Language

Meet Anwar Dafa-Alla, TED volunteer translator

Posted by: Matthew Trost

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In the next weeks, the TED Blog will shine the spotlight on the fantastic TED volunteer translators — offering a glimpse of the people whose efforts continue to enrich the Open Translation Project. Today, we’d like you to meet Anwar Dafa-Alla.

Tell us about yourself.

My full name is Anwar Fatihelrahman Ahmed Dafa-Alla. I was born in Port Sudan, Sudan on January 23, 1978, and got my early education there. Graduated from the AASTMT as a Computer Engineer in 2003.

I’m married and have a small Sudanese family, my beloved wife Salma and my lovely daughter Egabl, the most valuable people in my life.

I’m the oldest brother of nine, four boys and four girls.

I worked as web designer/developer during my university days, and then as a part-time lecturer in my home town after graduation, for two colleges, and I established my own small company in the capital city of Khartoum in 2003, just before I came to South Korea and joined the Master course in Chungbuk National University, CheongJu, Chungbuk, Korea.

I finished my Master course in 2006, established my own company here also, till I suspended it and switched again to full-time Ph.D student at the same lab, hopefully to graduate next year, 2010. My research areas include, but are not limited to, databases, data mining, security, social networks, Internet applications and some mathematics.

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What drew you to TED?

Some Sudanese friends and I are sharing video lectures, papers and whatever comes to our hands. My lab mate sent me a link to a very inspiring talk. Later I watched the “African Einstein” talk by Neil Turok. The first thing came to my mind is how to spread this talk to many people in my country and our continent.

We love to follow the new ideas and discoveries from all disciplines. And I’m always optimistic that the best that humanity can offer has yet to come.

Participating in establishing several NGO and groups in Sudan, such as Sudan Developers Association, I believe in the ability of open source and collaboration work in changing our world to a better place.

And that’s exactly what I found in TED. I believe that every idea worth spreading, no matter what’s my humble opinion about it, reveals some “hidden possibility” in human-human interaction or even human-machine interaction. I’m a big fan of Hans Rosling, and I always whisper to myself: let my dataset change your mindset. :-)

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Why do you translate?

I’m a kind of restless guy, so I would do more than one task in parallel (multitask). Education is a life mission for me, through which my country Sudan, my continent, Africa, and the whole world can flourish.

I translate for the millions of Arabic language speakers (spoken by more than 280 million people as a first language). I translate because it’s a way to promote mutual respect between different cultures, people, religions, etc. Translation is a way to exchange ideas among us as humans.

I also translate for my friends; I think it’s a good gift that could change something in their lives. I translate for my daughter, your daughter and every kid and for the coming generations. I hope they’ll one day benefit a little from my translations.

Participating in the translation project is good method to show how compassionate we are toward each other, given that Arabic speakers are from different religious and cultural backgrounds.

Being from a country like Sudan, 7,000 years old, and the first civilization that built pyramids, I translate to promote peace and prosperity in my country also, complementing the efforts of my friend Emmanuel Jal who has done good steps that will change people’s perception about our Sudan — even among Sudanese themselves. The message of peace and love, that we’re one people, one nation, unlike what politics suggest. So, through translation I can change a little bit as well.

Currently my country has some conflicts; a lot of people have a single story about Sudan; even in our neighbor countries, we are stereotyped in a bad way. And that must be changed by us, solving our problems and participating actively in the global society. I met with a lot of talented people in Sudan; they couldn’t get the chance to show their creativity. For example, I met with Mamoun, 12 years old boy who does mathemagic. Unfortunately, he’s suffering from a disease.

I translate also because it tends to create new tribes and I meet a lot of great people. One of my favorite hobbies is to know people and cooperate with them for good causes. I would like to thank everyone who contributes something through TED, the compassionate place, where the are great Ideas Worth Spreading.

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NEW! Read this Q&A in Chinese >>

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