Global Voices: Tell us a bit about yourself, how you joined Global Voices and about the stages of your involvement within the community.
Julia Krebs: I joined Global Voices back in October 2014 after my mom had told me about it. I started out as a translator and stuck to that for a couple of months before taking over smaller tasks in the German team after taking part in a Skype meeting. Those tasks grew and expanded (to Social Media management, for instance) and eventually, I became an editor for GV German which I still am today. I love to interact with our volunteers, my team members in our GV German team and all the other members of our big Global Voices family!
GV: Did your experience of translating, authoring and editing change your vision of the world during this time?
JK: It most certainly did. Translating, both for GV as well as during my university studies to become a translator, broadened and deepened my language skills which opened up new ways of communicating with people and experiencing culture through different languages. I love working and playing with language and I feel a great sense of accomplishment and gratitude to be able to help others understand and access information they wouldn’t be able to without a translation.
Editing gave me a better eye for detail and helped be sharpen my outside view on texts and taught me, time and time again, how important it is to also take steps back and look at things from a different angle. Not just in translating but in life in general.
Authoring myself made me appreciate and respect writers (no matter their profession) even more because it made me experience firsthand how challenging writing and all that comes with it can be.
GV: Does your work with GV impact your practice in your job?
JK: Time wise, it doesn’t. It has, however, enriched me by letting me look at tasks/people/situations with a broadened view and mindset. I am also benefitting from the skills I got during my time with Global Voices, such as social media work.
GV: Did the social media scene change in your region since, say, 2009?
JK: It went through various smaller and bigger changes. It changes with politics, trends and all sorts of things that happen in both our country and its sub-cultures as well as worldwide. It also feels like it got a lot more transient and fast-paced, with increased input on the social platforms.
GV: Could you also elaborate somewhat on how you manage your own time for all these tasks, including your day job? Any tips?
JK: I am managing, on the one side, by multi-tasking. I for instance check my emails and messages a couple of times throughout the day when I’m at work (only on breaks of course, haha) to see whether anything came up. If there’s something small, I try to resolve it on the spot. If I can’t, I make a note (mental or physical) to get back to it and later. On the other side, I make time for the tasks throughout the week. For instance, I’ll be posting a tweet on this topic tomorrow at noon or I’m going to take time on Saturday to translate this text I’ve selected. I want to make sure I don’t rush things and that I meet the needs of the tasks I’m working on.
As a tip, I can recommend the good old To Do lists. They keep me on top of things and give me a good overview over the tasks at hand. Particularly important tasks are marked bright pink. ;)
GV: What gave you the idea of embracing other tasks, such as translating? How did this urge lead you to Global Voices?
JK: I’ve always been someone who loves being involved and wants to help. So when there’s a task that can be done, I usually don’t hesitate to volunteer. What drives me as well, however, is my curiosity and my interest in broadening my horizon.
Upon getting to know Global Voices, I was increasingly fascinated by the broad network of people and stories and jobs behind it and the multiple tasks and opportunities there are. The more I learned, the more I wanted to be involved because it felt so exciting and important and I don’t regret.
GV: What were your previous experiences translating? Was it very different from what you had done before?
JK: I studied translation studies in university for six years and therefore had an already sound background of experience in translation when I started to volunteer for Global Voices.
It was different to what I had done before because it felt more personal a lot of the times, considering the kind of content I often translated (and still do). In university, we had many quite theory-based texts from law and finance and business for instance. With GV, the topics are different and are more emotional a lot of the times.
GV: And your experience in GV, do you think it is useful in other aspects?
JK: It is useful in many ways! I gained a lot of experience from my work with GV and broadened hard as well as soft skills. And I am still learning with every new person or task or text I encounter.
GV: Why do you think a man in the street should read GV in your language?
JK: Because it will give them insight into stories they most likely wouldn’t hear about otherwise. It’d make them see and read things that are often disregarded in the mainstream media or are ‘too small’ to be talked about. For me, it is not even particularly important they read GV in our language. But it of course makes me happy when they do and we give them the chance to do so by offering the translations.
GV: What do you do when you're not translating? What do you do in your spare time? What are your dreams?
JK: I love to travel and going to places – most often to meet my loved ones. Spending time with my girlfriend and my family and my friends is essential to me, no matter how far they live. I also enjoy going to the movies (so much that I do that a couple of times a month) and to bake (despite occasional mishaps).
GV: In all the time you have been collaborating with GV, what is your most memorable experience?
JK: The teamwork and team spirit is most memorable for me, I’d say. Seeing so many people working so passionately for a cause they believe in is inspiring me continuously. And, predicting the future here a bit, I’m sure the 2017 Summit in Sri Lanka will be an incredible memory as well.
GV: How is your site of GV doing? Describe your work at your Lingua group and tell us about your plans and future hopes for the site.
JK: We are doing well, I think! We have great volunteers and we editors are complimenting each other continuously in our work, I feel. There are challenges we face such as time management and occasional participation break-ins but we face these head-on. For the future, I hope to further strengthen our current and hopefully new volunteers and help them in their work. I want to tackle the task of making our social media appearance even more attractive and engaging. And I want to hopefully be able to contribute to the broader GV network with whatever tasks and challenges may arise.
GV: Multilingualism is also at the heart of your concerns. Why do you think is multilingualism important?
JK: Languages overcome boundaries. Not being able to understand each other is making life potentially very difficult and creates misunderstandings and can lead to rejection when, actually, there’s no foundation for it. Multilingualism tackles this issue by bring as many people as possible together on an eye-to-eye level and helps them connect and understand – which is most important these days.
GV: How do you pick posts to translate into your language, and, in fact, why did you choose to volunteer this way?
JK: I am very interested in LGBTQ+ matters, as it is close to heart and deeply personal for me, so I tend to choose these kind of texts intuitively. What’s most important, though, is that feeling of a text and topic pulling me in. It can be something that moves me or something that I relate to. I often go by my gut feeling of reading an article and thinking ‘yes, I want to translate this’.
I chose to volunteer as a translator because it is my chosen profession (I studied it in uni for six years) and I love doing it. I love working with language and if it’s for such a great cause like GV, it’s a win win situation!
GV: You've been translating for GV for several years, what would you say to those just starting out?
JK: Challenge yourself and don’t feel disheartened or discouraged by setbacks. Those happen to all of us and they are what makes us better and gives us a keener eye. Let yourself be pulled in by a text and let emotions wash over you if they come for a moment. It’ll help you connect to what you are translating. But then, I always make sure to take a step back and get the distance I need for my work.
GV: Tell us about the city you live in, and how would you describe your country to a foreigner.
JK: I live in Leipzig, Germany, and over the time I’ve been here (six years by now, time flies), I’ve fallen in love with this place over and over. Its vast green heart with many parks and lakes close by (despite being a city with over 500,000 inhabitants), its culture and rich history, its places, the life here in general. There is always something to do and see, whether it’d be live music, theatre plays, markets or having a drink in the countless great locations. It feels like home to me and it’s a place I love to return to. It’s cozy and beautiful in every season.
Germany is a country of many aspects and faces, I’d say. Looking at nature, there are mountains and beaches, the sea, the countryside as much as there are vibrant cities and an array of different cultures and sub-cultures. Even as a German myself, I am constantly experiencing new sides of my home country and no place is really like the other. Which is both great but also a challenge, at times.
GV: Finally, describe yourself and how you see the world.
JK: The describing myself questions are always the most challenging ones, haha.
I love diving into fictional worlds as much as I love experiencing our real world in all its colours and multitudes, big or small. While I am still working on many things regarding myself (but let’s be honest, we all are at all given times in one way or the other, right?), I also love to embrace the parts of me I’ve already figured out. I love helping others and I am someone who strongly believes it is incredibly important to be kind to one another and to respect others. I love dogs and chocolate mint ice cream and autumn walks in the forest and listening to a really great song and being moved by things/people/moments/stories over and over again. I am absolutely not good at watching horror movies and can be impatient at times and don’t like Brussels sprouts (not for a lack of trying). I love seeing people being passionate about a cause, about themselves, about something they love. I love making people smile with presents or surprises. I love watching clouds run over the sky while sitting at the window with a cup of tea, dreaming up all the travels I want to make and journeys I want to go on.
Concerning my view on the world, I know, as much as most of us, that we are facing harsh times these days and it can feel all too overwhelming. So many challenges lie ahead of us and so much needs to be done. It is easy to feel hopeless or resigned or infuriated – sometimes all at once. I catch myself being overcome by these emotions from time to time. But then, especially then, I make sure to look for acts of kindness and to seek out the good in world, because it is there in countless of ways and actions. And I look for what can be done, look for what can make the world a bit better and richer and try to do just that and, hopefully, succeed. But the world is too great and mesmerizing and wonderful to just stick our heads into the sand and resign, isn’t it?