We’re expanding in China 

Last week, we ran our first Marco Polo translation salon in Nanjing. Twenty five translators gathered at the Banpocun Cafe on Qingdao Lu for three and a half hours of collaborative translation – together translating over 5000 characters. This event was held in collaboration with the Nanjing University Graduate Student English Club and the Australia China Youth Association. Participants were very pleased with their experience, and we’ve been invited to run future similar events by other local student clubs.

We’re also building new collaborations with Chinese web-organisations. We presented our project at the Shanghai Makers’ Carnival, and as a result, we’re now regularly working out of the Nanjing Makers’ Space. These contacts and co-working opportunities are precious for us to better understand the Chinese digital space, and better engage our multilingual online community. As a first step, we’re now active on weibo, and we’ll soon start our own weixin account. So follow us now – and join the conversation!

Multicultural Commission Grant

We’re pleased and honoured to announce that the Victorian Multicultural Commission awarded us an organisational support grant to run a series of workshops next year in Melbourne. We wish to warmly thank the Victorian government for their support, and all those who helped us along the way.

This grant not only shows recognition of the value we bring to Chinese learners and speakers, it also marks the growing importance of offline events to our overall mission. We’re currently developing a complete ‘event organisation pack’, allowing interested language organisations or language exchange groups to run their own translation events, using our website and contents as a base. If you would like to run your own Marco Polo translation marathon, or anyone around you would, please contact us at info@marcopoloproject.org

The Marco Polo Project is a living community. Without you, we do not exist. Now we need your help to grow. So that a larger audience can learn about us, please talk about the Marco Polo Project around you, send a link to your friends, or share our translations on Facebook, Twitter, Weixin or Weibo.

We are also looking for donations and sponsorships, to support further web development. If you think you can help, please contact us.

Douban.comlaunched on March 6, 2005, is a Chinese social networking website allowing registered users to create content related to cultural life in Chinese cities. Some Chinese authors and critics also register their official personal pages on the site.

Douban registered users are mostly young urban Chinese people who go to the platform for ratings and reviews of books/movies or music or join movements and discussion boards, and it gives a direct insight into emerging trends in urban China. Articles we select from Douban tend to be more personal and meditative than those from other sources.

Key writers from Douban include: Wei Zhou, Jiong Jiong and Lan Ran.

Readers and users often ask us where we source our texts. So we thought it was time we prepared a short series of posts about our sources.

Our first go-to website is My1510.This online platform created by Chinese TV journalist Rose LuQiu LuWei brings together articles written by different Chinese writers and bloggers. Some of the pieces published here are shared from traditional media, while some are original blog posts; some writers are recognised intellectuals others emerging citizen bloggers. Topics range from politics, society and cultural analysis to more personal reflections on contemporary Chinese life.

The platform was developed around one core vision: to provide independent opinions and valuable information. My1510 bridges the gap between news from traditional media channels and opinions from citizen bloggers, striving to be a platform that provides valuable information for its readers.

Our key authors all publish on My1510. Among them, you may wish to look at the works of Li Yehang (religion), Zhang Tianpan (cultural analysis and social enterprise), Cui Weiping (film criticism and historical reflection), Yu Yiwei (everyday life and commentary), or Feng Qingyang (economy).

Last week-end, we ran our first event in China, at the Banpocun Cafe, 32 Qingdao Lu, Nanjing. This event was a partnership with the Nanjing University Graduate Students English Club and ACYA Nanjing. It brought together over 25 participants who, together, translated over 5000 characters during the evening.


Running translation events has become a growing part of our organisation’s strategy. Our website offers a base for mutual language exchange among native Mandarin learners and English learners – or allows native Chinese speakers to practice their English writing skills. These events are also the opportunity for participants to gain confidence in their own linguistic capacity, and learn to define and elaborate meaning in a collaborative fashion.


Last week, we were amazed at the speed and efficiency with which those coming formed into teams and interacted to find the best word or structure: more than translation training, these workshops build up participants’ awareness and skills in the collective negotiation of meaning.

Have you heard of RSAnimates? These short videos presenting an idea or project through quick drawings and a voice over… Check this one out – and pass it on to your friends if they’re ever asking ‘what’s this Marco Polo Project you’re always talking about’.

Thanks to the fabulous Glenn Stephenson for this video – Ron Killeen @ Shack West who mastered the sound – and Karen Pickering for the voice over.

If you’ve come to our website before but got confused about how to use it, or if one of your friends would like some guidance in their first steps with us, our team put together three short videos explaining core features to new-comers: register, find a text, translate.

Please, let us know if you find them clear enough, and whether we should make more! Hey, we’re working on a Chinese version too.


Find a text


Join the translation race on August 14!

We’re holding our first ‘all-you-can-translate’ event at the York Butter Factory, 62-66 King Street, Melbourne, on August 14th: a 2h30 Chinese to English translation race, featuring live and twitter collaboration, followed by drinks and food.

This event is part of our growing interest in developing offline events that offer  our website users – and indeed all China-geeks and aspiring translators – an opportunity to meet others like them, build up their language skills in a fun alternative way, and bring new Chinese voices to Western readers.

To register for the night, click here – or watch this video to learn more.

Thank you DFAT for supporting the first Aus-China Digital Lit Fest

In 2014, Marco Polo Project will run the first Australia-China Festival of Digital Literature. This event will present an exceptional opportunity to reflect on changes in the practice of reading, writing and publishing brought about by the development of a digital space. More broadly, it will allow Australian and Chinese online readers and writers to meet and learn about each other.

We will select three writers from each country –  balancing citizen journalists and fan-fiction enthusiasts with trans-media practitioners and twitter poets –  translate a selection of their work, and facilitate discussion among them and with a bilingual public through digital forums and a conference panel.

Bookmark your calendar: tentative dates for this festival are June 2014 for the launch of our collaborative translation process, and August 2014 for online and panel discussions.

We wish to thank our partners and supporters for this project, whose trust in our organisation have made our grant application successful, and whose support will make this project a success: the Wheeler Centre for Books and Ideas, Bookworm, Danwei, yeeyan.org, La Trobe’s Centre for Creative Arts, the Melbourne Writers Festival, the Emerging Writers Festival, Language Connection, Asialink, AALITRA and LCNAU. And DFAT for their support: we’re honoured to announce here that this project is supported by the Commonwealth Government through the Australia-China Council of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Marco Polo Project is a living online community. Without you, we do not exist. Now we need your help to grow. So that a larger audience can learn about us, please talk about the Marco Polo Project around you, send a link to your friends, or share our translations on Facebook, Twitter, Renren or Weibo.

We are also looking for donations and sponsorships, to support further web development. If you think you can help, please contact us.

Have you ever wondered what Marco Polo Project achieved in its first year online? Or would you like to share the awesomeness of our initiative with your friends at one glance? The amazing Glenn Stephenson put together this infographics for us – please share it around! Infographics

On the 14th of August, we’ll be holding our first all-you-can-translate event at to the York Butter Factory in Melbourne!

We’re gathering emerging translators and language learners for an evening of Chinese-English translation, followed by some food and drinks.

This is an opportunity to

  • practice translation in a stimulating setting
  • meet other China-geeks and language enthusiasts
  • help us bring more Chinese voices to the world.

There will be prizes for the most active and the most collaborative participants, and there will be time to discuss around a glass. So come along, and bring your friends!