Wednesday, December 31, 2014

interpreting for peace in a conflict zone

The University of Geneva's interpreting department has a fabulous sounding program called InZone, the Center for Interpreting in Conflict Zones.

As Barbara Moser-Mercer writes, in her blog about teaching interpreters at the world's largest refugee camp (in Somalia):

"Imagine your job is to deliver humanitarian aid to a single refugee camp where your recipients speak Dinka (from South central Sudan), Moro or Tira (from the Nuba mountain region), or TigrĂ© or Tigrinya (from Eritrea), and you don’t speak these languages…
Or, imagine you are tasked with resolving legacies of human rights abuses and implementing transitional justice mechanisms, but you do not know how to communicate with the locals speaking in Pashto or Urdu.

For many professionals and volunteers delivering aid to conflict zones, these are very real challenges that must be faced with bravery and empathy. When conflict erupts in regions whose languages few outsiders master, humanitarian aid workers must rely on local interpreters, who often have very limited training.

This is why InZone, the Center for Interpreting in Conflict Zones at the University of Geneva, exists. Our mission is to provide blended training to interpreters in conflict zones. We work on the ground in refugee camps to help interpreters enhance their skills in interpreting, managing the refugee interview process and dealing with the challenges of communication in times of distress.

We have learned that while the barriers to education can be immense (from security threats to limited internet access), there is extraordinary motivation among refugees to learn – for many victims of conflict, knowledge is their only possession and the only hope of improving their livelihoods. ...."

(Thanks to my geography colleague Virginie Mamadouh for pointing me to this.)