Being a Volunteer Translator for Banana Link
I am in my second year of university and now is time for me to think seriously about my future career, internships and work experience. I first heard about Banana Link in February last year during Global Opportunities Week – an event taking place on campus with employers looking for volunteers and advertising for internships. A number of events were about careers using language, which sounded like a good opportunity for me. I have known for a while that I would love to be a translator or at least to find a job that involves some translation. Since I was only in first year at the time, someone directed me towards Banana Link, a co-operative based in Norwich that works closely with banana and pineapple workers in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa to improve their working and living conditions.
A volunteer told me they were looking for French and Spanish translators – and I therefore applied as soon as possible. It was a great opportunity for me to practise translation and I thought it would look nice on my CV if I had gained experience. I passed the translation test and have officially been a volunteer for Banana Link since June!
This job is really convenient for me or students in general: you can work at home and for as many hours as you want, so there is no need to worry about it taking up too much of your precious time (especially while you have a lot of university work). They do not always have texts to translate and, when they do, they send an email to all the translators asking who can and want to do it. There is a deadline but you’re usually given a few days to do it so you never really feel under pressure to do anything!
I’d worked on literary translation a lot at college and university in France (and also as a hobby) but the translation at Banana Link is completely different. Literary and technical translation are two exercises that require completely different skills. While you often need to sound poetic and retain the effects of the original texts in literary translation, technical translation is more about getting each word right and remain as close as possible to the original piece.
So far, I have translated a couple of reports and Power Point presentations for Banana Link and I’ve struggled a lot with the technical terms I’d never in English or even in French! These words are often about the legal rights of workers, plantations but also laws and organisations that do not always have an official translation in French or that I simply do not know about. This is why translating for Banana Link has been an incredible opportunity for me to learn a lot, both in terms of translation but also on a human level about plantation workers in Africa.
My translation of a Power Point from English to French.
To help their translators, Banana Link started working on a very long English/French/Spanish glossary with the technical words most commonly used such as plantation, supply chain, guidelines, World Banana Forum etc. Although most of these terms had been translation to Spanish, there wasn’t much in French. I have therefore set myself the task of translating the whole glossary into French during the summer break! It took a lot of time and research but I completed it. It’s been useful for me and will hopefully help other translators as well.
Banana Link also offers other types of volunteering opportunities in administration, communication and research so if you are interested in gaining valuable work experience, visit their website at http://www.bananalink.org.uk/.