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Intern Spotlight

Thinking about missions? Wondering how to spend your next break? Our most recent batch of interns share their experience at Wycliffe and how they have put their skills to good use while learning more about the work of Bible translation.

1. Tell us more about your role at Wycliffe during your internship.

Andrea: I worked with the Teochew storying project team with members from both Wycliffe Singapore and Wycliffe Malaysia. In this project, we aimed to craft audio Bible stories for people whose heart language is Teochew. After several training sessions, I was involved in processes like back-translation and preparation of questions for community testing. I even got to translate stories into our home language – Singlish! I also had the chance to test the suitability of some Teochew Bible stories with native Teochew speakers.

Ruth: During my internship, I supported the work of two groups of people. The first group served Wycliffe’s ministry in Indonesia. I was tasked to assist the preparation of materials for workshops they would run with believers who are members of the target people groups. There were two workshops I was involved in preparing for. The first one was a scripture engagement workshop which aimed at training families to memorise scripture.

My main task was to help add credits (a creative commons license label and the ministry’s logo) at the end of the videos and documents produced for this workshop. The second workshop I helped to prepare materials for is about the living and the dead. My main task was to look up scripture (from a list of scripture references provided) and sort them according to their relevance in answering questions on the living and the dead (also from a list that was provided).

The next group I helped was the communications team at Wycliffe Singapore. My task was to redesign the brochure for Wycliffe Singapore.

Joanna: At my internship with Wycliffe during my school holidays, I was assigned to the Wycliffe Thailand office to help draft an updated website for them as well as to help out with a member’s translation project. I first picked up very basic Thai with a friend after being motivated by mission trips and visits to Thailand; thereafter, I self-learnt for a short while before eventually formally enrolling in the Thai language course as a minor in university, which I have since successfully completed.

2. What was most enjoyable/memorable and what did you find most challenging (and why)?

Andrea: I thoroughly enjoyed learning how to do story testing and carrying out a story testing session! I had the privilege of going to a colleague’s grandmother’s house to test a Teochew story. It was so memorable because after listening to the story about the blind man at Jericho being healed, she spoke about how she believed in Jesus, and she was able to walk again after the surgery for her hip fracture. This heart-warming moment made me realise that the translation process has so much potential to bring people to Christ. In the process of checking whether the story is clear and natural, the people listening to it also hear about Christ and His wonderful works! My internship took place during the Covid-19 pandemic. This meant that everyone had to work from home, instead of together at the office. This was a slight challenge to adjust to, because my supervisors told me that much of the learning comes from conversations in the office. Being stuck at home meant that I was not able to have those conversations as much as I would have liked. Nonetheless, the work that I was able to do at home with my team was undoubtedly beneficial to me.

Ruth: The most interesting experience for me was the orientation sessions at the start of the internship. I found them insightful and thought-provoking. My favourites were the sessions on bible translation and literacy, perhaps because they are the newest to me. The most enjoyable part of actually working, though, was probably be redesigning the corporate brochure. Although it was not without frustration, there’s more to feel accomplished about with the end-product for this project compared to the others, since it involves more creativity.

The most challenging project was the preparation for the workshop on the living and the dead. I think this is due to the difficulty in communication and coordination with the team members in different parts of the world, since there was the difference in time zones to work with. Secondly, sometimes it was challenging to coordinate working on the same project because of different ways of working. The preparation for this workshop in particular was challenging also because of the nature of the task – there were many questions and scripture references to pore over.

Joanna: I think the most enjoyable aspect of the internship was the relatively free rein given to me to change up the website’s design and organisation (as long as it fit with the general colour scheme of the original website), which greatly helped as I explored the different possible colour, background and font combinations. While the website could be more aesthetically pleasing, I think that the user experience has definitely improved (if I might say so myself, haha). Hope the website will be officially published soon!

On the flipside, the most challenging – though not insurmountable – aspect of the internship was the translation project that I was asked to work on. While I have had some experience in translating English to Thai texts before, most of the translation that I had done were conversational sentences and not narrative descriptions, which this project had as it was a book. It was important to learn how to grasp the essence of the atmosphere that the narrative text was trying to convey instead of stubbornly trying to translate the expressions word for word.

3. What is your biggest takeaway?

Andrea: Preaching to people in their heart language is more essential than I had previously thought. There are more groups that are non-literate, so our conventional means of evangelising by giving them the written Word will not be effective. Hearing the Word in their native/heart language connects their souls with the Word in a way that would not be possible if they were to hear it in a second or third language. In summary, I learnt that reaching out to others in love may mean reaching out to people in their heart language.

Ruth: It’s important to know and remember the purpose of your work.

Joanna: My biggest takeaway would be the fact that I managed to make use of and develop my existing skills during this internship. I had some prior experience in both website design and translation, but my tasks enabled me to learn more – I must thank my supervisor Hoong Yen for assigning me to such appropriate projects. For the former, I was able to learn more about the Wix website design interface and its various functions; for the latter, I gained experience in translating more narrative structures as well as learning Thai words relating to a biblical context.

4. Any words of advice for those considering an internship at Wycliffe?

Andrea: Go for it! This internship has been more than fruitful. It’s truly a unique opportunity: as someone studying linguistics, where else would I be able to find a job that applies what I study AND actively exercises my faith through work?

Ruth: Be open to learn and receive as much as you intend to give of yourself through the work you do. Follow up on things that interest you in the work, rather than thinking of work and non-work as a strict binary. For example, if you come across scripture that you don’t understand or encounter an interpretation that is different from your current understanding, don’t brush away the questions that emerge in your mind just because answering those questions is not necessary for executing the tasks you’ve been given. Search for answers to the questions because as much as you’re doing the work for God ultimately, He could also teach you a thing or two through it.

Joanna: Just go for it! If you are someone that would like to learn new things while doing work that you know will help contribute in some small way or another to something meaningful (i.e., the work that Wycliffe does), then this is for you. Also, a major plus point: the people at Wycliffe are friendly and welcoming – having scary supervisors or scheming co-workers found in movies or horror stories from friends will be the least of your worries.

If you’re looking for some work experience or just want to give time to serve the Lord in a mission agency, we welcome you to join us! Serve from one month to a year, as a support worker or in the field – we’re sure that God will speak to you through this experience. You can also volunteer with us on a regular or ad hoc basis.

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