Inside Vandu HQ - Linda

  • 07/11/2016
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How are you finding the office and what is your role?

Within the office I’m currently training as a bookings co-ordinator in the apprentice scheme. I’m enjoying working in the office as it’s giving me a whole new experience and I’m learning new things all the time.

After work, what do you normally get up to?

After work I usually try to cram in as much as possible. It’s usually a catch up with my friends and family, as well as trying to plan something for the weekend. I’m always getting caught up doing different things and forgetting what time it is.

What’s your favourite past time?

My favourite thing to do to is to go out and take photographs to build up my photography portfolio. I love being behind the camera and snapping things from different angles. It’s a different way to express myself.  My favourite thing to photograph are typically landscapes and close-up nature photos; They have always inspired me.

The best thing about working at Vandu?

The best thing about working at Vandu is all the different things that I’m learning, whether it be about a new language or different methods and processes in the office. There’s always something new to learn!

What’s your favourite meal?

My favourite meal has got to be one of mum’s Turkish meals. Stuffed vine leaves. It always makes me feel good and takes me back to being a kid, visiting Cyprus in the summer.

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Gender Equality and Women in the Workplace

  • 02/11/2016
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As the US presidential election run-in continues to throw up controversy, headlines and debate, it’s given us at Vandu a lot to talk about, particularly the subject of women in the work place and gender equality. Why is there a gender disparity? When did the concept of feminism start? Is there progress being made?

To understand feminism and the movement towards gender equality, you would have to look back towards the early 1900’s. The social norm of men going to work, earning money and doing more-or-less as they pleased, while women stayed at home, cooked, cleaned and looked after the children meant for a totally patriarchal society. Places of power, be it in the work place, government or otherwise were reserved solely for men. It was only after The Representation of the People Act 1928 (and the work of the suffragettes), where all women above the age of 21 could vote that society began to progress.

And so what progress has we made? It’s undeniably gotten better; The western world is a leading example, Angela Merkel is the head of one of the power houses of Europe, closer to home we have Theresa May as our current Prime Minister and even here at Vandu our Director Mebrak came from a small village in Eritrea to become the owner of a successful small business company, with our Olivia being her right-hand (wo)man. But it seems we are in the minority, as disparities remain; whilst the gender pay-gap is getting smaller, a survey conducted in the US in 2015 concluded that in general women get paid around 20% less than men for the same job level, the percentage is worse still for women of colour…The survey goes on to predict that at the current rate it won’t be till 2152 that the US will see salary equality. Statistics aside, how is it that a man running for President can repeatedly say derogatory remarks about women and not have been made to resign? Why is there still a large gender pay-gap in the modern world?

In the lesser developed world, the situation is even worse with women often earning 50% less than their male counter-parts in areas of Asia, and in large parts of Africa there are problems with gender inequality in education as women are less likely to go onto higher education courses; In both these continents there are alarming rates of gender-based violence.

So, what are the solutions? We won’t pretend to have all the answers, but in first-world countries the change needs to be a cultural and societal one, and examples like a first female president can send a message and fuel the movement. In places like Africa and parts of Asia, the focus needs to be on the education of women - there is a definite correlation between higher education and higher wages (though the pay gap remains the same) and young men, in the way that they view women. As with racism, homophobia and xenophobia, the symptoms of sexism may not be as obvious as they once were; but the underlying problems, either through ignorance or deliberate prejudice, still remain.

 these websites were used for the statistics in this blog.

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World festivals in November

  • 31/10/2016
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As we cross into the colder seasons, and draw closer to the more familiar month of festivities, we look around the world for festivals in November.


Bonfire Night, Lewes, UK 

5th Nov

We’re very familiar with this one here at Vandu, seeing as our offices are in Lewes. Wrap up warm and because this event brings the streets of the town alive, where the permanent population of around 16,000 can swell to a massive 40,000. It is the biggest 5th of November event in all of England, garnering the title of the ‘Bonfire capital’ of the world, and some of the bonfire societies have been around since 1855. Of course the event is about Guy Fawkes failed attempt to blow up parliament, but there are also 17 burning crosses to represent a group of protestant martyrs from the town burned at the stake for their religious beliefs during the Marian Persecutions. The event has courted controversy with its ‘enemies of the bonfire’ effigies (Osama bin Laden, David Cameron and a certain pig have been victims of this tradition) as well as the occasional small bonfire-related injury; but the town makes up for it by transforming from a sleepy rural area into a large, loud and energetic carnival.

Lopburi Banquet, Lopburi, Thailand

Last Sunday of November

On the last Sunday of November, the town celebrates the annual ‘monkey festival’ which draws in crowds for the mass feeding of around 3000 long tail macaque monkeys. All year round, these monkeys tend to be petulant, pesky pests, but due to an old legend in which a monkey is the main character (A monkey deity and his monkey army are said to have saved a lord’s wife) they are tolerated, and even respected within the town because the locals consider macaques to be descendants of this legendary monkey, and therefore bring luck to its inhabitants. The feast itself is worthy of the animals’ more evolved primate relatives, and this truly shows when the feast descends into monkey-on-monkey food fight. Perhaps not one to fly all the way to Thailand for, but surely unmissable if you’re in the area.

La Calaca, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico,

30th Oct – 2nd Nov

La Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) is a holiday in Mexico that celebrates family and friends whom have passed on, and La Calaca is one of the most bright and colourful events in Mexico. Art installations, live music, creative workshops and late-night parties are scattered around the city for everyone to enjoy. Whilst La Calaca itself may not have much history (it was born in 2012), the city its located in is full of historic buildings such as the Santa Cruz del Churro Chapel, and Las Monjas; Ignacio Allende, one of the leaders of the Mexican Army during the Mexican War for Independence, was born in the city and it bears his name in light of his contributions.


Pushkar Camel Mela (Pushkar Camel Fair), Rajasthan, India

8th - 14th Nov


The Pushkar Fair is a five-day camel and livestock trading event held in the semi-arid town of Pushkar, which is in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Over fourteen days, the event sees over 11,000 animals and 400,000 attendees, making it one of the largest animal fairs on the planet.  The fair starts off with a camel race, after which the men and women divide, with the men selling the livestock and the women work the stalls, selling jewellery, clothes, and other fineries.  During the festivities there are other acts going on as well, such as music, poems and other types of performance. According to the old legends, on the final day of the event held on the day called Kartik Poornima, the Hindu God Brahma sprung the Pushkar Lake; locals swim in the water to celebrate the occasion.


Diwali, India

30 Oct – 3 Nov

Otherwise known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is an ancient and spiritual festival, often drawing comparisons with our western Christmas. The event comes from an old Hindu text referring to the story of Rama. In this story Rama has been exiled and battles all manner of demons, eventually culminating in a war with the Demon King Ravana. Upon Ravana’s defeat, Rama celebrates by lighting up the path home. This event is generally celebrated throughout India and there is an overriding sense of goodwill, as it is considered ill-mannered to be unwelcoming during Diwali. Through the story there is a focus on the ‘inner-light’ within yourself, and the triumph of good over evil. To truly experience the culture of this event, it’s best to take part in Diwali with an Indian family; as is with our Christmas, the festival of lights is more of an internal, family-based affair.

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The importance of good legal and medical interpreting

  • 26/10/2016
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Interpreting in a normal situation is an important job; being unclear can lead to misunderstandings which can often lead to mistakes. So when the stakes are raised and an interpreter is providing their service in a court of law or in a hospital, a person’s life can be irrevocably damaged if errors are made. The importance of professional interpreting in these situations cannot be underestimated.

For example, an interpreter in a law court needs to understand that words need to be used properly and within the correct context for an argument to work; there is also an emphasis on semantics as well and so if the interpreter is not up to scratch on these aspects the court will take away a different understanding to what the deposition set out, which can be a deciding factor in the result of the case. Cultural differences can be important as well, for instance the vast difference in culture between Japan and the UK make interpreting a deposition by a Japanese witness into English much more difficult than interpreting a similar deposition by a witness from French or Spanish.  

One of the most obvious pitfalls of interpreting in these situations are false cognates, which are words that sound the same in different languages but mean different things. An example of this is the Spanish word ‘embarazada’ which sounds like embarrassed but actually means ‘pregnant’. You can see why this could be problematic in a hospital situation. Another example of this is the word ‘intoxicado’ which translated properly from Spanish means ‘poisoned or having an allergic reaction’ but if a qualified interpreter isn’t used it can be misunderstood as intoxicated; this mistake was actually made in the US, where a young man was left quadriplegic after being sent to a hospital in a comatose state and misdiagnosed… the court settlement could end up rising to 71 million dollars.

In these situation it really pays to have an expert interpreter, because the risk of leaving it up to someone without the correct qualifications can actually be life-changing. 


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What is the difference between Interpreting and Translation?

  • 19/10/2016
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On the surface, it wouldn’t be foolish think that the only difference between interpreting and translation is that one is done face to face, and the other is done with written text. But the fact that both are rarely performed by the same person tells another story; there is a big difference in the skills and training needed, and the aptitude required.


The most important skills needed to be a translator are the abilities to understand the language and the culture the written text comes from. The translator then needs to be able to use their library of dictionaries and appropriate reference materials to accurately render the text to its required language. A translator needs a deep understanding of the target language.

Vandu only use translators who are qualified in translation to University level and have achieved a Degree or Masters, or a Diploma in Public Service Translation.  


An interpreter needs to be able to interpret from one language to another on the spot, listening to the source language whilst interpreting it into the target language ready for the client. You need excellent listening skills and intelligence to interpret what is being said, including idioms and colloquialisms from different cultures, from one language to another with precision.

When using interpreters, Vandu ensure that they are qualified to at least Community Interpreting Level 3. If Vandu are required to send interpreters to a court of law, interpreters will always be qualified in a Diploma in Public Service Interpreting in the Law option.




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