Zainab arrived almost one year ago as a refugee from Iraq. She is a mother, an engineer and now a trained community interpreter, thanks to the IRC in Baltimore’s community interpreter training. Amal hopes to provide interpretation to those in need in the community and build a meaningful career out of doing so.
“Interpreter, please,” is one phrase that everyone going through Cultural Orientation at the International Rescue Committee learns to say clearly. Inability to communicate well or smoothly is perhaps the most frequently cited difficulty refugees have when attempting to integrate into their new home in Baltimore. The IRC in Baltimore completed its second professional training program for interpreters on May 24th.
Yadu Baskota, IRC’s in-house licensed community interpreter trainer, and Sara Bedford, Cultural Orientation Coordinator, trained 20 bilingual individuals to interpret professionally in social services, the medical and education fields. They succeeded in a grueling, five-day training, including hours of role plays, debates about their ethical responsibilities, and a three-hour exam to cap the training. These new interpreters are now equipped to serve refugees and asylees with in-person interpretation within the Baltimore Resettlement Center.
The 20 interpreters were selected from a pool of 43 applicants to participate in IRC’s free 40-hour intensive training program. Nineteen of the participants are former or current refugee or asylee clients of the IRC. The individuals chosen are a picture of the world – from Ethiopia, Mali, Bhutan, Burma, Colombia, and Kenya – just to name a few – and speak a total of 23 languages.
These 20 interpreters are qualified to go outside of our doors and make sure those who need interpreters in Baltimore have skilled individuals assisting them. With a growing immigrant population in Baltimore, many of these new interpreters, including Amal, will find gainful employment providing such a crucial service.
The result of our clients quietly asking for language assistance, “Interpreter, please,” can now be more fully addressed by IRC’s own well-trained interpreters.