Written by Lauren Simmons // Photo by Morgan Pickering
Harding students and faculty celebrated the grand opening of the Center for Translation last week. Tom Norton served as guest speaker Sept. 28, and the University held a Blessing Ceremony Sept. 29 in the Holland-Waller Center.
The Center for Translation, adopting the slogan “Making Every Word Count,” is designed to provide language skills to translation students and equip them to use those skills for community service in Searcy.
Norton, who worked in interpretation and translation for 25 years, spoke on the opportunity students have to integrate faith into their translation work at Harding.
“The title of ‘Making Every Word Count’ – that’s really what we are all about here,” Norton said. “Nothing happens if the translator isn’t there.”
Michelle Holland, assistant professor of foreign languages and international studies and assistant director of the Center for Translation, said the students will grow their skills and give back to the community through the translation services.
“We want to offer our translations at very reduced rates or even pro bono to show our students that they can use their gifts to serve the community and serve God,” Holland said.
While there are other language service providers in town, such as El Puente and Link 501, the Center for Translation will also work to meet the needs of the community. Holland said the first project the students will have is working with schools in the area, and then they will move on to work with doctors and banks to provide translation services and needs.
Holland said the translation center now offers an online graduate certificate in translation for any senior language students wishing to improve their skills.
Senior Chloe Dalrymple said she worked closely with Holland on another project given to language students: translating a novel from English to Spanish. Dalrymple was joined by senior Sierra Tackwell in the Translation Club to work on translating the novel, which was written about a missionary doctor in Honduras. The women worked with Holland to translate the chapters page by page so the Hondurans included in the novel can read it in their own language.
Tackwell said she is excited to see how the Center for Translation will bless the Searcy community.
“It will be good to see how it impacts the rest of the community and bring Harding and Searcy together,” Tackwell said.
The translation center will use new programs such as the AI translation service DeepL and other organizational programs to help assist student translators who will be working hand-in-hand with technology. Dalrymple said she is excited by the possibilities computers and language translation will bring.
“As a computer science major, I’m a big proponent for programs and that kind of thing, so I think it can be a huge help and make it much quicker to translate more works,” Dalrymple said. “However, there is that human aspect of being able to understand the intent behind something that is not going to be able to be done through a computer.”
Holland said the need in Searcy for more language services is great, and she wanted the translation center to be a place known to be reliable, trustworthy and helpful. She said the Foreign Language Department and Center for Translation have opportunities for students of all majors to participate. Holland and the members of the Translation Club highly encourage every student to take a foreign language class.
“I think that [the Center for Translation] is important for students of all majors,” Holland said. “God told us to go into all the world. How are we going to go into the world and preach if we don’t speak their languages?”