Translated literature becomes a school lesson! As part of the project ‘Translators in Schools’, translators of literature, invited by The City Culture Institute, give lessons in schools in Gdańsk and surroundings. They illustrate how fascinating their work can be. The work which is all about juggling with language and looking for meanings.

Translators, like no other, can show the hidden layers of Polish versions of well-known novels or where to look for the right words when they are missing. A meeting with translators is a unique session on the border of literature, Polish language and a foreign language.

The project run by The City Culture Institute is an educational initiative. Here, school students develop their language passions and get to know the behind-the-scenes work of literature translators by participating in workshops. The lessons combine theory with text-based work. This is where young people translate a literary text (very often for the first time!) and discuss their choices with great language experts.

– It was a very interesting experience for me to participate in the project. During the workshops in high school, I could share my knowledge and skills in the field of literary translation with young people, show them ‘the work of a translator from the inside’, both theoretically and practically – says the English translator Zofia Szachnowska-Olesiejuk. – I was positively surprised by the student’s interest, which was reflected in the many questions they asked me and their involvement in their individual practice. I believe that thanks to the project, students have a chance not only to learn what the profession of a literary translator looks like and what it involves, but also to broaden their horizons: linguistic, literary and cultural – adds Szachnowska-Olesiejuk.

This year, translators and interpreters visited high schools: Liceum Ogólnokształcące no. VII and Liceum Ogólnokształcące of United Europe no. XV in Gdańsk, Liceum Ogólnokształcące no. X in Gdynia, Technikum TEB in Gdańsk oraz Zespół Szkół Zawodowych i Ogólnokształcących in Kartuzy.

The masters of words who shared their knowledge and experience were Wojciech Charchalis, this year’s laureate of Wislawa Szymborska Award for translating the poems of Fernando Pessoi, as well as Dorota Konowrocka-Sawa, author of, among others, a new translation of Orwell’s 1984, Kaja Makowska, translator of young adults books and other literature, and Zofia Szachnowska-Olesiejuk, whose translation output includes about 30 translations.

The initiative ‘Translators in Schools’ has been carried out and co-financed since 2017 by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage as part of the National Cultural Centre project: ‘Mother tongue – add to favourites’. Dozens of lessons and meetings of schoolchildren with translators took place during previous editions. An additional result of the project are lesson scenarios. They can be used free of charge for didactic (and non-commercial) purposes. More information about the project: