At this year’s RID Conference, we discussed the topic of diversity. I don’t remember the numbers, but the point was that RID is comprised primarily of hearing, white women. There was a graphic that showed the demographics of the people we interpret for and, as you can imagine, that population isn’t composed proportionately of white women. The challenge was issued to diversify our field. How I interpreted the message wasn’t positive. I felt like people were being asked to find someone to replace them in the field, to stop working.
When I returned to Nebraska, neRID was contacted by Lina Kogan from Omaha. Lina is looking for help in being involved in her temple. Lina is Jewish and her ultimate desire is for someone of Jewish background to interpret the services she attends, as well as other temple members being able to converse with her in her language. She wants the same thing we want – access and community.
neRID also received a request from Vicki Steinhauer-Campbell. Vicki works for Nebraska VR in Lincoln. She expressed her need for more interpreters so that she can do her job. Again, a simple expectation that we all share – if we have a job, we want to be able to do that job.
I now understand what I heard at RID, or at least I see an opportunity. I can’t create more interpreters, especially someone with a specific skill set in interpreting for temple at a Jewish synagogue. But because RID introduced the topic, when the requests for help came, I was more predisposed to look for an answer. Alone, I can’t physically be there for these two situations, but by sharing this information, ideas and solutions may be generated, or perpetuated or, at least, maybe it just starts someone else thinking about what we can do.
So far, I have had two ideas. The first is going to job fairs to expose people to the field of interpreting. The second is that we have two clear cut cases where there isn’t enough interpreters in the field to meet the needs that exist. Maybe that thought alone is enough for someone(s) to become more active in keeping IWCC’s interpreter training program open.
My writing about these problems isn’t enough, but I don’t have to be the answer. As a community, we grow when we work together. These examples, along with others, are our opportunities. I encourage you to do what you can. I don’t know how to make my ideas happen, but maybe you or someone you know does.
If you would like to help Lina, you can contact Scott Littky at Temple Israel in Omaha at 402.556.6536.
If you would like to help Vicki, you can contact her at:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 402.261.2638
Please realize that this aren’t simply pleas for kind hearted volunteers. These are community requests for professional interpreters. It is a part of our DNA to improve the community in which we live.