“There is no difference – all are students”

Maria Petrocheilou,

Conference interpreter – Trainer in the Future Interpreters program

Through the slogan “we train tomorrow’s interpreters … today“, SolidarityNow started in May 2017 the innovative training program entitled Future Interpreters for Community Interpreters. The pro bono lessons, including training sessions in which participants were taught key practices and methodologies of community interpretation and intercultural mediation, were held for the 105 students at the organization’s Solidarity Centers in Athens and Thessaloniki.

Many people worked for this program – teachers, interpreters, people of the organization of various professional specialties. Still, this specialized training program required mainly the appropriate teachers-trainers; people with knowledge in the field and capable of passing on their knowledge to the participants, who were people from different parts of the world – refugees, migrants, asylum seekers – living in Greece.

One of them is Maria Petrochilou. Her profession is conference interpreter and speaks four languages – English, Italian, French, German. We ask about her experience in the Future Interpreters program with so many students from different countries, cultures, habits and she respond eagerly that there is no difference to me – they are all students regardless of where they come from and what color their skin has“.

Maria has the knowledge and experience required to teach in this group of students after working for the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. In addition, her educational past includes studies in Athens, Trieste, Berlin, Geneva and interaction with people from all over the world.

She is aware of the increased sensitivity that an interpreter and intercultural mediator needs to have and get training for, so as to maintain his self-possession and integrity when interacting with vulnerable population groups. At the same time, however, the participants were trained to respond effectively while working under pressure and in need for immediate results. The principles of her teaching are based on the rigorous code of ethics regarding respect for human rights.

Today, when she thinks all these hours of teaching, the stories of the participants, the happy moments they have shared, she is very pleased to have been their teacher and is glad to learn that the knowledge shared with them will help them in finding a job as well in their personal development. Civil society needs people like Maria, since it is supported by and on them.

SolidarityNow implemented the Future Interpreters program, with the support of the Guerrilla Foundation and in collaboration with the Society for the Care of Minors and the PanHellenic Association of Professional Translators Graduates of the Ionian University.