Barrow Voice -
First Publised 1975
3,000 copies published quarterly and delivered FREE to all households in Barrow upon Soar

Genevieve Silk

Do you ever stop what you’re doing, take a look around you, and think to yourself “How on earth did I end up here?” It’s a feeling I’ve had on many an occasion over the last few years, and nearly all of them seemed to take place in Russia. It’s a feeling I had when a friend took me shooting (bottles, not bunnies!) in the Siberian woods and I was crossing my fingers as I pulled the trigger, hoping I wouldn’t hit the cyclists whose disembodied voices rode the mosquitoes in the heavy summer air. It’s a feeling I had when plunging into a small hole of icy water that had been hacked into the middle of a frozen lake in Tomsk after I’d been thrashed with birch branches (à la Russian tradition) in a stifling sauna. And it’s a feeling I certainly had when I was salsa dancing at a Russian army base after the friend of a friend had picked me up at 5am and driven me for 4 hours into a different time zone to attend a ceremony. One thing I’ve learnt since leaving school and leaving Barrow is that the more opportunities you say yes to, the more adventures will certainly come your way.

I wrote my first article for the Barrow Voice when I was 8. I interviewed my tennis coach and gave the article the oh-so-punny title “Well Served, James!” which I almost certainly did not come up with by myself. I continued writing throughout my time at school and produced a few articles, such as a review of the local beauty salon Creative Touch (I still remember that gorgeous facial to this day), and a more historic piece on the Bishop Beveridge House. I continued writing while at university but in a slightly different manner, as my degree in foreign languages (French, Russian, and Czech) brought me to translation, a field, I had been insisting for years, I had no interest in whatsoever!

In my final year at the University of Bristol (after returning from narrowly escaping trouble in far-off lands) I had the opportunity to translate a short story from Russian to English and publish it in the London-based online journal Slovo. I also entered a competition with a translation from Czech to English that a classmate and I had co-written, and for which we received a Special Jury Mention. I am currently working as a volunteer translator and proof-reader for the French online magazine Le Journal International, as well as translating blog posts from Russian to English for the fitness focused company Shape2Win. As cheesy as it sounds, what I particularly enjoy about translation is the sense of “code-breaking”, of staring round-eyed at what appears to be an indecipherable text and, bit by bit, unravelling the enigma, adding a sprinkle of my own creativity, and watching the words bloom in another tongue.

I first began translating in a professional context when I was working in France. I spent six months living in the idyllic town of Annecy and working for the company Salomon. My work there was simple: do a couple of translations for the company a week, and spend the rest of the time chatting to people so they could improve their spoken English.

Language teacher swiftly became therapist and my windowless, postcardcovered office became a safe space for my colleagues to vent. One colleague invited me to spend the weekend with her and her two daughters: an invitation that led to a tour of the spectacular Haute-Savoie countryside…in a helicopter!

The moment I returned to England the wanderlust set back in. I decided that after graduating, I would go to the Czech Republic to gain more work experience and improve the language – albeit a language that feels like the mental equivalent of inhaling noodles underwater. I began an internship with an NGO in Prague called dok. incubator, which works with independent documentary filmmakers and helps them achieve their potential and break into the international market. I am currently applying for master’s programmes in translation, and intend to spend the summer working in a hostel in Belarus which, hopefully, will bring even more adventure my way.

Genevieve Silk