections, but when I got to the end of the exam, I noticed that I had way too many blanks on my paper to get a decent score. So I had to go back and fill in some of the ones that I was sort of sure about so that I would have a better chance of passing.  I gambled with a few of them, putting answers when I wasn't too sure, but I told myself that it was better than leaving all of them blank.  But for some of them, I didn't even try to put an answer because I had absolutely no idea what to put.  Also, we couldn't use dictionaries so this made the exam a bit harder.

  Anyway, I left the exam exhausted and starving and stressed out of my mind. I had no idea if I had done a good job, and I wanted to cry.  My friend Leonce met me after the exam to accompany me on the metro back to my hotel.  I told him about how I wasn't sure about the exam. He tried to comfort me and tell me everything would be alright, but right then, I was unconsolable.  At that point, actually did shed a few tears and I told him the truth about why I was so upset which was that I didn't want to go back to my family and tell them that I had failed. They'd been so supportive and encouraging through all this, I just couldn't let them down.

 After going with Leonce to get something to eat, I came back to the hostel to take a shower and to get some rest. I also did quite a bit of praying that evening, and with all the anxiety I was feeling, I was surprised I got any sleep at all. Luckily, my roommates at the hostel, Johanes and Anna, two German university students on holiday in Paris, were there to help me take my mind off things that night. But the results wouldn't be posted until Wednesday, so Tuesday was just a blur of anxiety and nervousness. I can't remember anything that happened that day, but I don't think I did a whole lot that day because with all the stress I was feeling, I wasn't really good for anything.

The people at the university had said that the results of the first exam would be posted around 10am on their website. Around 11:30am, I mustered up the courage to look on the site and search for my name.  My stomach was all in knots as I scrolled down the list. I got near the end, and finally saw my name posted. I don't think I've ever been so happy in my life. It was the biggest feeling of relief in the world followed by the greatest feeling of joy.  I wanted to jump up in the air and scream "Yaaaaaaahhhooooooooooo!!!!!!!" right their in the hostel lobby! Luckily, I was able to maintain my composure, but that happy feeling stayed with me all day and for the next couple of days, right up until Friday, the day of the translation exam.

 The translation exam was an all-day event lasting from 10am to 4:30pm. I got there a little late, but it wasn't too bad because someone else arrived after me. His name was Walter and he was American as well. We had the same language combination (English-French-Spanish) and we were both from the South, I found out after talking to him during one of the breaks, and he'd even visited my hometown before. He was working as a bilingual assistant at a law firm there in Paris, and was surprised to learn that I had come all the way to Paris JUST for the exam. I smiled at the thought, realizing just how far I'd come for this.  I think that realization helped through the rest of the exam.

At the end of that exam, I left feeling relieved rather than stressed, and Leonce was there again to meet me and ask me how everything went. He noticed how different I was from when I came out of the first exam, and he was happy to see me like that. We had a pleasant metro ride and then a pleasant dinner that evening. I returned to my room and told Johanes and Anna about the exam. I also wrote home to my family and friends to let them know that I was all done.

So, now I have to wait until May 9th for the results, and my old anxiety is coming back.  I'm surprised I can still function. Some major life decisions are depending on the results of that exam, so I feel like my life is on hold until I know the results. I mean, I can't make any definite plans until then.

Anyway, that's my experience, and I'm sorry it took me so long to write about it.  Last week, I remebered that one of my readers, Alexis, had said that she would be taking the exam as well, and I was happy to see her name on the list of "etudiants admissibles" as well. CONGRATULATIONS, ALEXIS, AND GOOD LUCK ON THE SECOND EXAM!!

And good luck to all those who took the E.S.I.T. translation exam this year, and I hope to see you in October!!

A bientot!


E.S.I.T. exams

Posted April 7, 2006 by translatorwannabe
Categories: The Exam

well, i'm here in france and i have a lot to post about the exam. but i don't really have the time to write everything because I have a lot to do to prepare for the trip home. so, i'll save the stories for when I arrive.

 A bientot!


Posted March 26, 2006 by translatorwannabe
Categories: Preparation (admin)

About a week ago I started to get nervous about my application
that I sent to E.S.I.T. Had they received? Was everything
acceptable? I was starting to really obsess about it, so I decided to
e-mail the school and see. Here's the response I got:

From: "Christophe Nicolau-Bergeret" <Christophe.Nicolau-Bergeret@univ-paris3.fr> Add to Address BookAdd to Address Book Add Mobile Alert
To: "Translator Wannabe"
Subject: Re: dossier d'inscription
Date: Tue, 21 Mar 2006 17:36:07 +0100


Votr dossier a bien été
enregistré, vous recevrez prochianement une convocation aux


Ecole Supérieure d'Interprètes et de Traducteurs
Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle
Centre Universitaire DAUPHINE
75775 Paris
Cedex 16 – France

Well, it seems like all systems are go. According to Christophe,
everything's cool with my application. I had to buy a new
passport because I lost my old one and the replacement came in the mail
yesterday. I've put in for a weeks vacation at my job. My flight
and hotel are all paid for. Everything seems to be falling into

…so why am I still a nervous wreck!

Back in the Saddle!

Posted March 26, 2006 by translatorwannabe
Categories: General

One of my favorite blogs has come off of hiatus and has started adding new posts. Check out The Court Interpreter to read about "the trials and tribulations of interpreting for Spanish speaking defendants."

Ready, Set, Go!

Posted March 26, 2006 by translatorwannabe
Categories: General

My father and I ran in our city's annual 10K race yesterday, and  I was happy to discover this morning that my body had recuperated nicely from yesterday's aches and pains. This was my first time running in it, and I'm just happy that I got through it and that I wasn't last (I finished in 1 hour and 22 minutes, while my father finished in about 1 hour).

Right before the start of the race I ran into my old Spanish professor, Dr. Brown. She said that she ran this race every year even though she always came in last (I know she was kidding of course because she jogs a lot more regularly than I do). I told her that she didn't have to worry about that this year because I was going to take her place as last-place-finisher.  We talked some more and naturally she asked me what I'd been up to since graduation.  I was happy to report that I (unlike a lot of my fellow graduates) was ACTUALLY working in my field and using my language skills. Our encounter put me in a good mood and gave me a bit of a boost for the start of the race. During the run, my mind wandered to a lot of things and naturally it ventured into the philisophical.  I thought about how this race was a metaphor for life and the attainment of a goal.  I thought about how in life it's important to go at your own pace and to not get caught up in comparing your progress to that of others. Just run your own race. However, that doesn't mean that you can't socialize for a while with those around you. Lots of people were holding conversation with those around them (whether they knew them or not) in order to have a sense of fellowship and comradery, and also to motivate each other not to stop and to remind them of the progress that they'd already made. Also, one of the biggest motivators were the people standing on the sidelines cheering us on and giving us mini-pep talks saying "You can do it!" or "Your doing great!".  People were playing music (like the theme song from Rocky) and holding up signs, and there was even a group of belly dancers (yes, that's right. BELLY DANCERS!) on the sidelines cheering for us! It was all very surreal, like being in a dream or a movie or something!

It was a wonderful experience and I hope to do it again next year. If I'm in France, I'll just have to fly down that weekend and run the race with my Dad again. Hopefully, I can shave some mintues of my time. It's something to work towards and look forward to.