In the Protecting Urban Refugees through Empowerment (PURE) project, young refugees can join vocational training classes to help prepare themselves for independence after they leave group living and CWS direct care and protection. One class offered now is designed to help students learn to be skilled interpreters for other refugees. Usually, refugees reach Indonesia without knowing Indonesian or English, so interpreters are often called to help during hospital and clinic visits. So, the interpreting course is offered as a service to all refugees and, in some cases, it can help jump-start “careers”.
Afshin, who is from Afghanistan, is a great example of a young man taking a first step toward a hopeful future. Recently he told us, “My English is good, and I can understand some Indonesian as well. Since I will most likely stay in Indonesia for some time to come, I want to become an interpreter so I can help my community, especially when people need health care in clinics” [where, often, staff speak English].
Afshin’s “How to Become an Interpreter” basic class was facilitated by colleagues from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It covered these topics: different types of interpreting; the role of an interpreter; and, interpreting demeanor and protocols. Understanding these things helps students know how to behave professionally and respectfully to facilitate positive interactions and clear understanding. The final exam for the class was for each student to play the role of an interpreter helping another roleplaying peers. All 10 students did well and earned a Certificate of Completion. Although it is no guarantee of a job, the class laid a foundation for those who decide to apply for the UNHCR official interpreter training course.
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