Speaker invites students to join translation services

Nicole Weible

Faculty and students listened and laughed at Everette Jordan’s stories and jokes about the misunderstandings among translators.

Jordan is the director of the National Virtual Translation Center in Washington, D.C. He spoke in Satterfield to translation majors and faculty from the Institute for Applied Linguistics.

The National Virtual Translation Center is planning on including students in its translation services by sending Kent State material to be translated by students from the department of modern and classical language studies. NVTC also is looking to recruit graduate translation majors from universities across the nation.

Jordan has studied Russian, Hebrew, Arabic, German, Spanish and French. He promotes awareness for the need for multilingual capabilities and works with various federal government offices and organizations.

The speaker’s multi-lingual talents started in an attempt to learn Chinese for the FBI – but plans changed.

“My friend and I wanted to learn Chinese in high school, but my Chinese teacher died so I decided to take Spanish and French,” Jordan said.

NVTC is a small government agency created three years ago to work with government intelligence. The organization strives to provide accurate and timely translations for all aspects of government intelligence.

There is a national need for translators in the agency, Jordan said. The biggest need right now is for Arabic translators.

“The average age of our employees in the agency is 52,” Jordan said. “We need people with translation skills for tomorrow. We are looking to build a pool of translators. We’re getting older, and we need people to step into these jobs.”

Jordan outlined several challenges that translators face.

It is easy to acquire the basis of a language, but it is hard to become proficient. Translators must overcome communication and cultural barriers. Verbal and nonverbal gestures are important to understand when dealing with people from other cultures. Jordan said translators must take two languages and cultures and turn them into one idea or principle.

“We can create a bridge between languages. We have to be able to sense a lie or a joke,” he said. “We need to read between the lines when dealing with human relationships.”

The agency has created opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. In the future, undergraduate students will receive material to be translated for the government. They will have a chance to gain knowledge and experience in their job field.

While undergraduates are able to apply for internships, graduate students can apply for a job.

Jordan explained the agency does in-depth background checks. Employees also take proficiency tests in all foreign languages they claim to know. They also must take lie-detector tests and give their fingerprints. All linguists providing services to the NVTC must be U.S. citizens, and all services must be performed in the United States.

The levels of translators rate from one to five. Level five is the highest language proficiency a translator can achieve. The agency hires level three translators. Jordan said they train their employees and with enough experience, translators can achieve level four and/or five proficiency.

The best part about working for NVTC is almost all interns and employees are able to work from their homes, Jordan said.

“We’re not going to drag you kicking and screaming to Washington, D.C.,” he said. “In fact, we call it the ‘fuzzy slippers.’ You can sit at home in your fuzzy slippers and bath robe and do translation work.”

Joanna Adolph, senior Spanish translation and public relations major, attended Jordan’s speech. Her translation instructor urged her class to come to Jordan’s speech. Adolph said she wants to apply at NVTC.

“I am looking for ways to break into the translation field,” Adolph said.

Jason Steinberg, German translation graduate, also attended the speech in hopes of finding an opportunity.

“I’m looking for a job right now,” he said. “I am here to see what this is all about. I will take anything I can find.”

Jordan ended his speech by answering students’ questions. They were eager to learn how Jordan became proficient in six languages and what NVTC will be able to offer in the future.

Contact international affairs reporter Nicole Weible at [email protected].