Uniting Worlds One Word at a Time

Since its inception in 2013, the Translation Program at LAU has witnessed continuous growth, expanding significantly in terms of the number of students, research and writing skills.

By Luther J. Kanso

According to Dr. Affeich, the Translation Program at LAU is promoting intellectual growth and nurturing critical and creative thinking among its undergraduate students.

It goes without saying that, among the miscellany of characteristics binding the world together, language acts as a unifying basis throughout cultures. To celebrate the beauty of language and provide fruitful opportunities for its students, the School of Arts and Sciences at LAU launched its Translation Program in 2013 which has been growing ever since.

As all initiatives begin, the program started out as a seed, reigning in a handful of students, 10 at most. Since then, considering the number of symposia the program has organized on various translation topics, its cultivation of a profound appreciation of the cultural backgrounds of the source and target languages and its aim to provide its students with practical experience in translation tools, enrollment has increased year after year.

“The aim of our program is to equip our prospective graduates with the necessary knowledge, skills and ethical values to enhance communication and foster unity within communities when they enter the field,” said former Coordinator of the Translation Program, Associate Professor of English and Applied Linguistics Nuwar Mawlawi Diab.

Among the symposia and conferences on various translation topics, the program organized two major international events: The First International Translation Conference in 2019, in collaboration with the UK-based ARTIS, and the 17th Annual International Conference of REALITER in 2021–a first-of-its-kind in the Middle East, specifically in Lebanon.

Aside from conferences, the prosperity of its students remains the program’s focal point of interest. To that end, it aims to encourage student publications to promote research and writing skills. “By providing high-impact experiences and research opportunities,” said Assistant Professor of Translation and Coordinator of BA in Translation and English Andree Affeich, “the Translation Program at LAU is promoting intellectual growth and nurturing critical and creative thinking among its undergraduate students.”

Unique opportunities offered to translation students range from publishing scientific articles with their instructors in high-impact journals; interning at many institutions, including government institutions in Lebanon; speaking at recruitment, open-door and career fair events; and meeting international scholars from the US, the UK and Europe who specifically visit LAU.

Both Dr. Affeich and Dr. Mawlawi Diab were delighted by their students’ “testimonials that reflected their appreciation of these opportunities and their deep understanding of the translation demands of different texts.”

As a Lebanese American institution, added Dr. Affeich, the program makes sure that oral and written English and Arabic are well-practiced to give students an edge in Lebanon, the region and the Arab world at large.

“My primary target has always been to expose and enrich students’ education in order to prepare them for their future careers in the field of translation and language studies,” emphasized Dr. Mawlawi Diab. “This exposure not only gets them interested but also provides them with the trigger they need to work hard on their translation skills.”

Associate Professor of Arabic and Persian Literature and Chairperson of the Department of Communication, Arts and Languages Vahid Behmardi set out to commemorate these fundamental students’ achievements in an event on International Translation Day in September.

“I am glad that the Translation Program was established when I was serving the Department of Humanities as chair in 2013,” he said. “A decade later, witnessing a full-fledged program celebrating its anniversary after ten years of sustainable progress shows that success depends on dedication and determination.”

On the day – among several events organized throughout the new academic year – “the department and the program are mainly planning to invite local speakers to present their research work on translation studies in collaboration with Librairie du Liban Publishers,” announced Dr. Affeich. “They will also prepare a documentary on the Translation Program and showcase 18 stories that have been translated from Arabic to English by undergraduate students.”

“I hope the International Translation Day celebration will demonstrate the caliber of LAU’s translation students as manifested in their research skills as well as the translation certificates they earned from Librairie du Liban,” said Dr. Mawlawi Diab.