Volunteering and Language Services

Recently, my Belgian colleague Elise Lignian wrote an article about volunteering. Perfect timing! I have dedicated myself to volunteering as well. In an effort not to repeat what Elise said (I agree with all the reasons why language professionals should volunteer), I invite you to read her entry here. By way of a disclaimer, you should have a working knowledge of French to easily grasp the overall concepts.

How did my volunteering journey begin? At the end of 2013, I remember making cold calls and sending spontaneous e-mails to a small number of not-for-profit organizations, arts charities, and festivals. To aid these associations in remembering who I was, I followed up with an e-mail or phone call earlier this year to manifest an interest in offering my services as a translator, editor, proofreader, and writer. Fortunately, one of the charities contacted me in mid-March to translate an article and write a text. Today, I am happy to report that La Scena Musicale, a magazine that puts music and the music industry to the forefront, has published my docufilm review of The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life, as well as an English translation of an article related to music and science in its April-May issue. You may read the review in the magazine. To read my translation—and other English or French translations, you need to become a subscriber. See page 41 of the publication for subscription details. I enjoyed this experience so much that I would like to relive it. The Scena editor has been made aware of my interest in collaborating with future issues.

The journey doesn’t stop here. In late March, I joined the Editors’ Association of Canada‘s membership ranks. Being a member of this not-for-profit organization will give me many opportunities to get to know fellow editors (and other language professionals, for that matter), and will also give me the privilege to put my language services to the test. The English-language managing editor of the association’s Active Voice/Voix active publication contacted me a while ago to find out if I would have time to copy edit and proofread authors’ texts for the upcoming issue (it should be going to print in the next few weeks). Without hesitation, I made myself available for proofreading and copy editing.

Lastly, I accepted to volunteer for the Claude St-Jean Foundation’s Canadian Association for Familial Ataxias, an organization that addresses symptoms related to difficulties with coordinating voluntary movements. I will be expected to translate a plethora of general, medical, and administrative texts on a monthly basis. I still await word from the Eastern Townships Film Festival with regard to my role as a translator, editor, and writer for this year’s edition.

“Why are you volunteering for these associations when you know you won’t get paid?” you ask. It’s a valid question that requires honest answers. First, I care about the cause, whether it’s a cause related to the arts, the medical industry, the environment, or even politics. In the case of the Editors’ Association of Canada (EAC), I became a member and volunteer because I felt the organization lacked—and still lacks—visibility in Canada’s French-language communities and among professionals who work in French. Make no mistake: I am a fervent believer of bilingualism, multilingualism, and multiculturalism! Second, I am always interested in gaining new experiences that could lead to other paid projects or entry-level workplace positions. Remember, these experiences always look good on a CV or a LinkedIn profile! Third, being a volunteer translator, editor, and writer allows me to put my energies into other capacities when work is slow. Believe me, there’s never a dull moment to be had when I invest my energies somewhere else. I have fun with what I do.

Obviously, volunteering neither replaces paid work nor does it help you make a decent living. Common sense is the guide: Be sure not to put too many volunteer eggs in one basket. Whenever you have some down time, think about volunteering for an association, a cause, an interest, a passion. You’ll be glad you did.


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