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Ukrainian interpreters wanted in Spain

The arrival of thousands of Ukrainian refugees in Spain has increased the need for interpreters, a task that is being assumed not only by those who have the professional training to do so, but also by Ukrainians who have been residing in the country for years, creating new job opportunities.

Ivan (not his real name) left Ukraine with his parents when he was 16 years old to start living in Spain because the economic situation in his country “was very bad”. Now, at 32 years old, he has Spanish nationality and is fully integrated, but he remembers that his beginnings were difficult, especially because he did not know the language. “You’re walking down the street and you don’t even know how to ask for the metro stop,” he says.

For this reason, he understands very well the situation of his Ukrainian compatriots who are arriving in Spain in search of refuge after the beginning of the invasion of their country by Russia, at the end of February, and whom he is now helping with his new job. as an interpreter for an NGO in a shelter, where he hears “very hard stories”.

“I talk to them, reassuring them and telling them that the stage in Ukraine is past and now they have to start living again,” he says. The job as an interpreter is a new job opportunity for Ivan, who during these years has mainly worked as a cook in Spain. Like him, many other Ukrainians residing in Spain who are fluent in both languages ​​have begun to work as interpreters (hired or voluntarily) given the need to attend to the around 134,000 Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in our country since the start of the war .

Ukrainians living in Spain

On the other hand, among the more than 112,000 Ukrainians who lived in Spain before the war (most of them in Madrid, the Valencian Community and Andalusia), there are some interpreters with academic training to carry out this work and who have seen their work increase . This is the case of Svitlana, who received the “most important” assignment of his life by doing the simultaneous interpretation of the Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zelenski, in his appearance by video before the Congress of Deputies on April 5.

“They called me directly from Congress. I did not speak with Zelenski before, I would like to have spoken with him but it does not correspond to my duties,” says Svitlana, a graduate in Hispanic Philology and a master’s degree in translation and interpretation.

He has been living in Spain for more than 20 years, where he arrived as soon as he finished university with a contract to work as an interpreter in a company, a good job opportunity at a time when the economic situation was “complicated” in his country of origin. During this time, she has worked as a freelance translator and interpreter, making it compatible with other jobs, but since the war began, the assignments she receives related to her training are greater because there is “a lot of demand.”

“Above all, simultaneous interpretation, which is something that has come up more now,” explains Svitlana, who before the war was mainly dedicated to translating texts and consecutive interpreting, in which the interpreter starts translating when the speaker has finished his speech, but not at the same time. Svitlana is one of the five interpreters who regularly collaborates with the Embassy of Ukraine in Spain, which after the arrival of thousands of Ukrainian refugees is looking for “more professionals” with this training, but also people who are fluent in both languages, even if they do not have a title, as indicated by sources in the consular section.

These same sources explain that there are official tasks for which it is necessary to have accredited translators and interpreters, but to speak with Ukrainians who arrive at reception centers, for example, “whoever wants and can” can do it.

four translators

For its part, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has four sworn translators and interpreters of Ukrainian throughout Spain, and the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration has just hired 74 Ukrainians for the call center that attends to newly arrived refugees from Ukraine and offers them appointments in one of the four reception centers in Spain.

In one of them, located in Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid), Svitlana has recently started working as an interpreter, who translated the conversation that the king had during his visit to the center last weekend with a Ukrainian family hosted in this place . “I really like being able to help here,” says Svitlana, who perfectly understands the situation her compatriots are going through, since she arrived in Spain with a 12-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old son on March 3, also fleeing from the war, while her husband and a 21-year-old third son are still in Ukraine fighting.

At the house of Spanish friends

Svitlana, who is staying with a family of Spanish friends, considers herself lucky to have found a job a few days after arriving thanks to her training and experience, since in kyiv she worked as a Spanish teacher at the university and also as a translator and interpreter. “Now in Spain, in addition to translating and helping with paperwork, I explain many things (to my compatriots), such as where to go to ask for social assistance, Spanish classes, medical assistance or how to send children to school or look for a job” , comments in reference to the most urgent issues that Ukrainians who have arrived in Spain have to face.

To meet the need for interpreters in schools, the Government has announced that it will urgently hire 200 Ukrainian language assistants. In the Community of Madrid, an office for care of newly arrived Ukrainians has been created at the Isabel Zendal hospital, which has an interpreter service to assist them with any procedure, such as managing the discharge on the health card, guiding them with transport or helping them in the job search.

And beyond the political sphere, other initiatives are emerging, such as that of the Madrid College of Physicians, which has promoted a program of teleconsultations with fifty Ukrainian collegiate residents in the Madrid region who have already treated around 400 refugees.

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