I wanted to be a translator from childhood.

In those times, when the very word ‘translator’ smelled somewhat decadent, unreal, almost fantastic, and was in no way associated with a serious and highly-required profession, I was fascinated by the sounds of a foreign language and my head span from the possibility of understanding others’ thoughts and conveying them to others. I wanted to be a translator when at the Translation Faculty of the Minsk Institute for Foreign Languages they only accepted (according to an unwritten rule) male entrants. A democratic wind broke into the prim office of the rector when he, having spoken with a timid provincial girl (gold medal, three diplomas in foreign languages and a steely stubbornness in her eyes), signed a note to the acceptance board to ‘Take her as an exception’.

More about Elena ...

Elena Harleman was born in Belarus. She completed secondary school with a gold medal. While studying in the senior classes at school she participated with success in the school Olympiads for French, Russian and Belarusian languages.

In 1991 she won first place in the Nesvizh Regional School Olympiad for Belarusian, second place in the Minsk Regional School Olympiad for Russian, and third in the Republic’s Olympiad for French. In 1990 she was rewarded for coming first in the Republic's Olympiad for French with a trip to France under the ‘Connaissance de la France’ programme. A series of essays by Elena on her trip were published in the ‘Chirvoni stsyag’ Nesvizh regional newspaper.

Elena is a graduate of the Translation Faculty of the Minsk State Linguistic University (French and English) and holds a diploma with distinction and an academic masters degree in humanities.

After graduation from higher education, Elena combined her translation work with full-time posts in non-governmental organisations and commercial corporations, including National Centre for Strategic Initiatives ‘East-West’ and IBM Ireland. In 1997-1999 she taught translation in the Department of Romance Languages of the Translation Faculty at the Minsk State Linguistic University. Since 2003 she has devoted herself completely to translation work.


Elena continually works to improve her qualifications and broaden her professional capabilities. Thus, in 1998-1999 she completed a placement at the European Commission, at the Bureau of Official Publications of the European Community, in Brussels, and over the last decade has studied Polish (‘Lingua Mundi’ Institute of Foreign Languages in Warsaw), Dutch (Regional Education Centre in Utrecht), Arabic (Centre for Arabic Culture at the Egyptian Embassy in Warsaw), and German (People's University of Bentheim District, Nordhorn, Germany). In 2008-2009 she completed courses for users of the Trados 2007 program at the advanced level of complexity in Utrecht. She received the ‘Translator’s Workbench Certificate – Level 3 Certification’. In July-August 2010 she took an advanced training course in French language and Belgian francophone literature at Brussels University (ULB). In 2016 Elena passed the United Nations Language Competitive Examination for Russian Translators and has been working since as an external Translator/Reviser for a number of international organizations including several UN Agencies. Elena is member of the Union of Translators of Russia.