by Haley Dwyer
Hi all! I’m back and it’s sad to say but my time at the Refugee Center is coming to a close. I have done a lot at the Center over this semester and learned a lot from my experiences. One of the skills that I will take out of this experience is the ability to translate documents. At the Center, they translate all sorts of documents in every language. Over the semester, I have translated everything from birth certificates to divorce certificates to diplomas. Through these experiences I have learned a lot about the art of translation.
When translating federal documents to English I have learned the importance of word choice. Different types of documents use different types of words so it is extremely important that as a translator, you realize what type of document you are translating. Because federal documents use specific words that I am not always familiar with, I use wordreference.com often to attempt to choose the perfect word. On wordreference.com there is a discussion space in which people can ask questions and most times the word that I am looking for is in there. This site alone has come in handy during my time at the Center.
Along with picking the most appropriate word, I have learned that formatting the document is also very important. When U.S. customs officers or other officials look at the translation, they want it to look as similar to the actual document as possible. This includes translating the stamps, signatures, and seals that are associated with official documents. I have learned that translating these special things is probably the hardest part of translating a document. The words are not always spelled right and sometimes they are abbreviated or smudged so it is important to spend the time to attempt to fully understand them.
Although translating is time consuming and sometimes monotonous, I have taken joy from doing it at the Center. For me, it is a way for me to get to know and to help someone without actually meeting them. It feels as though they have allowed me to get a closer look at their life and for this I feel blessed. It has also been extremely fascinating to notice the differences in the format and wording of official documents from different countries. This is just one of the many tasks that has made my time at the Center fly by over the semester.