To help the world combat the Covid-19 pandemic, Alison launched the course Coronavirus – What you need to know. In order to make sure that no one was excluded from accessing possibly life-saving information, Alison committed to translating the course into as many languages as possible. To achieve this ambitious goal, Alison reached out to its community of Learners, seeking volunteers willing to use their language skills to help translate the course and spread important information on coronavirus. Andy Ho translated the course into Chinese and played his part in spreading free learning that has helped save lives.
Andy, tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
My name is Andy Ho and I am from Singapore. I have been working in the Information Technology sector since 1998, and have had the privilege of working in various IT sectors both locally and overseas, including healthcare, media, higher education and most recently, the government sector. I am happily married to my beautiful wife Zoe Michele, and have been blessed with two wonderful kids, Michaela and Alexander.
How did you learn that Alison was looking for translators for its coronavirus course?
I have been an Alison user since 2017 and am subscribed to all newsletters. On 4 February 2020, the CEO & Founder, Mike Feerick, personally sent a newsletter to loyal Alison subscribers, with the subject title, “BREAKING – Coronavirus: Causes, Latest Known Symptoms, and Prevention”. This was in response to the international health threat of the coronavirus. Alison stepped up to the challenge of creating a short certificate course for users to study for free. The very next day, the Alison Team followed up with an email titled “Coronavirus: We need your help to make people aware, Andy!”. My parents, the late Mr Ho Sook Niou and Madam Helen, always taught me the values of being selfless and doing things for the greater good. I contacted the Alison team and offered my full assistance.
What was your experience of Alison before volunteering to translate? Had you studied with Alison before?
I have been a registered user of Alison since 2017. To date I have completed courses ranging from food safety to six sigma, from music theory to the current coronavirus course. When I joined the higher education sector, I was looking for opportunities to enrich myself in all areas. I realized the importance of lifelong learning, and with a rapidly changing world, it’s extremely important that we keep up to date with current trends.
Why did you offer to translate our coronavirus course?
I saw the early struggles faced by Chinese-speaking countries where the citizens were struggling to access information, as much information was available in English only. Citizens were dying rapidly because of the lack of critical information in their own native language. The experience of working in multinational companies made me realise that even though the world’s countries have progressed significantly in terms of technology, critical life-saving information with regards to healthcare is still severely lacking, especially in many citizens’ native languages. I believed that I could make a significant difference by saving lives.
Why is it important that everyone has access to important information on coronavirus?
The more information citizens have with regards to the coronavirus, the better equipped they will be to protect themselves and their love ones. In Singapore, it was evident: foreign workers were really experiencing the impact of COVID-19 as a huge number of them had no access to information in their native language.
Tell us a little about your method when translating.
I used the Excel master template provided by Alison, that split up the course into various sections. A Google Translation was also provided for our reference. Having a deep understanding of the Chinese language, I was well aware that not all Google translations would be accurate (including the characters being used). For each section that required translation, I copied the text onto Word, checked the Google translation and read it out loud to see how it sounded. I downloaded a Chinese software called NJStar, which allowed me to input Chinese characters via pinyin. After making my edits, I checked the full structure to ensure minimal loss in translation.
Why is free learning so important and why is it important to translate it into many languages?
Free learning is important because there are millions of citizens in the world who are struggling to make ends meet, and can’t afford to pay to learn a skill or a life-saving course. Similarly there are millions of citizens who, because of a lack of education opportunities, continue to only speak their native language and hence are unable to obtain valuable life-saving information that is not available in their own language.
Have you been learning through Alison during the pandemic? How has the lockdown been for you?
I have benefited greatly from learning through Alison pre-pandemic, as well as during the pandemic. COVID-19 is the challenge of our generation, however, it provided accelerated opportunities for home-based learning and reskilling. What was previously unavailable, now became available through online learning.
What would you say to people who might be interested in translating for Alison?
You can make a difference! What may seem insignificant to some, becomes extremely beneficial (and in many ways a life saver) to others. Always be open to differences in opinions, and take that leap of faith!
If you’d like to play your part in overcoming the coronavirus pandemic by helping Alison give people access to the information necessary to keep themselves and their loved ones safe, please get in touch.