Prof. dr. Aurelija Leonavičienė, dr. Giedrė Pranaitytė

After the official opening of the Centre of Francophone Countries at Vytautas Magnus University in 2016, the cooperation with universities operating in Francophone countries, international organizations and the European institutions has intensified considerably. New perspectives on academic studies, professional development and cultural cooperation have quickly opened up since the beginning of 2020, when Vytautas Magnus University became a member institution of the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF). From that moment on, the number of opportunities for international cooperation increased for all members of the academic community. Of course, there is one condition to be met: you must speak French.

International study activities and research possibilities offered by the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) have attracted the attention of students of the BA program “Language and Culture of Francophone Countries” at Vytautas Magnus University. Translation students usually aspire to become professional translators and editors of artistic and commercial texts. The shortage of such specialists is well known in Lithuania: the lack of translators in our country has been repeatedly discussed and scrutinized by editors, heads of Lithuanian language departments of different EU institutions, leading translators and the Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators. Professional translators can translate the EU legislation and other documents but at the same time they want to contribute to the dissemination of literature and culture of French-speaking countries in Lithuania. In 2003, during the meeting organized in order to establish the Translation Center, the literary critic Vytautas Kubilius expressed an interesting idea: it was not the original books published in Lithuania but the books translated into Lithuanian that had a decisive influence on the development of Lithuanian philosophical thought and opened new possibilities for the literary expression. At present, this idea seems to be particularly relevant. The current tendency manifests the importance of the professional activity of translators and reveals the need for high quality translations.

Translation studies are organized not only via the study programs of the Department of Foreign Language, Literary and Translation Studies at Vytautas Magnus University, but also by the Regional Directorate of Central and Eastern Europe of the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF). In 2020 and 2021, this directorate invited young people to take part in the distance learning program “Europa Plus” for students in journalism, communication, translation and philology. This opportunity was offered to academic institutions belonging to the AUF university network and all participating students had a very good command of French. The main objective of this six-month training course is the following: to translate texts written for the press into French, to introduce translated pieces of national and European news to students from other countries, as well as to improve French language skills by taking part in an international group of students led by specialists of translation and French native speakers.

“It was a great chance to discover the profession of a translator in more depth. I was able to understand all the work involved in obtaining the final version of a concrete translation much better. »- Karolina Vingytė shares openly about her personal experience. Being a fourth year student of the BA program “Language and Culture of Francophone Countries”, she successfully completed the translation studies organized by the AUF at the end of the summer together with other students from 21 countries: Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Hungary, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, etc. The student admits: “I have read a lot of press articles in French to be able to use French sentences correctly and reproduce the necessary writing style while translating Lithuanian texts into French. I have observed to myself more than once that a translator obviously needs to translate texts from one language to another, but at the same time certain elements of different cultures must be transferred into the text so that they would be properly understood. People living in one country may understand the same things quite differently from those who reside in another country because their experiences are not the same. In the course of the translation process it is extremely important to convey the meaning to interlocutors from another culture in an appropriate and understandable way. For all these reasons, I am really passionate about translation. The practice of translation acquired at the AUF has convinced me once again that my future is inseparable from being a translator.”

Karolina Vingytė is the only Lithuanian student who has taken part in the translation studies organized by the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie in 2021. She seems to be delighted that this practice of translation led her first “to developing a greater interest in journalism and what is happening in our country and then to a more active broadening of the horizons of life in other foreign countries. After having selected and translated a larger number of relevant articles, we commented and discussed them more extensively with the other members of the group. I was looking forward to these meetings because everyone was well prepared and it was interesting to listen to what was happening in other countries, how their inhabitants were living, etc. The translation studies were conducted only in French, so I significantly improved my knowledge of the French language. “

Translation is a really wide and open area of activity, covering, as Yves Gambier wrote, objects of “various geometries”: artistic, journalistic, scientific, administrative texts, descriptions of various goods, labels, etc. Given the current diversity of translation objects, translators tend to specialize, often choosing to translate texts in a specific field. This tendency has already been mentioned by the translators from European institutions (European Parliament, European Court of Justice) who have organized seminars on the translation of administrative texts for the students of French philology. Seminars organized with the assistance of these translators having extensive professional experience together with translation studies at Vytautas Magnus University have encouraged many students to participate in various translation-related activities and submit their applications for internships in different Lithuanian language departments of the Directorate-General for Translation (DGT) of the EU institutions. Deimantė Gudzinskaitė, a graduate from the BA program “Language and Culture of Francophone Countries” in 2021, has recently won the competition to obtain a translation internship offered by the European Parliament. This six-month internship opens up new opportunities for the young specialist in the field of automated translation, it allows her to acquire new skills and it provides the opportunity to get to know Luxembourg as well.

“During the translation seminar organized in collaboration with the European Parliament that I attended in the course my last academic year, I was told about the possibility of an internship at the European Parliament either in Brussels or in the city of Luxembourg. The conditions of the internship were appealing enough and the opportunity seemed truly exceptional to me. This internship offered in such an important European institution can also become a serious basis for a career. So, I didn’t think long: I simply filled out all the necessary documents during the application period and applied for an internship at the Lithuanian Language Department of the European Parliament in Luxembourg. At the time I didn’t even think I would win, but I did. I am happy to get this opportunity and I believe that an internship in the European Parliament will help me not only to get deeply involved in the practice of translation but it will also inspire me to reflect on my professional future “, says Deimantė Gudzinskaitė.

Deimantė Gudzinskaitė started her internship at the European Parliament on October 1, 2021. She makes no secret that translation was not her dream when she came to study at Vytautas Magnus University: “Before I started my studies, my vision of translation was filled with clichés: it was associated with the office work, mostly repetitive and boring. In reality, none of this is true. When we started to learn the subtleties of literary translation I was really impressed. I liked the fact that a professional translator could combine creativity and science while translating a literary text. This means that the translator must express the idea of the author of the original text and create his own interpretation at the same time. I realized that I was interested in the science of translation and that I could feel comfortable when translating texts.” Indeed, everyone strives to approach the science of translation or the professional practice of translators in a different way. However, the most important thing is to feel a strong passion for the chosen professional activity. No matter what kind of text or style the translator has to deal with, he will always have to follow the path of intercultural communication and invite the foreigner to come to his home for a visit.