Meet the TED Translators attending TED’s first-ever Countdown Summit

This week, TED’s inaugural Countdown Summit is taking place in Edinburgh, Scotland. Billed as a gathering that “will unveil … imaginative and scalable solutions that we’ll need to turn the tide on climate change and create a healthier and more equitable world for all”, the four-day summit features a distinctly diverse roster of speakers, from scientists to Indigenous leaders to policy makers to artists. A dynamic group of TED Translators is in attendance, both on-the-ground and virtually, participating in Countdown’s panoply of talks, performances and breakout sessions. Read on to learn more about these fine folks.

Nawfal Aljabali* (Yemen + U.S.)

Law student

Nawfal was born in Yemen, and he currently lives in Dearborn City, Michigan. He recently obtained his master’s degree in law. “Because I’m in the process of establishing an organization in my home country that will work toward reducing climate change,” Nawfal says, “I’m looking forward to the Countdown Summit as an excellent opportunity to advance my climate-change knowledge while connecting with likeminded individuals from around the world.”

Gözde Alpçetin* (Turkey)

Student, English + literature

Now an undergraduate student majoring in English and literature at Turkey’s Ege University, Gözde joined TED Translators in 2019. Her goal then was simple: to hone her translation skills. But it wasn’t long before she realized that the program also enabled her to freely share stimulating ideas with Turkish speakers far and wide. “What I’ve come to love about TED Translators is that I can contribute to a global community built on spreading knowledge regardless of borders, beliefs, customs, etc.,” Gözde tells us. At Countdown, she aims to both expand her understanding of the world’s climate crisis and learn how to take effective action to help stanch it.

Julia Galles (U.K.)

Freelance translator

Julia is a U.K.-based freelance translator. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and is pursuing a master’s in translation. After watching several TED Talks she “found fascinating,” Julia joined TED Translators in 2018 “to disseminate ingenious and important ideas to Spanish speakers, including those with impaired hearing.” For her, the Countdown Summit is a unique chance to meet and unite with fellow TED Translators under the banner of collectively mitigating climate change and healing the planet.

Ellen Maloney (Scotland)

Student, philosophy + psychology

At present, Ellen is studying philosophy and psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She’s been a TED Translator for six years and counting, ever since she was introduced to the program at TEDWomen 2015 and drawn to its free exchange of ideas and information on a global scale. “One of the aspects of Countdown that I’m most excited about is collaborating with fellow translators and other attendees to find actionable ways to alleviate climate change,” Ellen says.

Lam Nguyen* (Vietnam + France)

Security engineer

Born in Vietnam, Lam currently resides in France as he completes his master’s degree in cybersecurity at university there. His work as an engineer entails ensuring systems security in technology-deployment environments. An avid watcher of TED Talks, he became a TED Translator in 2017 upon a friend’s recommendation and out of his desire to enlarge the Vietnamese-speaking audience for the novel ideas he’d encountered. Lam tells us that for him “the Countdown Summit is an invaluable occasion to learn about new initiatives to fight climate change directly from the experts who are developing them.”

Anna Pecot (U.S.)

International development consultant

Anna is a full-time international development consultant at the World Bank Group, and she also works on-call as a court interpreter, translator and language consultant. She began her career at the World Bank as a translator and interpreter, but over 20 years her duties there became progressively less language-oriented. In 2017, Anna joined TED Translators in order to exercise her Russian-language skills again—this time in an impactful volunteer environment. “To want to give back to society seems to me to be a natural inclination in all of us,” she explains. “And to do so in an intellectual capacity, by sharing the phenomenal ideas and vital knowledge TED Talks promulgate, is naturally empowering.” At Countdown, Anna plans to immerse herself in the wide array of leading climate advocates’ bold visions and strategies for rehabilitating the Earth. And, of course, she can’t wait to connect with the other TED Translators in attendance.

Guillaume Rouy* (France)

Engineering student

Guillaume has been a TED Translator since 2018, when his affinity for scientific talks met his desire to improve his English. His engineering studies “follow a generalist course,” he tells us, but “I’m keen on energy conversion and related areas of focus, especially if they can contribute to climate preservation.” It’s no surprise, then, that Guillaume is excited to see if the models and proposals put forth by Countdown’s speakers are realizable within the present-day bounds of science. He’s also thrilled that he’ll get the chance to engage with some of the most prominent actors in the fight against climate change.

Natalie Solbach (Germany)

Content specialist in corporate communications

In addition to corporate communications, Natalie has worked in journalism and holds a master’s degree in linguistics. She joined TED Translators in 2019 with the aim of “increasing access to TED Talks and the power they can give viewers to effect profound positive changes in the world.” As for the Countdown Summit, Natalie is most looking forward to Al Gore’s presentation (which will be delivered during a private pre-conference session, but should be available to watch shortly afterward).

Almudena Torrecilla (Spain)

IT systems analyst

Almudena’s passion for languages and translation, combined with her drive to help spread what she calls TED Talks’ “stimulating food for thought,” led her to join TED Translators in 2019. She very quickly discovered that the program offers her “a wonderful community of volunteers who are always ready to collaborate,” as well as a productive outlet for stress. “I’m extremely happy to be attending Countdown,” Almudena says. “To have the opportunity to delve into the world of TED in person, particularly in service of addressing climate change, is amazing. I can’t wait!”

*Attending the summit remotely.