Panel Discussion on Translating Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie into Armenian
YEREVAN, Armenia – On October 4, 2019, the Certificate in Translation program of the American University of Armenia (AUA) had the privilege of hosting a panel discussion devoted to the translation and publication of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s famous 2012 TEDx talk “We Should All Be Feminists.”
The translation project was initiated by Laurie Alvandian and Nina Romá Agvanian, co-founders of Open Book Initiative (OBI), a Yerevan-based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting literacy and access to information.
“We noticed a lot of our friends commenting that if more high-quality Armenian translations existed, they would choose to read in Armenian more often,” said Director of OBI Alvandian in her talk. “Part of our mission at OBI is the preservation of the Armenian language through unfettered access to information, especially information that addresses the needs of underrepresented communities throughout Armenia. We felt Adichie’s words were extremely relevant at a time when women are gaining more power in Armenia, both politically and socially.”
The book was published in collaboration with the Women’s Resource Center as part of the Feminist Pocketbook Series. The translation was undertaken by AUA alumna Anna Grigoryan (BA EC ’18) who had also translated the first book in the Series, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Grigoryan noted that “translating Adichie’s TEDx-talk-turned-book was a challenging but rewarding experience. The process involved finding similarities between the Nigerian and Armenian cultures, understanding the subtle nuances of the original text, and experimenting with the translating language.” She went on to say that besides challenging and enhancing her translation skills, Adichie’s text has played a significant role in shaping her as a woman and a feminist.
“It was pure joy to bring these different parties together to produce this marvelous little book,” said Shushan Avagyan, assistant professor at the College of Humanities & Social Sciences (CHSS) and the editor of the Pocketbook Series. “We hope to continue in this collaborative vein and bring into Armenian at least some of the most important voices that deserve to be heard.”
Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.