Translit helps Ukrainian refugees become trained community interpreters

Translit, an Ireland-based language service provider (LSP), has helped nearly 40 Ukrainian refugees in County Clare learn the ins and outs of community interpreting.

In collaboration with the Clare Local Development Company (CLDC) and the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP), Translit has provided community interpreter training for 37 Ukrainian refugees who were previously providing informal language services to fellow Ukrainians in Ireland.

“Being a language service provider, we could see that the demand for Ukrainian and Russian community interpreters skyrocketed within a few days of the arrival of the first refugees into Ireland in March,” said Alex Chernenko, CEO and founder of Translit.

Since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, roughly 40,000 Ukrainian refugees have settled in Ireland. According to Chernenko, Ireland was not well-prepared for the influx of Ukrainian-speaking refugees — at least on the language services front. He noted that the Irish Translators’ and Interpreters’ Association has a fairly small number of registered interpreters working in Russian and even fewer working in Ukrainian.

Translit has worked to provide language access to Ukrainian refugees since the invasion began earlier this year. When refugees first began entering the country, Chernenko said Translit internally discussed ways to train and support the refugees who acted as volunteer interpreters within their community. When the CLDC approached Translit about training refugees in community interpreting, Chernenko was “delighted” to help.

So far, 37 Ukrainian refugees have completed Translit’s six-hour training session, which covers topics such as ethical interpreting, basic interpreting skills, and dealing with vicarious trauma, among others. Anna Onyschenko, one of the community interpreters who attended the training session said she’s now able to provide language services to fellow Ukrainian refugees with an air of professionalism. She’s been interpreting in healthcare clinics and hopes to find a stable interpreting job in a more populous locale.

“I am using my newly obtained skills to carry out interpreting for Intreo (the Public Employment Service) for the Ukrainians in Lisdoonvarna,” Onyschenko said. “I hope to move to a bigger town where I can find more interpreting jobs and feel more solid.”

Chernenko also said Translit is currently in talks with a “major international migration organization” to adapt its training program for even more volunteer interpreters. He hopes more agencies and local authorities get on board so Translit can reach more refugees and help them hone their interpreting skills. 

“At Translit our mission was always to help people communicate and promote understanding,” Chernenko said. “Aligning ourselves with local organizations in Ireland is another huge step in the right direction.”

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Andrew Warner
Andrew Warner is a writer from Sacramento. He received his B.A. in linguistics and English from UCLA and is currently working toward an M.A. in applied linguistics at Columbia University. His writing has been published in Language Magazine, Sactown Magazine, and The Takeout.

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