Posted by: SSU Lingua Franca | May 4, 2021

Where language skills meet real life: the Translation Certificate program at Salem State University

By Elizabeth Blood

Salem State University’s department of World Languages and Cultures offers a unique opportunity for language students to put their skills to work in our local and global communities. As part of the Translation Certificate program, students complete real translation projects for a number of community partners. Here are three students who are making the most of this opportunity to build a strong portfolio of translation work, even before they graduate. 

Kenneth Hyland, a senior in the Bachelor of Arts in World Languages and Cultures (Spanish concentration) and the Translation Certificate program (Spanish/English), has developed his translation skills in numerous settings. His first gig was as a blog writer and social media content creator at Sperling Interactive in downtown Salem. There he encountered some of his first real-world experiences in translating web content for clients. During that same period, he also accepted an internship in the Office of Constituent Services at Salem City Hall, where, from the first day, he translated a number of documents for the City’s Spanish-speaking community. 

Most recently, at the Life Alive restaurant in Salem, the administrative staff noticed his abilities to interact and communicate with the Spanish-speaking clientele. Not surprisingly, they asked that he become the on-site Spanish translator for the Salem location. Kenneth has already translated a manual for the company’s Spanish-speaking employees, and has more projects in the pipeline. As Kenneth writes, “Though I may be just starting out in the field of translation, I am excited to see what other opportunities are out there and where my skills will lead me in the future. The art of translation is a beautiful tool that can bring together two communities that may not otherwise see the world in the same light. As a translator, it is my duty to afford one person or a whole community the opportunity to read and understand something that was not written in their native language.”

The City of Salem has had an on-going partnership with Dr. Kristine Doll and the students of Spanish in the translation and community placements programs for over a decade.

Mathias Neuhen Cardona, a senior in the Bachelor of Arts in World Languages and Cultures (Italian concentration) and Translation Certificate program (Italian/English), has been translating promotional material for the Italian company Nido di Seta since September 2020 as his community service for the translation program.

Nido di Seta is a group of young Calabrians who decided to take on a very specific challenge: to return to their land, Calabria, and to make sericulture (silk production) their main activity. They follow the complete process starting from the ground to the production of the precious fiber. The company’s key goals are: protection of the environment and landscape, economic growth of the territory and sustainable development. One of the co-founders, Miriam Pugliese, thus expressed all her gratitude to Mathias and his Italian professor Dr. Anna Rocca: “I would like to thank you twice because your initiative can really make a difference in the visibility of small companies in our region!” You can find one of Mathias most recent projects here: creating English subtitles for a promotional video about how to adopt a mulberry tree! 

Raymond Harris, a junior in the Bachelor of Arts in World Languages and Cultures (French concentration) and Translation Certificate program (French/Spanish/English), has taken on many challenges within our translation program. One notable project is the Visages d’en faces website created by Parisian artist and activist, Christine Boulanger. Boulanger’s goal is to present portraits of everyday people in Paris and tell their stories in workshops, exhibits and public readings, with the goal of celebrating our common humanity and changing our perspectives about others, whether in a company or in a neighborhood. Boulanger began collaborating with Dr. Elizabeth Blood and the students in the SSU French program in 2017, and Salem State students have been helping to translate her ever-growing repository of the unique life stories of her artistic subjects. 

Raymond began work on the Visages d’en faces project in spring of 2019, working on a particularly challenging piece. Raymond writes: “One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced was my community translation project for Visages d’en faces by Christine Boulanger. I was selected to translate her written portrait of a man named Mike Finken, from English into French. To say this was a difficult task would be an understatement. Mike was a well-spoken creative man who used beautiful descriptive language to articulate his thoughts and feelings. I am so proud of this project in particular, because it pushed me to my very limit and brought out some of the best work I’ve ever produced. Whether Mike will ever know it or not, he’s taught me so much about the French language and what it takes to be a translator.” You can find Raymond’s published translation of Mike’s story here

Raymond will continue his collaboration with Boulanger this spring, as he takes on additional translation projects from Visages d’en faces for his senior translation portfolio. 

While the students featured here are also language majors, students in the certificate program may be simply minoring in a language or may be heritage or bilingual speakers who are seeking to add an extra credential to their studies. 

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