by Eva Gudbergsdottir

Three winners outside in front of the CNS MIIS sign
Middlebury Institute students Magdalena Kotzurek MATI ’20, Matthew Ross MACI ’20, and Rachel Echeto MAT ’20 excelled in the United Nations-sponsored St. Jerome’s Translation Contest. (Credit: Kelly DeWolfe )

Once again, Middlebury Institute students of Translation and Interpretation excelled in the United Nations-sponsored St. Jerome’s Translation Contest. Held for the 14th time in 2019, the contest is organized by the Conference Management Service of the United Nations at Vienna.

This year three first year Middlebury Institute students have been invited to Vienna to attend the Award Ceremony on May 16th: prize winners Matthew Ross MAT ’20 (French), Magdalena Kotzurek MACI ’20 (German), and honorable mention recipient Rachel Echeto MAT ’20 (Spanish). In addition, recent alumna Zilin Cui MACI ’18 won second prize for her translation into Chinese. 

“We are so proud of our students and graduates who have won this prestigious award from the UN in recognition of the high quality of their translation work,” says Dean of the Graduate School of Translation, Interpretation, and Language Education Laura Burian. “It is a testament to the quality of the Translation and Interpretation program, faculty, and students at the Institute.”

We are so proud of our students and graduates who have won this prestigious award from the UN in recognition of the high quality of their translation work.
— Laura Burian, dean of the Graduate School of Translation, Interpretation, and Language Education

Launched in 2005 by the English Translation Service at UN Headquarters, the contest is held each year to commemorate International Translation Day. In 2017, the contest was welcomed by the General Assembly in its resolution 71/288 on the role of professional translation in connecting nations and fostering peace, understanding and development. The test piece for contestants translating into English was a Spanish text entitled “El Guernica en la trituradora de Banksy”. The test piece for contestants translating into Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish or German was an English text entitled “Out of my comfort zone, wandering around Harrods in the wrong trousers.

“I was delighted to receive the second prize,” shares Zilin, who says she particularly “enjoyed working through the intellectual challenge of finding the right tone and expressions to convey the meaning and the sarcasm in the text in a way that speaks naturally to Chinese readers.” After graduation she completed a six-month internship with the UN in New York and is now working as a freelance interpreter and translator, a position that has allowed her to put her “MIIS training to good use” and has taken her to interesting locations such as Costa Rica, Washington DC, and Texas.

It's a great compliment to win the contest! It shows that I'm on the right track, which is wonderful.
— Magdalena Kotzurek MATI ’20

"It's a great compliment to win the contest! It shows that I'm on the right track, which is wonderful,” says Kotzurek, adding that she “loves both translation and interpretation because of the very creative work with words they often entail.” This is the field she would like to focus on after graduating. Echeto says that the contest seemed like another opportunity for her to challenge herself and apply some of the things she learned in the first semester at the Institute. “I had no idea what to expect; but I figured at the very least it would be a good exercise. And, thinking about some of the decisions I made in my submission, I think the experience really has contributed to my growth as a translator. To receive an award for it is also amazing!"

The awards ceremony will be held on May 16th in the United Nations Office at Vienna.

For More Information

Jason Warburg
jwarburg@middlebury.edu
831-647-3516

Eva Gudbergsdottir
evag@middlebury.edu
831-647-6606