Dialog Interpreting – A Big Challenge for Interpreters: Interpreting in NGOs

Una grande sfida per gli interpreti: interpretariato nelle ONG

Until a few years ago, interest in interpreting in NGOs had been quite limited. Traditionally, the official teachings in translation and interpretation have included only the health and legal-administrative fields. It was very easy to find articles that explored the difficulties and characteristics of these specialties, highlighting the importance of terminology in each of them and the need to know the judicial and health system. It seemed that interpretation in NGOs had no greater scope.

However, for some time now, there has been a theme that has carved out a significant space for itself among the interests of professionals in the interpreting sector: that of NGOs.

It is not strange that political asylum and refuge have become highly topical issues: the great migration crisis is affecting millions of people around the world. Therefore, interpreting in NGOs has become a very attractive career opportunity for professionals speaking some languages, such as Arabic, Russian, Ukrainian or Georgian.

Interpreting in NGOs

At International Congresses we have focused for some time on interpreting in NGOs to help hundreds of refugees who really need to be heard. It is not easy for an interpreter to lock himself in a room for an hour or two to listen and repeat harrowing and extremely painful stories, but not doing so would be looking the other way. If there is someone who needs a voice that knows how to listen and understand him, that someone is precisely who is experiencing situations of extreme difficulty.

The interest in interpreting in NGOs has developed gradually and discreetly, but is already very present. Many organizations such as Open Arms have their own interpreters, who are sometimes dispatched to points of entry into the country, such as airports or borders, to ensure refugees are aware of their rights and receive initial support in an unfamiliar country.

As interpreters, our job is to lend our voice to ensure communication between two interlocutors who, due to language barriers, could not understand each other in any other way. This means that we, as people, must remain in the background, our body language must be discreet and our voice, which will be the center of everything, clear and professional.

How interpreting works in NGOs

However, in practice, things are not that simple. The work of interpreters is fundamental in the reception process, both for workers and for the refugees themselves. But it is difficult to remain indifferent to dramatic human events and not get emotionally involved.

In this context it is very easy to forget our professional role. This is a mistake, since even the social worker is in a very delicate position and can feel excluded from a communication process of which he is an active and primordial part. That is why neutrality is a very valuable resource in NGO interpretation and as professionals we must take it into account at all times.

International congresses and interpreting in NGOs


In International Congresses we have perfected our training to prepare our interpreters to work with NGOs. Nothing is left to chance: we evaluate all the difficulties, trying to ensure that our interpreters can compensate for the shortcomings of the official teachings. We have done this with all those organizations that understand that it is vitally important for refugees to be able to express themselves firsthand. In International Congresses we provide them with an interpreting service in NGOs, both face-to-face and by telephone, so that they always feel supported.

We want to break down borders, whatever they may be, and we will always support anyone who needs us to lend our voice to them with our work.

Marketing Team International Congresses

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