Interview Campaign for Translators: Milena Alvarez from Venezuela

By Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik e.V.- Another interview with a professional translator about her work, and her ideas about intercultural communication. What Milena Alvarez tells me about herself: Born in Caracas, Venezuela, with a BA on Modern Languages (UNIMET), a Diploma in Translation (UNIMET), MA on Marketing Management (UNIMET), a Diploma on TIC’s (UNIMET), and just finished the Legal Translation Program for Sworn Translators at CENDECO (UNIMET), also in Caracas, Venezuela. I worked for 10 years in the Pharmaceutical Industry taking charge of the Corporate Image of all the packaging materials in one of the top 5 Pharmaceutical Laboratories in Venezuela, being in touch with all the procedures for launching a new drug into the market, coordinating all the marketing, regulatory, legal, operative information needed to be on the packages, in order to have them available for the public, complying with all governmental, GMP and GDP requirements. I attended many conference calls as a participant or interpreter, reviewed and standardized the regulatory and legal information, as well as procedures for all the packaging materials of 384 SKU’s, and kept in touch with all subsidiaries and providers from other countries to maintain a consistent corporate image along with the standards. As a freelancer, I’ve worked for the last three years in legal translations for civil, academic and mercantile documents for companies as well as for individuals. Even though I’m not a sworn translator yet, I work with a colleague who is. The objective of my work is to make people’s communications easier among different cultures. That is not only for my translations, but for everything I do in life. I’m Catholic and actively participate in my parish as a Eucharist musician, accompanying the Mass celebration as well as some events related. I’m also a single mom of a teenager who just graduated from high school.
1.- What are the principal linguistic and intercultural problems for translators into and from the languages you handle?
Regarding the linguistic problems, I would say the way the writer uses language. Sometimes the ideas are not completely clear and I have to figure out what they meant by asking the writer or looking for opinions from colleagues. 
Now, regarding intercultural problems, the main problem is to know if the tone and perception of the situation described or content written is used in the target language. It is very important to understand how that target language work in the field and situation expressed in the source language. 
2.- What do you think is important to promote intercultural dialogue?
It is important to promote intercultural dialogue to smooth and improve relationships between people from different cultures as we live in a globalized environment, the information travels so fast, and we all definitely depend on each other to build a peaceful and happy place to live in. To get there, it is important to respect each other and that is only possible if we know and interact willingly with other people.
3.- How can translations improve communication between peoples and promote a culture of inclusion and peace?
Translations are the channel to show a side of the world to other people who don’t know a language. There is a lot of information that can’t be known by others unless translated. And not everybody speaks the same languages. Even in the same culture, there are variations that change perspectives on the same issues and experiences. In addition, there is a remarkable phenomenon when a culture teaches another culture about itself and vice versa. We know that by knowing other languages and cultures, our mind becomes more widen, we learn to see and perceive things from different points of view, and gives us the awareness that we are so similar and different than any other person.
4.- How can you explain to foreigners how different your native language is? 
My language is Spanish from Venezuela. I consider every language as a person, even variants would be like the members of a family. For instance, you have a Father who speaks firmly and advises on what’s right and wrong. But your Mother teaches you how to eat, walk, talk, play, etc. by describing everything in a very detailed manner. Then comes you brother who bugs you with very short sentences and short-concrete words that gets you lost at first, but then you get used to it and start talking to him in a similar way, so you can understand each other.
My language is in short a very romantic and happy person, who enjoys having fun very much, and when it gets serious, talks a lot.
5.- How can your language to foreigners in the best way?
Immerse yourself with all your senses and live it while learning. Don’t worry about mistakes, you’ll get better soon. Just feel it, use it, live it.
6.- What are the principal problems you have when they have to translate into a European language?
The cultural issue: I’ve never been in Europe, neither have contact with people born there on a regular basis. So, I believe I need to learn the manners, expressions of feelings and jargon of that particular country in order to be able to do it right.
7.- What does intercultural awareness and intercultural empathy mean to you?
Intercultural awareness means to conscious about there being many different cultures from yours and many different points of view. Intercultural empathy is the ability of understanding the meaning of being different and make others be comfortable with it.