As a freelance translator, my opportunities for personal interaction (or even getting out of my office at all during the day) can be limited. While I appreciate the flexibility of the job and love the work I do, let’s be honest—it can get lonely! I also enjoy volunteering my time for people who are in need. This is why I decided to offer my time as a volunteer interpreter for Philadelphia VIP.
While my main business is translation, I have received training and had some experience as an interpreter as well. A course at the graduate level introduced me to the interpreting world and showed me what an amazing opportunity interpreters have to be the missing link in the chain of communication for so many individuals, so when I heard about Philly VIP’s need for volunteer interpreters, I jumped at the chance to work with them.
Philadelphia VIP is an organization that offers pro bono legal services to low-income Philly area clients. Volunteer attorneys aid the organization’s clients in a wide range of civil cases, and in some of these cases the attorneys need volunteer interpreters to assist with client-attorney communication for those with limited English proficiency. These volunteer interpreters are never asked to interpret in court.
Interpreters are assigned on a case-by-case basis, so I am working to facilitate communication between one attorney and one client as they work on and discuss the case. In my current case, I have had the opportunity to meet with the client and attorney both in person and over the phone, spending no more than one hour per week on the case. I have had the chance to enable communication as they deal with the client’s tax issues and try to sort through what kind of legal help he needs.
One of my favorite things about this experience has been the gratitude I sense from both the client and the lawyer. It’s very rewarding to hear both of them say that they don’t know what they would do without me, and it’s great to know that I’ve helped give someone peace of mind and a better future.
If you would like to learn more about volunteering as an interpreter for Philadelphia VIP, contact Rida Haq at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the volunteer enrollment form at https://phillyvip.org/content/language-access-volunteer-enrollment-form.