SiroccoBlue Translation System

Thanks to great feedback from readers & recent posts on the crossroads–those spaces of contact that necessitate translation and that, in the Yoruba and Yoruba Atlantic cosmos are presided over by deities of communication and translation–I have decided to focus on the translative aspects of the Sirocco in the blog writing and also in terms of the services that I am offering.

The Sirocco wind system moves from the Sahara, carrying, literarily, sand and dry, hot air to Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, and beyond. As a metaphor, the Sirocco carries thoughts, ideas, cultural patterns and traditions, and a rich concept of cultures in contact across geographical regions. The Sirocco generates other wind and weather systems, as well, moving across the Atlantic to the Americas. That the Sirocco winds influenced architectural forms from Sicily to Persia serves as a visual reminder that we can build physical and theoretical ‘structures’ around the wind’s impact. That is one of the ways I aim to follow the wind system–to “use” it as a way to understand cultural continuities and cultural-linguistic practices of multiple diasporas, the crossing of boundaries (via scholarships, study abroad, language study), and the crossing of languages and cultures via translation as a process and as a practice that puts ideas in motion across the globe.

The name of the Sirocco winds ‘Sharq’ (Arabic), ‘Scirocco’ (Italian), Sirocco (Spanish), Xiroco (Portuguese) is, just at the level of the word, a reminder that this massive wind system is also a system of languages in contact, moving fluidly across land and water. The etymology of the word ‘Sirocco,’ then,  reminds me that in this wind system and its movement, we have another model for the process of translation and the impact of translation.

This search for a model for translation (or an ‘approach’) was at the core of my doctoral dissertation, where literary texts from the Caribbean and Latin America operated as a kind of roadmap into Yoruba religion in the Americas and, in turn, a rich approach to translation as the particular body of texts selected for study were all centered in acts of translation.

Return to Writing Projects

This new focus to the writing means a return to that dissertation period, the Fulbright research period just after it in Brazil, and then the past four years I have spent building, running, and teaching in language and culture study abroad programs in Brazil, Cuba, and the US. Translation (not necessarily the transfer of English, Spanish, and Portuguese in a literal sense, but rather the ‘movement across’ and ‘crossing of boundaries’ implicit in the prefix ‘trans-‘) also informed very important aspects of the work behind the nine major Latin American and Caribbean scholarship programs that I ran with great teams at Harvard University-Laspau until very recently.

This revised focus, thanks to readers and to the people who have commented on the content (especially the critiques!) means that I will be re-shaping parts of the doctoral dissertation as a book-length project (most definitely this will be an e-book), sharing pieces of the work on the blog, and using the theories on an expanded notion of translation to inform my professional translation work (translating between English, Portuguese, and Spanish and advising on translation projects). The content editing services (adapting text being of the domain of the translative) will continue and there will be  more creative writing and visuals on translation so that translation and adaptation (always something lost and gained in translation, always an adaptation) are seen in an enlarged perspective.

If you would like to contribute writing on translation in the broad sense that I have been writing of (most of the posts engage notions of transfer, crossroads, crossing, and exchange that are connected to translation as a metaphor), it would be a pleasure to publish your work. I’m very interested in personal accounts of translation and concepts on translation that come out of the practice of translating.

SiroccoBlue Translations & Translation Strategy Consulting

I’ll be taking all kinds of translation projects (English, Portuguese, Spanish), prioritizing creative texts, documents that have cultural or historical significance, or documents that have some type of social justice component.

I can also help organizations think through their communications in terms of translatability, brining the translator’s lens to your use of language and cultural codes. I have saved organizations significant time and expenses by adapting content in the original language so that it will be relevant cross-culturally in the target languages. If you have a global reach, thinking ahead towards language transfer and the cultural regions you are targeting can bring more focus to the original writing, as well. In addition, I can help identify the ways you want to use language in the original so that can be part of a translation strategy that you share with any contracted translator in any language–your linguistic identity will be much more effectively shared with translators in this way and they carry that identity into their work.

Being able to express the way you want language to interface with readers is the first key step in creating a translation map, something that brings unity to your writing in multiple languages. For larger projects that already have a translation staff, I help you articulate that linguistic identity, create the map, and make sure it resonates with your translators.

SiroccoBlue University-level Courses

I am offering classes and full-semester university courses in the following areas: Writing (expository, creative non-fiction, fiction), World Literatures in English, African diaspora studies, Translation theory and practice, Spanish and Portuguese language (conversation and upper-level only), Pre-Study abroad independent research course geared towards getting the most out of upcoming program enrollment.

SiroccoBlue International Education Services

Study Abroad for U.S.-based Universities
Part of expanding the idea of translation can be seen in the creation of high-quality, high-impact language and culture studies programs in Brazil, Cuba, Portugal and Spain. Translators train themselves linguistically and, just as importantly, culturally. Though the intention of these programs is not specifically to translate, the capacity to eventually move fluidly between cultural systems as good translators do is one of the primary objectives.

I just finished putting together a study abroad program in Santiago de Cuba that begins in Bronx, NY (a hands-on learning experience with the great local artists, African diaspora scholars, community leaders, all of whom are practitioners of West African and Afro-Atlantic religions, shedding light on the transformative roles that the religious philosophies cross with society, preparing students for that same paradigm). I have done the same in Salvador, Brazil. Those are in-tact language and culture programs ready to be customized and adapted to fit the needs of your school or organization. For Portugal and Spain, I will use the same methodology and the network has been established, but those programs will need additional time to be developed in-line with your school’s thematic interests.

These programs put you in the position of the self-refelctive translator who is moving between language and cultural systems. This rich straddled position that really is study abroad requires training (just like a translator needs training to be able to move fluidly between cultural and language codes) and I do a series of pre-departure and re-entry workshops on how to embrace the full-immersion learning.

Foreign Students | Master’s & Ph.D. Level Admissions at U.S. Universities
Right now (later I will offer more comprehensive support services and will expand to prep schools and undergraduate studies), I am focussing on application support services for full-length Ph.D. programs at U.S. universities and for scholarship programs to fund those studies. Because there is a wealth of free, general information on Master’s and Ph.D. programs to assist with basic questions on the U.S. system, I am offering very specific support for the two critical documents in your application: the Statement of Purpose and Personal Statement documents.

To me, working with you on these documents engages an enlarged concept of translation: you are communicating your unique project to a U.S. selection committee (and I help you formulate that project in a way that reads clearly and persuasively) and you are communicating aspects of your own personal story, tailoring that auto-biographical writing to showcase your ability to perform in a Ph.D. program.

These are culturally-framed compositions and selection committees have specific expectations. I help you develop the articulation of your research project and personal narrative in compelling, persuasive ways so that you can gain admission and with scholarship funding (either at the network of U.S. universities that I work with or outside).

Many foreign students are not aware that you can apply apply directly to Ph.D. program with just an undergraduate degree. This is called a “Master’s degree in passing.” You do not need to have completed a Master’s degree to apply to a Ph.D. program in the U.S., in other words, and applying directly to the Ph.D. carries excellent scholarship funding opportunities.

These two critical pieces of the application are, to me, two key translations: your personal story/autobiography (Dr. Mazen Naous writes of translation through the Arabic word ‘Tarjama,’ connoting ‘biography’ and ‘memory’) which is a ‘translation’ of your background into your research goals, and the clear, persuasive ‘translation’ of your background in the field with the courses, research tracks, professor supports of the particular department you are applying to.

Creative Publicity & Reviews

In English, Spanish, and Portuguese, I review businesses and organizations that directly or indirectly work with Sirocco aesthetics or cultural geographies. These writing pieces are customized to fit the needs of the organization, can be advertised to a specific, localized market, and are also posted on Yelp and TripAdvisor (in addition to the SiroccoBlue blog).

Please visit the Facebook page (and “like” it) for the most up-to-date information while this blog is developed into a webpage.

For more information on services, please email:

My Facebook admin name is Sirocco Azul (‘Blue’ was not allowed as a last name on Facebook–the nerve–so it translated into the Azul of Spanish and Portuguese!)

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