Susanna Gavalyan 

A participant of the British Council Inspire (Translation and Interpreting pilot group at University of World Economy and Diplomacy) project and a graduate of London Metropolitan University. International Affairs and Localization Specialist at FE Rieter Uzbekistan LLC. 

I first heard about the Inspire project when I was studying for a BA degree at the International Economic Relations Department at the University of World Economy and Diplomacy (UWED). I found myself fascinated by the idea that if I passed the selection process, I would have a chance to study English and Translation/Interpreting for five additional hours a week. Not only did participation in this project supported by the British Council significantly improve my English language skills, but it also opened up a previously unknown to me, yet engaging field of translation and interpreting.

Apart from formal studies, being part of Inspire project meant volunteering as an interpreter at various international events held at UWED and across Uzbekistan. For example, I acted as a volunteer interpreter during the international conference on “Quality Assurance and Enhancement of Higher Education in Uzbekistan (2011), at the TEMPUS Workshop on “Higher Education Reforms in Uzbekistan” (2012), facilitated communication between foreign visitors and local participants at the international symposium on “National Model of Mother and Health Protection in Uzbekistan: Healthy Mother – Healthy child” (2011). After winning a translators’ competition organised by the British Council, I was granted a trip to London Metropolitan University, where I participated in the Summer Translation School “Translator and Cultural Knowledge”. It was through this programme that I realised the immense role and importance of cultural awareness and cross-cultural communication skills for interpretation and translation.

Meeting such dedicated experts in the fields of interpreting and translation like Danielle D’Hayer and Zoubida Mostefai-Hampshire from London Metropolitan University sparked a further interest in the area. Upon completion of this summer school, I realised that one should not follow previous assumptions regarding her career choice but follow one’s inclinations. As a result, I decided to change my major from Economics to Translation and applied for an MA in Translation Studies programme at the University of Massachusetts Amherst through the Fulbright Foreign Student Program Scholarship.

Cooperation with British Council and my formal education in the field helped me to discover various levels at which translation, often regarded as a marginal practice, does actually have a tremendous power and effect on education, construction of national identity, development of a nation, and civic engagement to name a few. Moreover, this experience made me a more aware translator, who analyses and evaluates the existing options in translation not only in terms of their linguistic suitability, but also in terms of cultural appropriateness and possible socio-political effect.   

Now, except from my work at Rieter Uzbekistan, which involves some translation and interpreting, I am involved in an international project, where together with my friend I translate articles for an online Ukrainian magazine about healthy lifestyle and running. Apart from this, I am translating a collection of short stories by an American novelist Tim O’Brien into Russian, which I hope will be published one day.