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EXPO 2017 Enquiry mission visit to Astana through the eyes of interpreter

February 15th, 2012

First I would like to give some background information on the International Exhibitions Bureau (BIE) and how it is related to Astana and my work.

I am sure that many people have heard of the Universal Exhibition – for example the one for which the Eiffel Tower was built. Something similar but of a smaller scale (not a universal but a so-called recognized exhibition) is planned for 2017 and Astana is bidding to host this exhibition. Astana’s main competitor is Liege (Belgium). The decision on the host country will be made by the end of 2012 and in order to facilitate this decision the Enquiry mission visited both Astana and Liege to see if the cities are able to host several millions of visitors that will come to see the exhibitions. This is how 9 delegates of BIE found themselves in Astana in March, 12-16. It was my job to provide both simultaneous and consecutive translation during the visit. It goes without saying the programme was very tight so I will only mention events in which I was involved myself.

March, 11 – arrival day. Organizers of the visit decided to make it an “easy” day for the delegates and use some time before the official part of the visit to introduce guests to the Kazakh culture. That is why the first day was spent in Khan Shatyr, Pyramid and Palace of Independence where guests got a chance to visit the Ethnical Kazakh Village where the Kazakh traditions (including a traditional wedding, dances, jewellery, handcraft, etc) were shown.

March, 12 – beginning of the official programme

My main task on that day was to provide simultaneous translation during the presentations aimed at proving that Astana has enough capacity to host the EXPO 2017 – financial, economic, political.

March, 13 started with the meeting with the Minister of the Interior Mr.Kassymov at which the political situation in the country was discussed.

It was then followed by the excursion to the newly built TV and radio center where we were shown the future news rooms, studios and other facilities of the center.

After a number of presentations delegates left for a working lunch with the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Foreign Affairs where I was translating as well.


March, 14
was marked by the meeting with the President Mr. Nazarbayev who emphasized the political will to support the idea of EXPO 2017 being held in Astana. The delegates then visited Eurasian National university where a meeting with the Minister of Education and Science, students and academicians was planned. I graduated from this university 2 years ago and it was a very interesting feeling to come back to my alma mater not as a student but as a simultaneous translator. I continued my translation at yet another working lunch, this time with the Mayor of Astana.
March, 15 was another day of presentations on the future site of the EXPO and the future use of EXPO facilities since it is very important to invest in something that will last longer than just 3 months of the EXPO.
When I wasn’t in a booth doing simultaneous translation, I was down in the conference room to help with the consecutive English-Russian translation.

On the March, 16 together with the delegates I left for Almaty where a tour of the city and its surroundings by helicopter was organized. The official visit of the Enquiry mission finished with the internal meeting the results of which will hopefully have a positive impact on the final decision.

Translator in Almaty at the Mining Exhibition

September 28th, 2011

September, 19th-23rd I spent in Almaty providing interpreting services at the 17th Central Asia international mining exhibition. I worked with the CEO and a sales manager of the Celik Granul, a Turkish company that produces low carbon steel shots for sandblasting and shotblasting.

I flew from Astana Monday early morning and the first two days we spent preparing for the exhibition, we set up our stand, located the catalogues, got to know other exhibitors. On Wednesday the exhibition started and a constant flow of visitors started immediately.

Visitors were from different walks of life: company owners, PR specialists, students, journalists, distributors, etc. Every time somebody came up to our stand I explained why low carbon steel shots are better then high carbon steel shots, why shots can be used for surface cleaning not just ones but several times, what is the better shotblasting equipment for that, and so on. We had a very colorful stand and we for sure attracted many people.

After the full working day at the exhibition center we were invited to a nice reception where all the exhibition participants could meet and connect in an informal way.

One day of exhibition passed after another and here I am at the airport again. Translation in Almaty is finished but next day more work is ahead in Astana!

English Interpreter for INNO Group Seminar

April 10th, 2011

Recently I came back to Astana from a business trip to the regions of Kazakhstan. National Innovation Fund of the Republic of Kazakhstan organized a seminar that was held in all the cities of the country to which I was invited as an English interpreter for the experts from INNO Group (Sweden).

English Interpreter  for seminar

First seminar was held in Karaganda and was followed by a number of seminars in Aktau, Atyrau, Kostanay,Uralsk, etc. In 8 days we covered 7 cities which meant one flight a day.

The seminar touched upon issues like transfer of technology, licencing, patenting, intellectual property and the like. Target group of the seminar was university professors and scientists who come up with inventions and should know how to introduce these inventions to the market and how to protect their intellectual property.

INNO Group is a German company with offices all over Europe that has a 20+ years of experience in the field of transfer of technology. The whole concept is quite new in Kazakhstan, that is why it was very important to listen to the experts and to participate in the seminar. INNO Group experts, Mr. Biorkman and Mr. Grankvist, in the course of the seminar among other things aslso had a couple of case studies which made the seminar very interactive and dynamic.

We were warmly welcomed in every city and every university, we visited a laboratory in Kostanay where we we shown the latest inventions of the university scientists. All in all it was a very nice and interesting trip, I have definitely learned a lot about innovations and transfer of technology, business incubators and copy rights, business angels and validity of patents. There is another series of seminars planned, so I hope that my list of newly acquired  knowledge will be even longer!

Russian Interpreter in Astana for ALSTOM

January 11th, 2011

Since April I’ve been involved in two projects of ALSTOM TRANSPORT in Kazakhstan. These are two strategic projects: delivery of electric locomotive and construction of tramway line in Astana. I work mostly as a technical Russian-English translator, sometimes also as a Russian-French translator since ALSTOM is a French company.

The projects are very big so we had several working groups: technical, legal, financial. I mostly work in a technical group where we talk about electric locomotive manufacturing process, about its parameters and technical description. At the beginning I didn’t know much about „locos“ – as we call electric locomotives, I saw no difference between BoBo, double BoBo and CoCo locomotives, but step by step I was getting more and more into it. Now I know why it is that important for a locomotive to have an unbalanced lateral acceleration up to 1.0 m/s2 and what impact it has on the rails and on the locomotive bogie.

But it’s not always the technicians that I translate. Sometimes we have a hectic schedule and after interpreting at the technical meeting, I have to run to a finanical one, where specialists discuss cash flow, overheads and structure of Joint Venture. I also became familiar with the notions such as P&L, CAPEX and OPEX. I might also translate at a legal meetings where I deal with words as precedent conditions, preemptive right and fundamental breach.

Everybody involved in the project worked quite hard, often without days-off and working long hours but it was worth it – on the 27th of October, 2010 in Paris there was signed the Contract by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the President of France. Now the project is officially launched which means we have more work ahead!

Working as a translator in Moscow and other Russian cities

June 25th, 2010

In May I worked as English-Russian translator in Moscow and other Russian cities together with Mr.Vinther, the regional manager of Unibolt company. We already worked with Mr.Vinther in March when he attended the Agritek exhibition in Astana, so I was familiar with the subject matter, that was the reason why he asked me to fly with him to Moscow.

Translator in Moscow

It was a very hectic trip, our schedule was extremely tight: we had 11 flights within 10 days. Mr. Vinther flew from Danemark and I flew from Astana, we met in Moscow and had several meetings there. We visited a couple of companies involved in agriculture sector and we took our first steps in establishing a business partnership. Then we flew to another Russian city called Samara, where we had a similar meeting. After that we also flew to Rostov-on-Don and Volgograd. Unfortunately there are no direct flights between these cities, so every time we had to come back to Moscow. And there was no time for sightseeing!

Since Unibolt, the company that Mr. Vinther presented, is a manufacture of bolts, our meetings were quite technical, so it was handy to know different types of the bolts, such as wheel bolts, clevis pins, etc. At the same time our meetings touched upon some financial issues, because we met with Directors or Sales Managers as well.

I must say that Russia is very different from Kazakhstan, eventhough these countries have a lot in common. Moscow itself is a crazy city, ecpecially in terms of security. Each time we had to fly to/from Moscow we had to pass security control which would have been fine if we hadn’t have to take our shoes off all the time :) Also they asked us several times about visa, migration card, registration and all these issues.

When our trip to Russia was over, we flew to Astana only to spend here less than 24 hours. Our next destination was Karaganda, it was the first time that I worked as a translator in Karaganda. We had several meeting in the city, then flew to Almaty and worked for a couple of days there.

This was quite a trip, but the good thing is Mr. Vinther is coming back to Kazakhstan in July which means the trip was rather successful!

Figures speaking:

  • 10 days
  • 11 flights
  • 7 cities
  • 2 countries
  • 18 meetings
  • 9 airports
  • 25 hours on the planes
  • 0 crashes :)

Translation in Almaty for Assa Abloy Company

May 17th, 2010

From 11th to 15th May I worked as English-Russian translator in Almaty with Marwan Yaghi, Business Development Manager of Assa Abloy Company.

Translation in Almaty for Assa Abloy Company

Translation in Almaty for Assa Abloy Company

First together with Mr. Yaghi we had searched for companies interested in dealing with Assa Abloy, then we contacted these companies and arranged meetings both in Almaty and Astana, then I flew from Astana to Almaty in order to provide interpreting services at the meetings and Mr.Yaghi flew from Dubai to Almaty.

Prior to the meetings Mr. Yaghi gave me some information about the company, so I learned that it is a Swedish company that has about 60 brands and which is operating in more than 50 countries. This company specializes in door solutions, so I have dealt with words like door closers, rim locks, exit panic device, etc.

Our meetings were held in the specialized shops, so I actually saw all the locks that we were talking about. We then went to a market and gathered some very useful information from shop assistants. Next day we had a meeting with a construction company where we discussed several forms of potential partnership.

Our trip to Almaty seemed to be quite successful and hopefully there will be some more in the coming next months. This was the first time I worked in Almaty as a translator and I really liked the city which is rather different from Astana in terms of climate, people and nature.

As for the door locks, they are not just locks to me anymore – now these are rim locks and pad locks :) Being a translator really changes one’s life!