European Language Day – Interview with Alexey Marenich

Alexey Marenich is one of Global Lingo’s expert linguists from Kharkiv, Ukraine, and he’s worked in the translation industry since 2008. Starting as a translator at a translation bureau and working for over two years as a military war zone translator, he now provides linguistic services for Global Lingo.

Alexey spends and divides his time devoted to what he loves. His family, sports, and providing supportive language services for international efforts across the globe. Being a cycling fanatic, he enjoys spending his free time keeping fit, and promoting an active way of life amongst his fellow employees. This became a priority, during the recent COVID pandemic, when there was a working from home shift.

In this interview, we ask him about his recent efforts into supporting Ukraine, with his translation knowledge and expertise. Alexey has been focused and dedicated in offering support through localisation services in the areas of conflict. Overcoming the challenges being faced in Ukraine with his linguist expertise in his most recent projects, where he charitably offered his services for free.

Tell us in your own words why it is important to take on projects that support the international efforts with Ukraine? 

First, I really enjoy working with Global Lingo. I have been cooperating with the project management team for quite some time and have developed a great professional relationship. I have worked on many projects related to the war in Ukraine with Global Lingo. Of course, every project is important, but when it relates to something that is really close to you, you always treat it differently.

We can’t compare the work of a linguist with the work of a soldier on the front line, but everyone must support the country however they can. For me, jobs in localisation for humanitarian efforts is another contribution to the support of my country. Being a pacifist, I believe that the strongest weapon is the use of words, consequently every translation is sort of a battle.

Why was it important for you not to charge for the most recent project? 

This conflict touched everyone in Ukraine. I had to leave my native city because from the first minutes of the war, missiles started bombarding the region where my home is. Now I’m located in Lviv and have no home to return to. I would hope that the majority of those who can afford to help, would behave in a similar way.  

I think, we, as a nation, support our country quite well. But I must tip my hat to external organisations or people outside of Ukraine that do the same. I’m endlessly grateful to them and will always support them in any way I can.

What are the particular challenges being faced in Ukraine that you’ve been able to support with your translation? 

As I mentioned previously, many people are affected by this war, and some have had to leave the country entirely. One of the main challenges such people face is not knowing whom to approach for simple support and help. They may not understand the native language of the country they have moved to. It is quite often hard to ask for some help, even without multilingual barriers.

During my evacuation from the East to the West of the country, it was quite difficult to ask strangers for help. In my case however, they were Ukrainian, and understood the situation perfectly well. But when you are in a different country it is important to be guided, so that you are able to understand what you can and can’t do, and where you can and can’t go. Or more simply put, having a basic understanding of your own rights.

How do you think translation services impact areas of conflict? 

In my opinion, translation plays two key roles. One of them, is aiding Ukrainian refugees as I mentioned above. This could be support in finding basic needs, find a place to live, or even simply buying a SIM card to communicate with family and friends. Now, with the new school year approaching, many people need support in enrolling their children to a certain school or nursery. This could involve which institutions they can consider, and ensuring their child is supported with their learning.

The second is in providing regular updates about the situation in Ukraine to the rest of the world. Some big corporations already do this, but others tend to show events in a certain light, not always fully reflecting the experienced realities. For me, it is important for more sources of information to be broadcasted, encouraging more transparency, and avoiding any misreading between the lines. Information is one of the most important tools in moments of conflict.

In your view, how else can language services support people in need? 

Well, the best support would be the one that would encourage this war to stop. But being realistic, I think many people will face problems with organizing their lives for the foreseeable future. Which includes the start of the new academic year and getting through the winter. I think it’s critical for educational material to be localised or at least partially adapted for Ukrainian children across Europe. This might include subtitling existing video lessons for remote mode education, and adaptation of course content so that it is easily digested by children who have already gone through enough hardship. 

And of course, I think it’s important for linguists of all areas of expertise to continue sharing impartial updates of the situation in Ukraine.

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