Ecce Homo

A Short Biography of a Rich Life

I work full time as an Arabic<>English translator, specialising in education, business, health and legal information for Arabic-speaking communities in Australia and other English-speaking countries. I also specialise in media monitoring for Australian private and government bodies and translate non-fiction books, in addition to website localisation. I have an ongoing interest in encouraging business, industry and government to understand cultural issues and a commitment to encourage cross-disciplinary and multicultural approach to business, as well as to provide mentoring to Australians intending to do business with the Middle East. I am the manager of one of Australia’s leading translation service providers and cross cultural training specializing in the Middle East.

I was born in Poland to a mixed parentage, and from my youngest years there was always more than one language spoken at home. My archaeologist father raised me in and around archaeological digs in North Africa and the Middle East, I can speak three languages fluently and stutter in three others. So it was kind of fated that I end up working with and in languages. I went on to do a B.Ed. and taught ESL for 15 years. At 24, I got my first major translating contract with a Russian international publisher, working on texts in philosophy, history and economics. I was in heaven.

After a lifetime of travel I settled in Australia in 1995. Prior to coming to Australia I lived for over twenty years in the Middle East and North Africa, teaching, publishing and translating. During those years I worked for a number of regional and international publishing houses, as well as the UNICEF. I learned a lot during these 20 odd years - about humanity and inhumanity, war, femine and draught, intolerance and corruption - but also about love, generosity, linguistic diversity, musical heritage, architecture, caligraphy, and tons more. All these things come together to make me who I am today.

Extensive travel around the world, a keen creative intellect, and a multicultural background, have all contributed to honing my interpersonal skills towards professional practice. But I continue to do a lot of formal and practical learning, professional development, and private study. I am the current National Professional Development Coordinator for the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT), as well as the PD Coordinator for the Queensland branch.

My work with AUSIT is the second biggest chunk of where my time disappears - I travel interstate to present workshops on translating, business management and information tools to our members. I am also responsible for a team that sets the AUSIT policies on professional development and mentoring. I myself mentor quite a few young translators. In addition, I chaired the team that organised our 2008 National Conference, I am active on the Industry Excellence Awards committee, and part of the committee that is currently working on restructuring our website. Outside of AUSIT, I provide cultural awareness workshops for businesses that deal with Arabic-speaking countries, and for local NGOs and community organisations that work with migrants and refugees from Arabic speaking countries.

Next comes writing - I blog extensively, both in English and in Arabic. I write for industry publications, and peer-reviewed journals. And for the past two years, I have been working on compiling a book on utilizing information technology for translators - my pet theme, since my post-graduate degree is in knowledge management. Most of my writing will be incorporated into this website.

When I get a spare moment - and I do - I grab my camera and watch the natural world through my zooms. Queensland in particular, but all of Australia in general, is a magic place for a photo-fanatic. Some of my better work is on Flickr. I also photograph festivals and multicultural events, and have for many years been the official photographer for the Zilmere Multicultural Festival, held every May in Brisbane.

I read a lot, and I go book hunting to every single second-hand book sale that is within 4 hrs drive from my house. The result of this is a rich collection of titles in religions, mythology, psychology, social sciences, natural sciences, art, history, biography, philosophy and linguistics. Rich as in 6,000 copies plus, not as it will ever translate into real money. It is a sad sign of the times that I am at a loss as to who to leave this trove of knowledge to in my will.