TRANSLATION ACROSS CAMPUS: Translate-a-Thon 2017 — An Interview with Alexandra Husted (Ford School of Public Policy), by Anjali Alangaden

One of the most enjoyable parts of Translate-a-Thon has to be the share out on Sunday afternoon. After three days of collaboration and translation, participants have the chance to come together and share what exactly they’ve been working so hard on. Although the Sunday session tends to be a bit smaller when compared to the crowds on the other two days, the ideas being discussed were anything but.

In addition to describing the variety of materials that had been translated over the weekend — from community cookbooks to domestic abuse pamphlet — participants also discussed the challenges they faced and how they see translation evolving in the age of online translators.

For me, one of the most novel parts of this Sunday was the closing workshop on how to professionalize translation experiences. I’ve always known there is great value, both metaphorically and monetarily, in having documents and words in an accessible language. However, I had zero idea on how to actually go about finding opportunities and choosing which are most suitable. Really interesting stuff!

Just prior to the share out, I spent a few minutes talking to Alexandra Husted, a graduate student in the Ford School of Public Policy about her Translate-a-Thon project. Prior to coming to Michigan, Alexandra worked as a project manager at a small translation firm, so this sort of work was more than familiar to her.

How did you hear about the Translate-a-Thon?

I think we got an email from someone at the Ford school. I saw it and just figured I’d check it out.

What are you working on translating today?

For Freedom House, it’s a privacy statement for their clients. Freedom House works with refugees and I’m translating into French.

What have you found the most challenging part of this?

It’s pretty technical legally, so that terminology is pretty difficult. Unfortunately it just has to be technical and legal, so it’s not always going to be that understandable to people in kind of hard situations, but in order for Freedom House to cover themselves they have to stick with more regulatory language, I think.

What have you found the most rewarding part of this?

Well I’ve only been here today, so I haven’t worked on that much. But obviously, this is important information. And even if it’s sort of legalese, if it’s not in your own language, you know, or at least in a language you speak, you can’t understand it at all. So it’s nice to help out with that.

Where did you originally learn French?

I just took it in school for a very long time. And then I studied abroad. I studied it in high school and middle school and maybe before.

Have you worked on translation projects before?

At Michigan or in general? In general, I used to work at translation company. It was pretty small just outside of D.C. I was a project manager for them, so I had some translation experience going in. At the organization I was mostly managing, so not translating that much. But mostly, I tended to translate from French into English. If you’re serious or more rigorous translation, that’s generally what you would want. At that job it was also pretty technical, kind of legal-y stuff!

-Interview  by Anjali Alangaden, October 2017