After Part I of my article, I left you wondering what might be the link between the Course held by the University of Glasgow entitled “INTERPRETING FOR REFUGEES: CONTEXTS, PRACTICES AND ETHICS” and my volunteer position within EMERGENCY.
Here I am with some more knowledge learnt during the 12-hour Course and the link with EMERGENCY.
IDIOMS OF DISTRESS
An extremely interesting part of the Course was the one dedicated to the Idioms of distress, used to describe both physical and emotional pain:
“Intense pain is also language-destroying: as the content of one’s world disintegrates, so the content of one’s language disintegrates; as the self disintegrates, so that which would express and project the self is robbed of its source and its subject. World, self, and voice are lost, or nearly lost […]. (Scarry, 1985: 34)”ù
REMOTE INTERPRETING IN COURT
Remote Interpreting is used when the person who’s in immigration detention (in the detention centre during the procedure) takes part in the process for bail hearings by video link (as part of the digitization of courts, which I guess has even increased in the presence of Covid-19). The quality of audio, video and Internet connection is often poor and as a result the participation of every party is hindered, and communication is lacking.
Finally, there was also a week dedicated to discussion of interpreters’ wellbeing, as interpreting in refugee contexts can be extremely challenging. “Interpreters might feel depressed, frequently irritable, anxious, and stressed. They may suffer from vicarious trauma and burn-out as a result.”
EMERGENCY IS LOOKING FOR CULTURAL MEDIATORS: WHAT IS THIS PROFESSIONAL FIGURE?
According to the paper “Interpreters and Cultural Mediators – different but complementary roles” by Mayte C. Martín and Mary Phelan (Dublin City University), “Cultural mediation is required when lack of cultural awareness and understanding of the system is the main impediment for the migrant population to access and benefit from health services” and “Cultural mediators facilitate a constructive relationship between healthcare professional and the healthcare user as well as fostering mutual understanding and intercultural competence.” “It is the authors’ opinion that cultural mediation should not be considered an alternative to interpreting […]. Interpreting and cultural mediation should be availed of in a complementary manner.” “Because interpreters cannot get involved in cases, there may be some situations where patients need extra help in order to access services. We believe that this help should be provided by cultural mediators.”
WHO KNOWS, ONE DAY, I MIGHT BE WORKING AGAIN FOR EMERGENCY
I worked for EMERGENCY as an interpreter on occasion of their National Meeting in 2017 in Catania, which presented the actions in Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Sudan, Italy and Uganda and explained in a very transparent way their balance sheet and forecasts on fund collection, communication campaigns and social commitment activities.
At different points in time I browsed their Work With Us Page to see if they needed an interpreter and I always appreciated the fact that they were willing to hire Cultural Mediators with a Contract and not accept them as volunteers: to me this has always been a sign of reliability and respect towards the profession.
After following the course, I took comfort in reading that the Job Description of Cultural Mediator for Search and Rescue Operations contained exactly these types of requests, showing professionalism and the attention they paid both to duties and responsibilities.
Unfortunately, the required languages are English, French and Arabic and this puts me out of the race.
But I’m proud to have taken this journey towards increasing my awareness and creating more solid knowledge in view of any potential demanding interpreting assignment.