Multilingual volunteers sought to translate for a good cause


What happens when you put a group of people proficient in more than one language into one space over an entire weekend? You get a lot of material translated for good causes, and participants having fun as they work to make messages more accessible. 

That’s what organizers of the campus’s second Translate-a-thon, to take place March 28-30, hope will happen again as they invite students, faculty, staff and community members to participate in the activity to benefit a number of organizations.

Volunteers complete translations for not-for-profits and other organizations that do not have budgets for such services but have audiences that need information in other languages.

more information

Inma Aleixos Borras participated in the event last year and said the discussions were lively and fun.

“We were laughing and teasing one another about the differences in our translations,” Borras said, noting her Spanish comes from an upbringing in Spain while the others on her team had learned a version that was influenced by neighboring Mexico.

“I was working with two young men and they were very enthusiastic. Some of the pieces we were looking at had been corrected using some kind of language software and they were bad, which made us laugh,” said the second-year Fulbright Scholar, who is earning a degree in archives and records management through the School of Information.

Organizations to be served by Translat-a-thon


• Taring Padi

• Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels

• Ann Arbor Visitors Bureau

• Student Advocacy Center

• Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County

• Safe House

• Steiner Health

• Department of Environmental Quality/ Michigan Department of Community Health

• Massachusetts Legal Aid

• Holocaust Memorial Center

• Open.Michigan – Disaster Relief and Family Medicine videos

• Art, Architecture & Engineering Library/ Digital Image database

• Bentley Historical Library

She said the team had friendly debates over whether to use her Spain-influenced translation or another version. 

“If there were three different countries, you could have three different forms of verbs,” she said.

The event took place for the first time last year as part of the Translation theme semester in LSA. For the inaugural event, participants translated for a handful of organizations. This year the list has grown to 14.

“People in the non-profit community have been very receptive because they have so many people they need to reach,” said Julie Evershed, director of the Language Resource Center.

“There also has been incredible interest to get involved on campus, both from people who study languages, those who want to perform community service and those who just really want to make connections with their culture.”

The event will be in the Language Resource Center, 1500 North Quad, beginning at 5 p.m. Friday through 10 p.m. Translation will continue 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, and will resume at 9 a.m. Sunday.

A showcase will take place at noon Sunday that will include a drawing for an iPad, a Kindle, three $50 gift certificates or tickets for the Michigan Theater. The event will conclude at 5 p.m. Each participant will receive a Translate-a-thon T-shirt.

The Translate-a-thon is organized by the Department of Comparative Literature and the Language Resource Center, with support from the Office of the Vice Provost for Global and Engaged Education and the MCubed program.


  1. Dora-Maria Sonderhoff
    on March 24, 2014 at 10:47 am

    what a great idea! Unfortunately, I’m unable to join the event this year, but I’d love to help out in the future! (native German speaker, near-native English; depending on level of difficulty of text I can also offer French and Italian.) Please feel free to contact me again if you need a translator.

Leave a comment

Commenting is closed for this article. Please read our comment guidelines for more information.