Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies

MAIT sudents interpret for Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum and the Fairtrade Foundation

Mon May 09 10:13:00 BST 2016

PeaceJam, an NGO with UN status, has a main aim of putting young adults into direct contact with Nobel Peace Laureates. The organisation has recently posted youtube footage of 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú at the University of Winchester, where students from our own MA Interpreting and Translation worked as her interpreters at the weekend conference of 12-13 March.

Stefan Brett, Zoe King and Donné Stam can be seen ably putting to use the skills they have developed on their course. Menchú, a member of the K'iche' indigenous community, speaks the Spanish of Guatemala as her second language, and has a spoken discourse style that requires the interpreter to be ready to deal with passages of occasionally exotic aspects of her Mayan identity and belief system. Accuracy, insight and the ability to render unfamiliar abstract concepts are key skills for the interpreter.

This was a wonderful opportunity for these three new professionals as they begin their careers, and it was an honour for PoLIS to be invited to supply the interpreters for the event.

A few days earlier, on 9 March, MAIT students had also served as interpreters at the University of Bath's The Edge, and at Bath Spa University Students' Union at events to mark Fairtrade Fortnight. Nicaraguan coffee farmer Ana María González discussed her work as an organising member of a small cooperative, and the huge difference that working with Faritrade has made to the farming and family life of her whole community. The interpreters, Sarah Bigault, Dee Teale and Stefan Brett, provided liaison, consecutive and chuchotage interpreting throughout the day, and were praised by the Pro Vice Chancellor Learning & Teaching - a fluent Spanish speaker himself - as 'excellent'.

Following Ana María's presentation, Michael Gidney, the chief executive of the Fairtrade Foundation, gave a talk on key aspects of international agriculture and trade that Fairtrade aims to improve, and a new film by Dr Roy Maconachie, of the University's Centre for Development Studies, 'Gender and Fair Trade', was screened. The film highlights the impacts of Fairtrade for female cocoa-producers in Ghana, and illustrates the significant challenges that remain in promoting greater gender equality in agriculture.

On Friday 11 March, and for the second year running, The University received a Fairtrade Gold award in the category of Best Fairtrade University or College in the South West 2016.