Meet Rawan Gharib, who went from frequent visitor to volunteer translator

Rawan Gharib at Manasterly Palace, Cairo. Photo used with permission.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you joined GV.

I am a polyglot translator and editor with Hispanic Language and Literature studies background. I’ve always had the passion for languages, but I never considered translation as a professional career until I stumbled upon GV. The green logo was actually the first thing that caught my eyes, and I loved it! At that time I was desperately looking for a platform where I could read more humanized stories, through which I could know much more about this world without losing objectivity or getting confused following labels and identifications. GV was distinguishably able to create this balance scale for me. So I became a frequent visitor and then, on 2016, I decided to volunteer as a translator.

Did your experience of translating, authoring and editing change your vision of the world during this time?

Absolutely, especially authoring. Translating and editing were more beneficial on the linguistic and professional levels. Meanwhile, authoring opened my eyes to new ways of seeing the world without any projections. It was a great exercise on sticking to facts and reality. I was completely aware of its fundamental value but found a hard time applying because of my tendency towards a literary writing style.

Does your work with GV impact your day job and daily life? Could you elaborate somewhat on how you manage your own time for all these tasks, including your day job? Any tips?

Definitely. When it comes to language, the tiniest thing can impact everything. Imagine when it’s something to do with translation and editing, which are my main daily required tasks for my day job too I’m not following some strict schedule, but I dedicate the early hours to finish my GV tasks as warming up for my usual work day. And it's of vital importance for me to stay away from any devices for at least one day a week.

Do you blog? If so, what place does your blogging hold in your daily life?

No, though I do have a blog I post on now and then, usually short literary pieces and translations of my favorite poems and lyrics.

What gave you the idea of embracing other activities, such as translating, and how did this urge lead you to Global Voices?

It’s a little bit ironic. During my college years, professors kept telling me I should focus on being a translator for I had the required linguistic intuition. I never needed it as I wanted just to play with languages and have fun, regardless the outcome of that or what future career I could pursue. After college, I had so much free time, so I decided to volunteer somewhere where my skills are in good use. That’s when their voices came back to pop up in my mind, and I finally took their advice. I chose to do this for Global Voices because of its bridging spirit and cross cultures atmosphere. Those were the essential elements for anyone who preferred referring to herself as a world citizen like me.

Did you have any previous experiences translating? Was it very different from what you had done before?

Most of my college assignments were literary translations, so GV was definitely different, I needed some time in the beginning to adapt the right translation tone, and the Lingua Arabic editors were of great help.

Why do you think a man in the street should read GV in Arabic?

Because it would set him free, or reset him free to say. Free from prejudices, judgments, projections and any wrong perceptions that were built on any of the mentioned above. It would open his eyes to his truth as a human in a way that enables him to discover others keenly and gently, and in turn, to find himself.

What do you do in your spare time when you're not translating? What are your dreams?

I love everything, so I find it pretty easy to enjoy anything! But music documentaries, reading and surfing the internet are my obsessive hobbies.

You've been translating for GV for a year now, what would you say to those just starting out? What has been your most memorable experience during the time you have been collaborating with GV?

I would say just seize it. GV can provide you with everything we tend to miss on a rushing busy day; deep conversations and exchange, sharing, self-realization, self-growth, opening up, giving, receiving, good reads, good translations-to-be, and FACTS.

My most memorable experience was working on my first GV post with Laura Vidal, one of our outstanding Latin America editors, It was hard for me to adhere GV standards at first and we had so many drafts, discussion, and comments until we made it to the perfect pre-publishing draft. I remember looking at the very first draft, comparing it to the final one and thinking “WOW!”

How do you pick posts to translate, and, in fact, why did you choose to volunteer this way?

I used to prefer cultural categories and The Bridge posts, but now I try not to limit myself to those categories. I actually enjoy the challenge of being out of my comfort zone as a translator, and that, lately, gets me very open to trying translating everything.

I chose to volunteer this way because it held everything I was passionate about; languages, cultures, humanity, sharing, dialogue, world citizenship, advocacy, and solidarity.

Tell us about the city you live in and how would you describe it to a foreigner.

What I love most about Cairo is its timelessness. There are too many Cairos in Cairo, and they're all captivating. Pharaonic Cairo, Coptic Cairo, Islamic Cairo, 50s Cairo, Modern Cairo, post-revolutionary Cairo.

And regarding simple mundane time shifts, like any big city, we have day Cairo, the rushing jammed cruel city, and Night Cairo, the magical artistic culturally vivid city.

And the line between any two or more of these Cairos can sometimes be so fine that you get completely lost and completely cosmopolitan.

Anything else you'd like to add?

As I said before, I never felt comfortable with the idea of belonging to any entity of any kind. One of my haunting fears was losing individuality to collectivity, until I was introduced to GV. Here and only here, I could wear too many hats as a human and never fall labeled. I knew empathy, paired with accountability and strength, and not as the emotional snowball, blocking my willingness and eagerness to help and to stand in solidarity. That's something I will always be grateful and thankful.

So I'm whispering out to anyone who's dealing with similar fears and thoughts, not to despair and to open their eyes to the abundant beauty this world has got to offer, and we humans can create by profound communication and honest willingness to know one another.


Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.