Hanna Mata, TI ’19


Hanna Mata at MGIMO with fellow students and professors.

This past November, I had an internship in Moscow. I attended classes at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (also known as MGIMO) and the Moscow State Linguistic University (MSLU.) There were classes on translation and interpretation, also classes on theory of translation in the Master’s degree program. I participated in the class assignments along with the students from Russia who study to be interpreters and translators. They have teachers who used to work or currently work at the United Nations. They were giving classes on simultaneous interpretation for international organizations and in diplomatic settings. It was insightful to see different teaching approaches and learn translation/interpretation techniques from so many different teachers. I attended classes that were taught by 6 professors as MGLU, and 5 professors at MSLU.
The MSLU offers a special course designed to prepare students for working at the United Nations. The students are taught to translate and interpret UN speeches and documents.

Professor Faekov used to be the chief interpreter of the Russian booth at the UN. Now, he teaches simultaneous interpretation at MGIMO. The exercises he gives are targeted at building up the vocabulary and background knowledge. What’s more interesting, he has plenty of anecdotes from his career that provide some insight into the profession.

MGIMO hosted a Russian translator from Nairobi who gave master classes on translation. He went into details explaining the choice of terminology and the sentence structure as required by the UN. This gave me a new perspective on translation and the rules a translator is to abide by when working at international organizations.

Professor Zubanova from the MSLU wrote a book on note-taking techniques that helped us lay the foundation for note-taking in consecutive interpretation in the second semester. I attended her classes on both consecutive and simultaneous interpretation. I also had a chance to talk to her privately and ask her some questions to get her perspective on some aspects regarding interpretation and note-taking techniques.

Professor Petrov who works at the MSLU is a polyglot. He is a famous teacher, interpreter, and broadcaster. He used to work with the Soviet leaders and Russian presidents. He is a former interpreter for Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, and Vladimir Putin. His classes gave some helpful pointers on sight translation and the techniques on processing information and tackling various challenges.

This experience was not only useful in terms of attending classes and learning from the best, but also helped me understand my level of language proficiency and interpreting skills and compare them to that of my colleagues in Moscow. It helped me better understand my strengths and areas that need improvement. I have learnt that Russian students also grapple with similar difficulties in the Russian language as we do, although
not to the same extent. Three weeks spent in Moscow definitely improved my Russian, particularly register and style. Staying in the country where the language is spoken undoubtedly improves the language.

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