A connected community without language barriers

Interview with Soman: Participant in the Australian Red Cross and NAATI Credentialing Program Pilot

Soman was a participant in the NAATI and Australian Red Cross Credentialing Program Pilot. She came to Australia as a refugee from Aghanistan in 2021. She is a Recognised Practising Interpreter in Dari and English.

I came to Australia in September 2021 as a refugee through the evacuation program from Afghanistan. I was working as an interpreter in Afghanistan with journalists and also translating for Witness Change, the program works across countries like Greece, Germany and Sweden. Through this program,  I would translate Afghan and Iranian refugees’ stories into English. Beside the fact that I enjoyed translating their stories, it was an informative experience to me and I learned a lot about the life of refugees and the hardships that they go through. Later on when I came to Australia, my case manager asked if I am interested to participate in NAATI pilot program and she referred me to the program. I took some tests and I was in the program. I was also very excited to hear that I have received one of the highest scores in the screening test.

I am now a Recognised Practising Interpreter, and I have three more tests coming up in early 2023 to become a Certified Translator. I am keen to start working as an interpreter or translator but need the certification.

What do you love most about interpreting and taking on these roles in the community?

It might seem cliché but I enjoy helping people. I was once in a clinic in Dandenong, and I saw someone at reception who didn’t know the language, and the receptionist asked if anyone know this language and can help this client, so I put my hand up. She [the client] was happy that someone could understand her and I was happy because I was able to help her.

In terms of translating, I enjoyed my work because I could provide an accurate translation of people’s stories and struggles and make sure they are heard by people in different parts of the world. The fact that my translation could make a difference in the lives of refugees was heart-warming to me. I am passionate about creating change. I was translating one of the stories from an Afghan refugee in Greece who stated that when they go to different areas in Greece and see that people don’t know the struggles of being a refugee, it’s so disappointing. That’s why I really like to translate stories, so that other people can understand refugees’ journeys and help them with their journey.

Why is the work you do important? What difference does it make?

Bringing back the Dandenong example [the client] was struggling to make herself understood by the receptionist, so I wanted to be the first person to stand up and help her. If I see people struggling, I want to be there, if I can help then why not?

Before getting into the program, I was searching for NAATI courses and experience, and the opportunity became available, so then, it was so easy for me to make the decision. Throughout this program, I learnt so much, I was challenged and I succeeded.

When people have the opportunity and interest, they should take it.

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