TED Translators get innovative during COVID-19 quarantine // Part 1

Kurdish LC Daban Jaff (center) with Koya University students and TED Translators

Greetings, everybody! It’s been a while since our last post, so we’re excited to share this new story with you. But first and most importantly, we here at TED Translators hope you’ve all been safe and sound during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

As it’s spread around the world, forcing us to isolate and social distance indefinitely in order to slow and stop it, the latest novel coronavirus has altered our lives in countless profound and drastic ways. It hasn’t, however, diminished our individual and collective creative capacities. Case in point: TED Translators in many countries have come up with various inventive means to continue translating and collaborating in their respective language communities.

In this time of worldwide fear and uncertainty, then, we’re happy to highlight the ingenuity of several of these translators in a multi-part series. For this first installment we spoke with Kurdish TED Translator and Language Coordinator (LC) Daban Jaff, an instructor at Koya University in Iraq, who recently organized and has overseen a virtual translate-athon with his students.

“Once the university shut down,” Daban told us, “my students (many of whom are experienced TED Translators) and I began to brainstorm how we could keep busy during quarantine. We eventually devised a project wherein each student would translate at least four TED Talks into Kurdish in 10 days. So far,” Daban reported, “nearly 40 of my students have translated well over 100 talks, and 60 more translations are in the works.” For his part, Daban has been reviewing all of his students’ translations and providing them with both individualized and group feedback.

Koya University students and TED Translators in Iraq

Daban also told us that this virtual translate-athon has been a tremendous psychological boost for him and his students during these days of self-isolation. For student and TED Translator Aga Ismael, “Nothing but volunteering has been able to cheer me up. The opportunities for collaboration and mutual support—for human connection—that it offers are boundless and have been heartening for me. I hope this TED Translators project continues for as long as possible.”

What’s more, in an effort to expand the Kurdish translation community, Daban arranged for a few local newspapers to publish his students’ translations along with links to the translated talks. You can find articles here and here.

Daban and his students’ virtual translate-athon, by any measure, has been a remarkable success and an exemplary blueprint for how TED Translators, wherever they’re based, can keep their language communities motivated and active while waiting out COVID-19’s demise.

In the next two weeks, we’ll bring you more stories of such resilience from other translation communities, so do check back in with us for those.

And stay safe out there!

4 thoughts on “TED Translators get innovative during COVID-19 quarantine // Part 1

  1. I am wowed by what they have done. I am thrilled by their remarkable work because honestly there is not much in Kurdish on the web. This adds much to that and I wish these incredible guys the best. Keep the good work up, please!

  2. I’m amazed annd happy, it’s a very good and helps to spread awareness. I wish you continues success 🙂

Leave a Reply to Sardar Hussein (@sardaren) Cancel reply