Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

Putting the tee into translation

MA (Hons) Arabic and French student, Emma Penney, talks about the student-run charity SolidariTee and how translating for refugees has helped shape her future.

SolidariTee is the largest entirely student-run charity supporting the international assistance of refugees and asylum seekers.

With 40 teams across the globe, it has mobilised over 700 student volunteers working towards a sustainable solution to the refugee crisis, largely by grant-funding organisations to provide legal aid on the ground across Europe.

Fourth year student, Emma Penney, first got involved in SolidariTee when she met the founder, Tiara Sahar Ataii, in Jordan during her year abroad. The charity has since provided Emma - its Head Rep at the University of Edinburgh - with the perfect opportunity to develop the translation skills she's learned studying Arabic and French here, as well as business skills through the sale of ethically-made t-shirts and graphics.

Reflecting on her decision to get involved, Emma says: "I realised how important a sustainable solution to the crisis is. I just felt like SolidariTee was the best way to do that. It was something that I could do alongside my studies as well." 

Video: SolidariTee: Translating for the largest student-run charity
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Using language skills to make the world a better place

"As a student of Arabic and French, [SolidariTee] has helped me recognise that there's real potential for me to use my language skills to make the world a better place", continues Emma.

"Lots of refugees are Arabic and French speakers, so I can help. It has given me more ideas of career options as I finish university."

"SolidariTee funds two organisations at the moment in Greece, so I have decided that after I graduate that I'm going to go out and spend some time there interpreting. It has given me a way of practicing my languages alongside my degree and also being able to make tangible change in the world. It means a lot to me."

"The biggest thing I've learnt through SolidariTee is that as a student it's very easy to feel overwhelmed by everything that is going on. Through organisations like SolidariTee, students can affect change and make the world a better place."

Want to get involved? 

Since 2017, over 20,000 SolidariTees have been sold. The charity's £10 t-shirts are a visual demonstration of solidarity with refugees. SolidariTee post shirts from their online shop in recycled wrapping paper. A volunteer translator on the ground in Thessaloniki sees 30 to 40 asylum seekers a day – by purchasing one of their tees, you can fund two volunteer translators’ food and accommodation for a day.

Are you a student currently looking to lend your time to helping refugees? Look no further! SolidariTee have a number of roles available suited to everyone’s busy calendars. None of their roles require prior experience. All they require is dedication, hard work, and responsiveness. 

View positions on the SolidariTee website

I want to purchase a SolidariTee!

Are you interested in studying with us? 

As global dynamics shift, an appreciation of diverse languages, literatures and cultures becomes ever more relevant, critical and sought after. We offer one of the widest range of languages of any UK university, from Chinese to Scottish Gaelic. We teach all six official languages of the United Nations, and eight of the languages of the European Union.

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