Tahirou Samaila-2013 Recipient

Tahirou 150x150Tahirou Samaila

Major: Linguistics of the Islamic World
Degree: M.A.
School:New York University
Sponsor: ISF


My name is Tahirou Samaila Sidikou. I am a Master’s in Translations candidate at New York University. I am an alumnus of the Fulbright Scholarship Program and the founder of Corporalingua Translations and www.corporalingua.com, a small freelance translation solo proprietorship.  My language pair in Translations is French-English but I speak five languages, four of which I speak fluently.

I was born in Niger, one of the poorest countries in Africa. As a Muslim child, I quickly learned to be grateful for what I have, while working harder and harder everyday in order to improve the living conditions of my family and my community. Where I grew up, only 5% of the population has a college education. In my large family of 25 members, I am the only one to have a college degree. As of today, most children in Niger have no access to schools, medical care or clean water. All my life, I was saddened by the conditions in which my community, including myself was living. In Niger, higher education is a luxury that belongs to a very lucky few. I am grateful to be among those. Against all odds, with hard work, prayers and perseverance, I was able to graduate from high school, and went to college. Three years into college, I was selected by the U.S embassy in Niger to participate in the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship Program in the United States.

Before coming to the United States as an exchange student, I taught multiple language learning classes in my neighborhood. I taught English, French, and basic Arabic, but also taught reading and writing. My goal was to share what I have learned with children and adults who crave for knowledge but did not have a chance to get primary education. Despite the harsh conditions, I found comfort in learning and sharing. I read every type of literature I can find in a country where only few cities have libraries, and where everyone goes to the same library in the only public university of the nation. But, I refuse to let myself into fall into despair. I kept my hopes and standards high, and worked towards a better life.

My awareness of the importance of education in achieving a lasting change in the life of every community is what kept me going. I became very competitive, both in class and at work in order to highly represent a community in which most have lost hope, in order to grow personally, to be inspired by the few people who have succeeded while being an inspiration for those who are looking for a way out of poverty. My mother and father taught me the values of kindness, generosity and patience with the instruction that if I live by them, I will succeed. I applied those values to my life. I am grateful to God for guiding me, and I pray that he guides me further in achieving my goals.

I like to share what I know, what I value, and defend what I believe in, while keeping a positive image that represents a Muslim. I believe that through our good actions in the community, we can cure the plague of stereotype that is tarnishing the image of Islam and Muslims in America. As a former agency Journalist in a French speaking country, I love politics and political talks. I keep myself informed on current news and trends and always welcome a chance to teach and share, through speeches, presentations and volunteer work.

I have been a freelance Translator since 2009. I am looking for a lifetime career in the Language Industry because it allows me to use all my experience of international languages while providing culturally adequate translations and communication strategies. My ultimate goal is to grow Corporalingua Translations and make of it a place where translators, localizers, and communication strategists will not only make a living but also have careers worthy of their trainings. I want to create jobs for linguists and other bilingual professionals. However, though my mind is set for business, I will continue my education to obtain a Doctorate degree in Translation Research and Instructional Pedagogy available at the University of New York in Binghamton. That will help me fulfill my fundamental mission of teaching and sharing.

Finally, as a linguist, I believe that communication is the key to any type of conflict resolution. Language has been and will always be the most effective medium through which the symbiosis of cultures and people is possible. Linguistic misinterpretations can lead to hurtful prejudices, diplomatic drama and xenophobia, and can damage relationships between people and nations. That is why translators play an important role in the modern globalized world. The Muslim translators by the same token can play an important role in assuring that the message of Islam and the culture of its people are not “lost in translation”.

Tahirou graduated in 2014. He is earning his Ph.D from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Administration and Leadership Studies, Non-Profit and Public Sector. He also works for the United States Department of Defense as a Federal Language Consultant.

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