Gabriel Alejandro Martinez Curbelo, a young Venezuelan man, shares how becoming a freelance translator on Conyac served him in a moment of need.
Let’s start with a quick self-introduction
My name is Gabriel Curbelo. I am a 25-year-old Venezuelan man working towards becoming a great chef someday.
How did you first hear about Conyac?
I first heard about Conyac from a friend of mine, a girl that used to be my student back when I was teaching Japanese grammar. She told me there was a translation website in constant need of new translators, and that all you had to do was taking a language test. I first thought that I wouldn't be able to pass it. After all, I really don't know that much Japanese. If it were to be some complicated, technical text, I would be screwed. But even though some jobs require a high proficiency in languages, that specific one only demanded a basic understanding of Japanese.
As for English, well, I already knew the language pretty well, so... that made it even easier. I, therefore, gave it a try and got selected.
You left Venezuela and currently live in Argentina. How did that happen?
Yes, I am currently living in Córdoba, Argentina. I left my country for obvious reasons. I don't think it is necessary to speak about the situation in Venezuela. Even though you probably don't know the actual facts and just hear what people say here and there, everyone agrees on the fact that there is something wrong there.
For some reason, I feel uncomfortable talking about that to non-Venezuelan people. Because they will never really understand. To me, being a Venezuelan conveys an ambivalence, so much that I feel disgusted and proud at the same time. I would just say that I left my country to be able to live a normal life, and Argentina just was the easiest option. But this is just a first step on a long road.
As to the how, well... Conyac enabled me to do it. I mean, I would have left my country anyway. I was mentally prepared to cross the border and hitchhike to Argentina then live in my friends' floor. But working for Conyac, and with how much I translated in just a few days, I was able to buy myself clothes, a plane ticket, and give money to some friends and family who were in need. Then I have been able to live and eat really well in Argentina for a couple of months. And I still have money left.
You can translate from English and Japanese into Spanish. How did you come to learn your source languages?
I wouldn't consider that I properly know Japanese. I only studied for a few months because someone offered me a job as a teacher. I power-learned by memory more than 1,500 words (around 2,000 kanji) and half of the Japanese grammar in three months so I could teach it. But I could not actually understand a conversation.
Reading was more straightforward, and I liked it more. I am literally in love with kanji. I think they are so beautiful, and their balance between simplicity and complexity just baffles me. But I wouldn't consider that I actually learned the language. Japanese is so extensive in all its content and variable ways of speaking, as well as the difference between writing and speaking… No way. I do not know Japanese. English, however, well... who doesn't know English? I basically learned it listening to music and playing video games... like most of the other Generation Y teenagers.
Is translation your main activity?
Translation just served me in a moment of need. For some time I thought about it as a career, but the more I was learning about this business, the less attractive it sounded to me. No, my thing is culinary arts. Food. I love food.
But, that does not mean I am going to give up on my other passion, Languages. I, therefore, plan on learning French and Italian within the next few years because I want to work in Europe someday. I would love to work in Japan too at a certain point, but not too long… I am afraid not to be suited to Japan's working habits!
One last word?
Languages and words served me and pretty much saved me. They gave me comfort in every sense. And Conyac literally saved my life. I know it may sound exaggerated to people from first world countries, and it probably is. But for us, the trapped people, with no opportunities despite having a lot to offer, it means everything. A new beginning, a hand in a time of need. Opportunities are everything. And Conyac is definitely one of them.
Thank you, Gabriel, and we look forward to working with you again in the future! Best of luck on your journey :)
If you would like to become a freelance translator, consider signing up for Conyac!
Written by the Conyac Team, edited by DLKR