Living in the U.S. with limited knowledge of the people, social norms and laws is immensely challenging. The additional barrier of being unable to communicate with co-workers, doctors, teachers and landlords can make the process of integrating into one's community all the more difficult.
Many refugees and asylees resettled by the IRC in Silver Spring have limited to no English language proficiency. For this reason, the IRC in Silver Spring has a team dedicated to providing comprehensive interpretation services, including in-person and virtual interpretation, and translation for languages including Dari, Pashto, Ukrainian, Spanish, Arabic, French and many more, given the diverse needs of clients.
One interpreter working with the IRC in Silver Spring and Baltimore, Artem Kulyk, interprets for Ukrainian, Russian, and Spanish speakers, having lived abroad in Argentina and Russia where he was able to practice his language skills. Being a Ukraine native and given the recent invasion of Ukraine, Artem heard about the IRC’s resettlement efforts for Ukrainian humanitarian parolees (UHP) and felt eager to take on the opportunity to assist via interpretation services with the IRC.
Artem's time spent interpreting is based on the needs of clients and the services made available by the IRC in Silver Spring; in any given week, Artem will interpret orientations in the IRC’s offices for youth services, cash assistance, cultural orientation, case management and employment services programs. In addition to the in-person orientations, Artem also interprets via phone calls for new client intakes, client/caseworker follow-ups and more in his day to day.
Through the efforts of Artem and other interpreters, clients feel heard and understood through a shared language. In the long term, this enables clients to feel more comfortable navigating a new environment and confident that they will be provided the services they need. One client, a native Pashto-speaker that came to the U.S. from Afghanistan in August 2022 with no prior English language education, says he appreciates the clarity and kindness that he receives from the IRC’s interpreters. He describes that interpreters support him when he goes to medical clinics for checkups, when he goes to the IRC office in person and when he speaks with his caseworker.