A group of volunteer translators dedicated eight hours a week for three months to support the WFP Centre for Excellence against Hunger with the translation of documents and publications. The four students contributed to knowledge exchange activities among developing countries. The volunteer internship was also an opportunity to enrich their curricula with a translation experience for a United Nations agency. The documents translated by them will be used in the Centre’s remote support activities with partner countries.
The WFP Centre of Excellence supports more than 30 countries in the creation and implementation of policies and programmes to fight hunger. One of the most frequent themes in the technical assistance offered by the Centre to these countries is school feeding. In 2018, the WFP Centre made concrete contributions to strengthening school feeding programmes in 17 countries, benefiting approximately four million children and thousands of family farmers. Part of this work involves disseminating information and knowledge, and for that, translation is an indispensable tool.
The four young translators are students of translation at the University of Brasilia. They all had experience as language teachers, but they also wanted to acquire professional experience with written translation. “When I saw the call for the volunteer selection process, I decided to try. I had already finished my master’s classes and I thought it would be a good experience to volunteer for the World Food Programme and acquire knowledge,” says Carolina Kossoski.
Pedro Henrique Reis, who had learned English from his grandmother who was an English teacher, had never done any translations professionally, despite teaching English since he was 17 years old. Luís Paulo Lopes, the only one in the group who worked with translations into French, accepted voluntary work as a way to enrich his curriculum. Vitória Rufino, who had already worked as a translator at the university’s start-up, realized at the time that she liked working with translation more than with language lessons: “the work at the WFP Centre of Excellence enabled me to combine my ability with translation with a work that I admire”.
The four translators are unanimous when asked about the greatest challenge of the work: “translate very specific themes, learn a new vocabulary”, explains Luís Paulo. To make matters easier, the translators worked together on a glossary with the most frequent terms, which was improved over the weeks. In addition to all the documents they translated, this glossary will be a legacy of this dedicated team to the WFP Centre of Excellence.
The translation may be a solitary job, but at the WFP Centre of Excellence translators were able to learn from teamwork. “In addition to learning about the issues with which the Centre works, I also learned a lot from the peer review process. We did a rotation scheme to review each other’s work and we were able to learn by comparing and contrasting the solutions each one of found,” says Carolina. Pedro adds: “It was great to learn from the other translators, to help and to be helped, and also to work with the WFP Centre staff.”
“I think it’s very worthwhile to devote yourself to volunteer work, especially at the beginning of your career. In addition to improving my curriculum, I was able to learn how the work of the United Nations is done and what I can do to help,” says Vitória. “The best part was getting to know the WFP, the work it does, the staff, and the themes. I discovered that I knew very little about school feeding, for example. Although it is not a paid job, it is an immeasurable experience and I would do it again,” says Luís Paulo.
“The WFP Centre of Excellence did everything to give us the best conditions to work. Working schedules, investments in staff wellbeing, the visibility and scope of our work were excellent. It was very surreal to think that a text of mine would be sent to another continent and would help in the training of school cooks that will use this new knowledge to feed children,” says Pedro.
“If you are thinking of doing volunteer work, do not worry about not being paid, because at the beginning of your career this experience is one of the best you can have, since it makes it possible to make contacts, work as a team, and learn a lot”, advises Carolina.