This Saturday 30th of September is International Translation Day!

This year, the United Nations General Assembly has officially recognised the role of professional translation in connecting nations and fostering peace, understanding and development, by adopting Resolution A/RES/71/288.

At Amara, we want to commemorate translators everywhere, as well as the role of translation in building bridges across cultures. That’s why we’ve asked our users, partners and friends to share stories around the subject of translation, subtitles, and how they make a difference – Check them out below!

Aside from written stories, we’ve also been gathering some exciting video submissions that you can now help caption and translate:

→ Join our International Translation team and look for available assignments in your language!

Want to share your own experiences with translation and subtitles?

Help us spread the word about the importance of subtitled content – Happy International Translation Day :)


Lucrezia Fiorelli: My experience with translation, and why I love it so much

I would have never imagined how translation, especially subtitling, would change my life. The thing is, you have the possibility to open so many different worlds, to so many different cultures just interpreting short sentences or translating entire books.

It doesn’t matter where you are from, the only thing that matters, especially while translating, is to think as the person you are translating for would think. You have to immerge yourself in his or her culture, the environment they come from, and just let go whatever stays outside.

My journey with translation and subtitling starts 2 years ago, when I enrolled at university in Italy, Pisa, to study cultural mediation. I mostly translate from Russian and English into italian, but knowing also French, I got couple of translations.

And it was there, thanks to my professors and classmates, that I realized what a small drop in the ocean we are, and how fundamental is to understand what surrounds us. But, and here is where translators play their role, the one that really matters: we are the bridge that allows different cultures to get linked to each other, to cross boundaries where there are, and not to make feel people alone in a country that doesn’t speak their mother tongue. If you think, translators are always the one that stay backstage, they don’t get recognition if an English book has success in Italy or viceversa. No one would ever say: “OH my God, this is so well translated, who’s the translator that did this?”. Yet we are here, doing our job, silently, knowing that without the hundreds of translators that worked on Harry Potter, nobody would have ever appreciated those books so much.

That is why I love this job, you are never exposed too much, yet you know that what is happening, happens thanks to you.  All translators should know that they are important, it doesn’t matter what you are translating. You are always linking someone or something. These are the main reasons why I do love translating, and why I will always do.

Terrill Thompson: DO-IT Translation Project

The DO-IT Center (DO-IT = “Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology”) at the University of Washington (UW) was founded in 1993 with support from the National Science Foundation. Our original project, which still exists 25 years later with funding from the state of Washington, is called DO-IT Scholars, and is designed to prepare high school students with disabilities for success in college and careers. Scholars attend Summer Study sessions on the UW campus in Seattle, where they experience college life and work on self-advocacy skills.

Throughout the school year, Scholars connect with program staff, DO-IT Mentors, and each other over the Internet. They also meet in-person at DO-IT events, complete individual and group projects, and receive valuable information and support for their transition to college.

Our goal has always been to maximize the potential of individuals with disabilities and make our communities more vibrant, diverse, and inclusive. Over the years, we have produced dozens of videos that feature students with disabilities attending college and pursuing challenging careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
Our overarching message – that individuals with disabilities are highly capable of pursuing challenging careers – has been well-received throughout the world. The DO-IT Scholars program has been replicated in Japan and Malaysia, and is now being adapted for use in Singapore. Video translation plays an important role in our internationalization efforts. We understand that a minority of people in the world speak English, and an even smaller minority of people speak it natively. Our hope is that people throughout the world, including those who don’t speak English, can meet the students with disabilities featured in our videos as they pursue careers in engineering, computer science, and other challenging disciplines.

We launched the DO-IT Translation Project in 2014, and we now have over 400 volunteer
translators on the DO-IT Team on Amara. To date, our videos have been translated into Arabic, Chinese (traditional and simplified), French, German, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, and Vietnamese. We look forward to continuing to expand our message in years to come, and to raising awareness of the potential of individuals with disabilities to contribute in meaningful ways to society. And we greatly appreciate the volunteer translators who are actively helping us with that effort.

Aleli Alcala – Amara, PCF

My family has been in the States for many years, but I was born and raised in the Philippines with English as my second language. After we moved to the States, I saw my parents and sisters work very hard to try and fit into their new world. We all studied English, yet it was difficult. A new culture, a new environment. I learned early on how language can be a barrier to feeling accepted or belonging. TV was how I learned about culture, language, and everything else — it would have been great if subtitles were available. I’ve never forgotten this, which is why I’m so proud to work at Amara today.

Rafael Maguiña: The mythical book

Imagine an author —some might say a genius— who, partly forced by the hardships of his life, partly driven by his thirst for knowledge and his love of languages, came to learn sixteen of them, with varying degrees of proficiency.

Imagine he became a scholar, fascinated with the study of Linguistics and Literature, keen on unraveling their inner workings.

Imagine he wrote a special book where he studies the Poetry of vastly different languages, cultures, and literatures.

That book is not for the world to read. It is a search for truth, and thus, dedicated to truth and truth only.

“The only way to do a Russian poem justice is analyzing it in Russian”, thinks the scholar. “Then, the same is true for a German, English, or French poem”, he concludes.

And he gets to work.

English, Russian, French, German, Polish, and Czech. Dozens of poems, analyzed by him through literary essays written in the six languages he is most skilled in.

Dozens more, written also in other languages he can understand: Old Church Slavonic, Bulgarian, Italian, Japanese, Croatian, Modern Greek, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, and Slovenian.

That book exists.

When it was finally published, the scholar had only one year left to live, but he had gained many students along the way.

At the time, it was not possible to publish the book in its entirety. And nobody dared to attempt a translation. What could be published was left in their original languages. That’s right: a book written for one who could understand sixteen languages.

The book became a locked treasure trove full of secret knowledge, open only in its fullness to a few initiated.

Twenty years later, in the early 2000s, a group of scholars finally attempted to completely translate the book into German. After five years and the combined work of almost fifty scholars from different universities and disciplines, they succeeded.

And now the book is accessible to the world. Can be read, studied, criticized, built upon.

And the world is richer for it.

Lima, 2017-09-26

Molly Michelson – CalAcademy

We’ve been working with Amara successfully for several years on translating and subtitling our short, educational videos for online and social media platforms. We appreciate how their community makes our science videos accessible to people all over the world. But recently, we tried something new. We produced our first video entirely in Spanish, and wanted to share it with visitors on our museum floor. So we worked with Amara to translate and subtitle the video, called Un Chapulín Crujiente (about the sustainable practice of eating insects), so that we could display it on exhibit here. It’s really engaged our visitors and been a huge success!




More than 6 years ago now, I was sent a video totally by chance, entitled “The Best Speech You Will Ever Hear” by Gary Yourofsky.

As an animal lover, I sat through the 45 minutes clip, first amazed, then unbelieving and finally, shocked and in tears.

What I had learned had upset me so much that I felt like I had to share this new information with everyone I knew, particularly my loved ones.

I then contacted Gary to ask his permission to translate his speech in French, which he allowed me to do (since then, it has been translated in 33 languages!).

I knew absolutely nothing about the process, looked on line and found Dotsub where I taught myself to first caption, then translate this video which took the newbie that I was an awfully long time.

That’s what started the ball rolling. I was a woman possessed, searched You Tube, educated myself on the subject of veganism, found heaps of informing, educational, revealing videos that I just HAD to translate.

A couple of years down the track, one content creator happened to have an Amara link at the bottom of her videos which i explored and the rest is history. There, I became better at what was my passion, learning about guidelines and proper etiquette about captions, subtitles and translation.

English is an international language, offering therefore a lot more available material. Communication and knowledge are essential if we want to learn, progress and evolve.

Hence, the importance of the role Amara plays in giving people of the world the opportunity to do just that.

Thank you Amara for allowing me to do what I like and get compensated for it :-)

Alessandra Pace:

My story is probably very similar to other translators’ stories around the world.

Becoming a translator was my dream as a high school student but, I must admit, that my way to it was not without obstacles.

When I asked for some advice from professionals who worked as translators, they strongly discouraged me from choosing this profession. If I had listened to them, I would not have been here to share my experience and maybe to inspire someone to do the same!

Although I had not a formal education in translation, I have always tried to improve the knowledge of my source language, which is English, through self-study and reached a good command of it.

Unfortunately, like in everyone’s life, I went through a long period of uncertainty: I undertook different occupations and new studies, but neither of them gave me that fulfilment that I was looking for and which I am not able to do without.

Finally my first collaboration as a translator came and, with it, my first real opportunity to experience that profession I had been longing for since my school days. I took part in a voluntary initiative which consisted in a collaborative translation of a website that is a place where translators can meet their clients and, most important, where they can exchange their experiences and their ideas with other colleagues.

There I learnt about subtitling, an area of specialized translation which I only heard about till that moment, and replied to a job post from a company which offered this type of services.

I was not so confident I would be selected but what my experience taught me in these years is that, if you are motivated to learn and to acquire new skills, you will be offered an opportunity to try. That was my chance: my first company provided me with the relevant training as a Quality Checker and introduced me to subtitling.

Contrary to what I was told, today I certainly suggest to those who wish to find their own niche in translation: it is worth trying!

Happy International Translation Day to all of you and…..happy subtitling!

Monika Saraf:

I am a nature lover by heart, a home maker, proud mom of two teens. I am passionate about dogs, gardening, and of course translation.

My journey into the wonderful world of translation starts from Chamba, a quaint little town nestled in the lap of the Himalayas. As a language lover from the beginning, I learnt Sanskrit and Urdu along with English and Hindi at school. During high school, I translated teachers’ lectures into English as English medium books were not available there. I did Masters in Economics, then taught Economics in high school and college for a total of eight years.

My husband’s job brought us to the US eight years back. Being on a dependent visa, I could not work here. So, I spent my time volunteering at kids’ schools and browsing the internet; that’s when I came across Khan Academy. I learned one could volunteer to subtitle the videos on Amara. This brought me to the wonderful world of translation. After using Amara for a while, I realized it was an easy platform to learn and simple to work on. I have subtitled some of Khan Academy’s Economics and Elementary Math videos into Hindi on Amara.

Another milestone in my journey was TED Talks. I started watching Ted videos with my family and loved it! Then I thought about my students, and felt if my kids can gain from these videos, why shouldn’t my students back in India. Thus, I committed to being a volunteer Ted translator so my students could understand. My favorite TED Talk is “Speaking to the heart” by Marleen Laschet.

I volunteered for Translators Without Borders. I helped translate and review 95,000 words for a project on e-cancer about palliative care for patients.

After getting my work permit, I decided to venture into the professional world of translation.

Encouraged by my husband and kids, I am now a freelance translator under the name “Anuvaadika”.

Subtitling has given me a new lease of life. I am working with a dozen global companies as a translator, reviewer, subtitler and proof reader. But continue my work as volunteer translator.

Palash Sanyal:

Translation made me realise I am breathing. Translation made me who I am today, translator is part of my identity.
But I was never to be a translator. Growing up, I was not the best in expressing myself. I was good at maths, but not in language. Even falling in love was hard, language itself seemed complicated. The year 2009-10 changed my life’s landscape. I got a computer, got internet and found a website called TED. I fell in love with the talks. But many of the talks, I did not understand properly. I could not grasp the meaning of many words, phrases and ideas. It’s a crazy feeling, to not be able to understand something you love and something that speaks to you, but you can’t understand.
To understand my love, I became a translator. To feel my love, I translated words, phrases and sentences. Seven years have passed and my life will never be the same. A boy who never went out of his country before, translation made me travel remote parts cover distances beyond his imagination. I have carried my life in 4 bags for the last 3 years and I live my life. Thanks to translation and subtitling.
So, Happy International Translation day to everyone!

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