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Rinchen Dhondup

Rinchen-DhondupName: Rinchen Dhondup

Job Title: Interpreter and translator

Educational Qualification: Bachelor of Arts

My role & responsibilities (Job description) briefly:

I do both oral and written translations for Dorje Chang Institute, which is under the spiritual direction of Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche and the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). I usually translate Buddhist teachings given by the resident teacher Geshe Wangchen la. As part of my job at the Buddhist Centre, I sometimes lead discussions on Tibetan history and culture. I also work for the Immigration Department New Zealand as their casual Tibetan interpreter.

My advice to someone interested in this field:
Based on my own experience of being an interpreter and translator for a decade, if there are children who are inclined to be Buddhist translators in the future it would be very good for them to pay more attention to topics related to Buddhism and try to read Buddhist teachings and writings on Buddhist psychology, philosophy etc.

Nowadays there is a lot of Buddhist books printed in English. I think it would be very helpful for future translators to first read the teaching in Tibetan (if possible) and then read the English translation. From this they can learn, compare, deepen their understanding and expand their familiarity with terminology, etc. For the school it would be really good in the school library to have a separate section on Tibetan Buddhism and to have as many teachings/books/DVDs as possible from all schools of Tibetan Buddhism along with their English translation editions. When students are studying, it is really important that they understand the meaning of the teachings. If students don't understand the meaning, it is really important they ask the teachers or go to the section in the library and try to find explanations of the meaning. This would be much more effective and beneficial than only memorizing the teachings. In my experience just memorizing Buddhist texts or other texts at school does not provide the depth of understanding that is needed. The key point is that children should try to understand the teachings.

There are also a lot of teachings available on the internet in English, for example:

  • www.dalailama.com
  • Padmakara Translations
  • FPMT website fpmt.org
  • LYWA website www.lamayeshe.com
  • www.lotsawahouse.org

Apart from that those who are interested to be a translator should try to read the books of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on topics like A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life or even Beyond Religion, etc. The library should also contain as many works as possible by eminent scholars like Gendun Chopel, because almost all of his works are translated into English - so copies of the Tibetan and English can both be available. These cover topics of Tibetan History, etc. and this will help students gain translation experience.
There are so many Tibetan Buddhist centers throughout the world. The Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) alone has over 150 centers, study groups, etc. and many of these need translators. As a student going through these texts, they will also simultaneously develop the ethics of being a good translator which is indispensable.