By Phil Bartle, PhD
The backbone of this web site and the collective that develops it is a set of volunteer coordinators. Over ninety per cent of the correspondence related to the development of the site is by or through them. Each coordinator has a number of volunteers, that number being anywhere between zero and thirty.
A coordinator does not necessarily speak the language of the volunteer translators for that language. Janita, from Fiji, who lives in Australia, speaks English and coordinates Tagalog and Kiswahili volunteers.
In contrast, Lourdes (Lules) who had been translating into Spanish for the site for over a decade, also coordinates some Spanish volunteers, as well as Catalan, Portuguese, Rumanian and Basque (which she does not speak). Silke translates into French and German, and coordinates the French and German volunteers.
More importantly than keeping track of volunteers, not always an easy job, coordinators provide encouragement, praise, recognition and acknowledgement to the volunteers. This is a non profit organization with a budget of zero, so no one is paid money for their contributions. Volunteers, however, have need for such recognition, and the coordinators provide that, often with no one to provide the same for themselves.
Coordinators are given considerable autonomy in how they recruit volunteers, and how they provide support and encouragement to them. Roberto says, "I think the most challenging (and rewarding, incidently) part of the job is resolving the issues your volunteers have, which often involves you learning how to do things yourself in order to in turn instruct them. I think we definitely need people willing to step up to the challenge so it's important to mention it."
If you have a desire to try your hand at coordinating, send in a request for a job description. Language skills are not needed to coordinate language volunteers, and you do not have to be an artist to coordinate illustrators.
What you need is a positive attitude, a nurturing or supportive approach, tolerance and perseverance, a love of problem solving, and willingness and ability to be in email touch every day. We need coordinators for languages, power point production, illustrations and any other contributions to the site.