The cultural context in interpreting sessions

  • 04/03/2019
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  • Admin

We’re holistic. We don’t just translate words;  we explain the cultural context.  We save statutory services time and money, by making sure they are better understood.

Duncan Campbell from the National Youth Advocacy Service had this to say about a recent session;

“We met in a room with a large table.  We had no option other than to use the table.  The 2 young people were on the other side. Mebrak sat next to me.  And I spoke directly to the young people, Mebrak would then translate. She would tell me what they had said.  All the time I was able to engage the young people.  With Mebrak and me almost being part of the same entity.  It worked well.

“On a few occasions Mebrak would say, “That is quite difficult to interpret.  Can you say it in another way?”

"And that was very useful.  And that was when we got to the idea of ‘complaint’ because these 2 young people wanted to talk about what had happened to them.  In my context it sounded like the sort of thing I would want to complain about. 

But to them it meant something entirely different. Mebrak explained to me that I would need to rephrase the whole thing otherwise they would assume they would be in for a big bout of legal stuff with courts and that sort of thing."

"It was just what was necessary have someone there to say, “Actually that is something that doesn’t translate very well.”

"She has an enormous cultural intelligence and awareness. We’re here to try and understand from 2 people what it is that they have experienced and what they want to do about it."

This is just one illustration of how we here at Vandu demonstrate value and are pleased to help people like Duncan in the course of their work. Making sure that everyone is clear about outcomes, explaining the UK system in ways that everyone can comprehend is our purpose.


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