School outreach, the idea of getting high school students and even younger children interested in and informed about translation, seems to be picking up speed as the current generation of translators reaches out to the next. Today, 27 teenagers, one from each EU member state, will be in Brussels receiving their awards as winners of the first Juvenes Translatores (Latin for “young translators”) contest. At the risk of sounding overly casual, I have to say, how cool is that?
In reading the press release about this contest, a few aspects of it struck me as particularly intriguing. First, over 1,300 17 year-olds from across the EU participated in this contest, in which they had two hours to translate a text about sustainable tourism into one of the EU official languages. Thinking back on my own foreign language skills as a high school senior, I find it very inspirational that over 1,000 European teenagers are even capable of doing this type of test. You can read the passage on the Juvenes Translatores website, and it’s not simple!
Second, the Directorate-General of Translation used this contest as an opportunity to highlight not only the work of the young adults who participated, but also that of its own professional translators who evaluated the students’ translations and picked the winners. Leonard Orban, the European Commissioner for Multilingualism, remarked that “These young people have shown that they are the actors of their own and of the EU’s future. They have built bridges between cultures while assembling words for their translation. I am also proud that the work of our translators, often invisible but indispensable to the EU, is in the limelight today.” This contest struck me as one of those win-win PR/education/outreach events that benefits everyone involved; as part of their prize package, the student winners get to travel to Brussels for the awards ceremony and to visit the Directorate-General of Translation, where they will see the DG’s team of professional translators in action.
School outreach is happening on this side of the Atlantic too; The American Translators Association’s School Outreach Program even supplies all of the materials that ATA members need to give a presentation about careers in translation at their local schools. As the School Outreach Program’s web page says, “The linguists-to-be in America’s classrooms today are sitting next to a whole lot of clients-to-be. The more these future doctors, lawyers, and businesswomen know about our field, the more likely they’ll be to appreciate the importance and complexity of our work and compensate us accordingly.”