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Translation for the Development Bank of Kazakhstan

March 31st, 2012

On March, 30th -31st I worked in the Development Bank of Kazakhstan where OXFORD training conducted a seminar on loan restructuring. When I first heard of the seminar, I said to myself: “OK, here is an interesting challenge!”   And it was, indeed, because the topic can’t be called a very common one and it’s definitely not something they teach you how to translate at the university, so I had to figure that out myself.

The good thing about the seminar is that I was informed well in advance which gave me enough time to familiarize myself with the subject.  I was reading up on loans, debt crisis, world financial crisis, remediation management, austerity – it was quite a journey in which one article led to another one, one term to another one, one concept to another one.  I should also mention that I had a presentation for the seminar beforehand and I felt more or less fine when I entered the bank on the first day of the seminar.

The trainer for the seminar turned out to be a nice Hungarian lady who had more than 20 years of experience in working in the banking sphere.  Before the seminar I had a chance to ask her a couple questions to clarify some of the concepts that were still unknown to me and at 9.00 am we started our seminar.  First 15 minutes went very well – the trainer stack to the presentation which started off with some theoretical background on loans, portfolio and corporate client.  But already 15 minutes later participants started saying that they know the theory and they are more interested in its practical application.  That means the trainer had to change her strategy and improvise. This means I had to improvise, too. Participants  were happy they were no longer in “a school mode” with a lecturer but with someone who can actually answer many questions they have about loan restructuring and bad loan management.  Our conversation got immediately livelier and more interactive. I was glad, too, because for an interpreter it is also much easier to work with the audience that is interested and active rather than with people that hardly stop themselves from falling asleep.

Mrs. Esther (our trainer) talked about case studies that she was personally involved in, we learned that something a banker has to run a sausage factory and that a bank might have 65 bouchers  among its personnel – all this being a part of crisis management.  We also learned that it’s not always all about business, it’s about personal relationships, too, when it comes to bad loan management. We have learned other tricks, too. I always use the pronoun “we” because at any seminar I learn as much as other participants do and this is something I simply love in my job that is a source of my constant development.  Without the seminar I would have never looked up  “collateral”, “outstanding account”, “coverage”, and others.

Looking forward to more seminars and more things to learn!

Translation of “The Artist” in Astana

February 7th, 2012

Snejana Skakovskaya translator in astanaLast week the award-winning movie “The Artist” premiered in Astana and I was asked to translate it. Those who are familiar with the movie might raise their eyebrows – what’s there to translate in a silent movie? Well, there are subtitles here and there and it was my job to translate them while the movie was being shown to the audience. Ambassadors and other representatives of the international community of Astana showed up in the cinema and that is why the translation from Russian to English was needed.

As easy as it may sound, it was not easy at all: first of all, subtitles were shown for a fraction of a second so I had to read and translate with the speed of light. Secondly, it is a movie, not a contract where the translation is very dry and straight to the point. If an actor shouts (silently) “Oh my God”, I can’t simply render his words into another language; I need to act, too. At least a bit.

It was a quite unusual yet very interesting experience for me; I had to use all my translation skills: always be ready in case a new line of subtitles appears on the screen, read fast, think even faster and translate in a way that is stylistically relevant to the scene in question. Quite a challenge but a fun one!

Medical translation in Astana

October 9th, 2011

On August, 24th -26th there was another Medical Forum with participation of Koreans doctors for whom I translated from English to Russian. For 3 days patients with different diseases came to see the doctors and to get acupuncture treatment which is the area of expertise of these doctors.

Altogether we treated over 200 patients, among these patients there were people with spine diseases, neck pain, high blood pressure, obesity problems, etc.

My task was to facilitate communication between doctors and patients, to translate patients’ complaints and doctors’ prescriptions. I’ve dealt with a great number of medical terms, such as duodenum, spinal rupture, protrusion, etc. I’ve learned a lot about acupuncture, too. Also doctors gave some advice to patients regarding the best position for writing or working with computer, holding one’s posture. It’s very important not to have too much pressure one one’s spine otherwise it can lead to many problems. All this information seems to be well –known but in reality not many people practice it.

Patients were treated for 3 days in a row and the results were obvious. Those who had acute pain and couldn’t walk straight on the first day, were able to walk and bend easily on the third day. People who were waiting in the hall started making stories about acupuncture being a magical treatment. Of course it’s not about magic, it’s all about releasing the right muscles in the right spot. It’s true, though, that it helped many people so everybody started wondering when the acupuncture medicine office would be open in Astana. So far there is no exact information on that.

This assignment gave me a chance to be in a doctor’s shoes, running from one patient to another, treating over 150 people a day, not having a 10 seconds break. Being a doctor is very honorable but I guess I don’t regret being an interpreter J

Translation in Astana for OSCE Adviser

October 27th, 2009

I did translation for OSCE Migration/Freedom of Movement Adviser who came in Astana in September. He is a representative of the Office for democratic institutions and human right in Warsaw. We worked closely with the Ministry of Justice of Republic of Kazakhstan and JSC “National Informational Technologies”.

On the first day of his stay in Astana we met at the hotel where we discussed topics that would be covered the next day. These topics mostly  touched the computarization of the data base system. Social  issues such as marriage, divorce, child adoption etc. were discussed with the head of the passport service.

Unfortunately I can’t go into more details regarding this translation because as a translator I should stick to one of the translator’s rules: “Interpreter should not reveal any information that he or she obtained during translation”. But what I  can definitely “reveal” and I guess it wasn’t  a state secret at all is that the adviser from OSCE told me that he really liked Kazakhstan and it was his 4th and certainly not last visit to Kazakhstan.

He didn’t have enough time to do any sightseeing, but on our way to the Ministry I explained a little bit the history of Astana, I showed the major sightseeings in Astana such as Baiterek, the Residence of the President, the building of Ministries, the Pyramide and so on. So on can say that a translator should be a good tour guide even if he or she is not doing the translation of an excursion :)

Translation at the Congress of World Religions- another task for me

October 5th, 2009

Translation at the Congress of world religions- another task for me

I worked at the Congress of World Religions that was held in Astana on the 1-2 of July as a Liaison Officer for the World Church Council General Secretary Samuel Kobia.

WCC-Chef Samuel Kobia & Snezhana Skakovskaya

WCC-Chef Samuel Kobia & Snezhana Skakovskaya

It was a very interesting task since the Congress of world religions is unique in its nature. Religious leaders from more than 77 countries came to Astana in order to have an open dialogue between the religions.

Buddha Monk & me

Guest from Korea & me

The Congress was well organized, our guests were placed in hotels of Astana and they were daily informed by their liaison officers about their programme.  Usually we came at the hotel and accompanied our guests in the buses and led them to the Palace of Peace and Accord or to the Palace of Independance where all the meetings were held. We were accompaning them every minute and  were solving all the problems they could have: whether someone has lost his badge or hasn’t gotten his invitation to the reception, the liaison officers were called to help. We also did translation for our guests since  many  of them were foreigners and didn’t speak  Kazakh or Russian. Mostly translation was needed for the purpose  of communication between kazakhstani part and our guests or sometimes for the communication among guests themselves. Arrangement of accommodation and transportation was also our duty, as well as arranging siteseeing in Astana.

The Congress was a great experience since this was not only the meeting of different people, but also of different cultures and religions. I  am very glad that translation in Astana gives me the opportunities to meet very interesting people!

Translation for the Secretary General of OSCE

July 8th, 2009

Translation for the OSCE Secretary General seems to be impossible in Astana, but this is not true. Secretary General of OSCE, M. Marc Perrin de Brichambaut came to Astana for the Congress of leaders of world and traditional religions.
The state broadcasting station „Kazakhstan“ had the privilege of interviewing the Secretary General. I was asked to translate for M. De Brichambaut.  There was  the agreement with the press center that the interview would be done in English, but since M. De Brichambaut is French, I translated from Russian to French and vice versa.
The atmosphere was very friendly. We swichted  to English for the official part of the interview. I translated from Russian to English the questions of the journalist and the responses of M. De Brichambaut. He  made remarks about the Congress that was being  held in Astana, he also shared his thoughts about the forthcoming chairmanship of Kazakhstan in OSCE.  At the end of interview the Secretary General wished all citizens of Astana a happy 11th anniversary of the city.
The interview was quite short but very intensive. After the official part I switched back to French and we talked for a while. M. De Brichambaut assured us that this was not his last trip to Kazakhstan and that he would be coming back again and again. He was willing to have an open dialogue between OSCE and Kazakhstan. Hopefully, we will be following the news related to the presidency of  Kazakhstan in OSCE.
Chairmanship in OSCE in 2010 has a great value to Kazakhstan, so does the translation for the Secretary General to me.