Migrant context: Yoon-Hwa Choi

Translating the migrant’s experience of rural Australia

Over the past month, Jessica Trevitt has been working with Yoon-Hwa, a recent Australian migrant from South Korea. Since moving here with her partner Kyu, Yoon-Hwa has spent 6 months  learning upper-intermediate English in Melbourne, and has spent the last three months working in a meat factory in rural South Australia to obtain her second visa.

yoon-hwa
Yoon-Hwa Choi

She and Kyu have found the move from Melbourne to a small country town eye-opening, and Yoon-Hwa has written a series of five short stories in her native Korean to document the experience. In the first story, Yoon-Hwa relates her first impressions of the town, including her encounter with a white kangaroo, her exploration of the local supermarkets, and her meeting with a fellow Korean migrant in their new apartment. In the subsequent stories she describes her experiences at the factory and how they have learned to adjust to an intensive work life in an isolated town.

For one hour a week over the last five weeks, Jessica and Yoon-Hwa have collaborated via Skype to translate the first story into English. For Yoon-Hwa, this experience of collaborative translation has been a significant source of support in her learning of English and her development of conversational technique, as it has given her regular speaking practice during a time when she is unable to attend classes in Melbourne. For Jessica, the process has given  significant insight into how target language revisions reflect the authorial style and voice of the source language author; together, they have worked to capture Yoon-Hwa’s frankness and her eye for narrative detail, producing an English text with a distinctly literary tone.

Over the course of the next few months, while Yoon-Hwa finishes her contract at the factory, they will continue to translate each of her stories. Ultimately they hope to have them published as a rare testament to migrant experience in the rural Australian environment.