E. Anna Szegedi discovered fandom years before she even knew what the word meant. She wrote her first fanfic (for Heroes of Might and Magic III) in pencil on printer paper at age eight. Her first venture into online fandom was through a small forum dedicated to Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus trilogy, which was also where she published her first multi-chapter fanfiction. Discovering English forums and fansites motivated her to learn English, and reading (and writing) fanfiction in English fueled her love for languages.
She joined the OTW Translation committee in 2017. As an avid user of AO3, Anna was excited to help make the OTW’s projects more accessible to those who didn’t speak English. Later, she became a volunteer manager for the committee, working to train and support Translation volunteers in their tasks.
Anna holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and American Philology and a Master’s degree in Translation and Interpretation. She works in the administration department of a university, being responsible for handling admissions and day-to-day support for international students.
1. Why did you decide to run for election to the Board?
Fandom has played an important role in my life since the day I learned to read well enough to tackle books on my own. As countless other people out there, it has been my support and escape when I needed to get away from real life for a bit. I believe that the work the OTW does is vital to fandom, and while my time with the Translation committee has been deeply rewarding, I am now in a position in which I am able to do more to contribute to the community. I want to give back to all the amazing creators who kept me going through difficult times, and I believe that the best way to do that is working with the OTW Board.
2. What skills and/or experience would you bring to the Board?
Through my job in the administration of university where half of the student body is international, I’ve had the opportunity to work with teenagers and young adults from a wide range of social and cultural backgrounds on a daily basis. I help them handle all sorts of matters – from immigration and finding accommodations to more everyday things like buying tickets to shows and translating official letters. My job requires empathy and understanding in order to navigate a heavily multicultural environment, which will be helpful on the Board of an international organisation.
I feel like my time in the OTW, both as a Translation volunteer and later as a volunteer manager, has taught me important communication and management skills. I have a good eye for small detail, and it is a skill that has helped me in my tasks here in the OTW and in real life as well.
3. Choose one or two goals for the OTW that are important to you and that you would be interested in working on during your term. Why do you value these goals? How would you work with others to achieve them?
Making OTW projects available in as many languages as possible is the goal I feel most connected to. I do remember painstakingly translating Sailor Moon wiki pages for myself as a teenager, because there was very little content in my language. I hope to be able to help people who aren’t fluent in English use and engage with OTW projects more easily. It’s also important that our projects are accessible to those with visual impairments or any other disability that might affect their online experience. For example, adding captions to pictures helps people using screen readers; it’s a small detail, but still incredibly important.
The preservation of fanworks is another important aspect of the OTW’s work. The Bartimaeus trilogy forum where I published my first fanworks is no longer online, which means that the works stored there are most likely lost. Providing a way to import such forums to the AO3 means that a small slice of fandom gets to live on, even if the people who created the original platform for it are moving on.
4. What is your experience with the OTW’s projects and how would you collaborate with the relevant committees to support and strengthen them? Try to include a range of projects, though feel free to emphasize particular ones you have experience with.
Through Translation, I had the opportunity to collaborate with other projects in multiple ways. I have translated AO3 tags for Tag Wrangling and helped Policy & Abuse and Support correspond with AO3 users who aren’t fluent in English. I know that making the Archive’s interface available in languages other than English is a step we can’t yet take, but in the meantime, we can work on making the life of non-English speaking users easier.
As a Board member, I would strive to learn about the needs of all committees in order to be able to support them to the best of my abilities. I believe that we never truly stop learning, and I would like to take this opportunity to both broaden my own skill scope, and to use my newfound knowledge in the interest of others.
5. How would you balance your Board work with other roles in the OTW, or how do you plan to hand over your current roles to focus on Board work?
Currently, my only role in the OTW is that of a Translation volunteer manager, and I believe the amount of free time I have to be sufficient for another role. Thankfully, my day job is flexible enough that I have time for my OTW duties. I am also very much of a night owl, and have no problem with working late, if it is something I care about. And the OTW is exactly that – something I care deeply about, something I think is worth every minute working for.