[A pe.ace story]
Published in

[A pe.ace story]

How and why I became an Interpreter and Cultural Mediator

This is the story about how and why I became an Interpreter/Cultural Mediator assisting asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in my community.

In the past decade, my community has been significantly affected by the persistent influx of people into Europe via the eastern Mediterranean. Since 2016, the wave of migration to Greece increased drastically consequently putting a strain on the resources available to address the situation.

Nowadays, mechanisms are in place to properly manage the migration crisis. For instance, shelters and temporary accommodation such as hotspots or camps have been created for asylum seekers, refugees and migrants.

I was compelled to play a part in easing the tensions in my community resulting from the migration crisis.

Meanwhile, interpreters have been hired to facilitate communication between the host community and the newcomers. Nonetheless, poor communication and cultural differences between the newcomers and members of my community is a challenge. In fact, it has been a vital cause of tensions and misunderstanding among peoples. And this threatens peace, at times leading to accusations of violations of basic human rights of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants.

As a youth peace ambassador and peace advocate with considerable experience in peacebuilding, intercultural dialogue, human rights and conflict transformation, I was compelled to play a part in easing the tensions in my community resulting from the migration crisis.

Having observed the high demand for interpreters, I decided to use my linguistic competences to support my community. I became an Interpreter/Cultural Mediator in English, French and Greek.

I gained insight into the reality of the migration crisis.

In 2018, I joined the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), one of the key players working to address the crisis in Greece. I worked in several shelters with asylum seekers, refugees and migrants on mainland Greece, particularly in the Athens region.

Through this experience, I gained insight into the reality of the migration crisis, but I wanted to do more and be at the forefront as a frontline worker. This is why I decided to join the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) one of the main coordinators of the hotspots across Greece and the European Union. I currently work at one of the biggest refugee camps in Europe based in northern Greece.

It is not always easy as people in need are often frustrated, hopeless and impatient when they want to express their needs.

Being in this context has been quite fulfilling in that it has given me the opportunity to be more impactful in my role as a peacebuilder and peace ambassador. Proper communication and intercultural dialogue are crucial for a peaceful coexistence between the newcomers and hosting societies.

As an Interpreter/Cultural Mediator, my daily tasks ensure that the needs of the asylum seekers, refugees and migrants are properly communicated and thus enabling the personnel assisting them to do their job efficiently.

It is not always easy as people in need are often frustrated, hopeless and impatient when it comes to getting across their needs in a clear and concise manner.

Therefore, I am able to make life a little less stressful, which is important for their psychology and wellbeing as well as for ensuring better understanding between peoples of different cultures and with different expectations.

In essence, this is my way of trying to have an impact on what I consider to be the most challenging issue facing my local community at present.

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