Pro bono

A post in a BDÜ forum gave this link from the City of Konstanz.

The heading is ‘Hilfe für Migranten – Ehrenamtliche SprachmittlerInnen für ausländische BürgerInnen­’ – Help for migrants – pro bono translators and interpreters for foreigners.

It describes an attempt to build up a network of volunteer translators and interpreters for situations where a sworn translator or translator is not required by law, in social welfare and medical matters.

“Ein chinesisches Sprichwort sagt: Den Menschen zu helfen ist die Quelle des Glücks”, so Shu Jiuan Widmann bei der kürzlich erfolgten Präsentation des Projektes “Ehrenamtliche SprachmittlerInnen” im Landratsamt. Shu Jiuan Widmann ist in Taiwan geboren und spricht aus ihrer reichhaltigen Erfahrung als ehrenamtlich tätige Mittlerin zwischen den Kulturen. Nun wird sie mit dazu beigetragen, das Projekt “Ehrenamtliche SprachmitllerInnen” auf die Beine zu stellen, in dessen Rahmen sie künftig die Rolle der Ansprechpartnerin für die Sprachmitllernnen wie auch für die nachfragenden Institutionen übernimmt. Initiiert wurde das Projekt gemeinsam von Annette Breitsameter-Grössl von der Kontakt- und Koordinierungsstelle für Bürgerschaftliches Engagement im Landkreis Konstanz und der Integrationsbeauftragten der Stadt Konstanz, Elke Cybulla.

Ziel ist es, einen landkreisweiten ehrenamtlich tätigen Dolmetscherservice für gesundheitliche und soziale Einrichtungen, die nicht den vereidigten DolmetscherInnen vorbehalten sind, bereitzustellen und zu etablieren. Alle im Landkreis ehrenamtlich tätigen SprachhelferInnen sollen in eine Adress- und Telefonliste eingetragen werden, die beim AusländerInnenamt des Landratsamtes und der Integrationsbeauftragten der Stadt Konstanz hinterlegt ist.

Some training is intended, but it looks as if the only qualifications are speaking the foreign language and German, and ideally knowing Germany.

Representatives of the BDÜ were particularly concerned at the lack of quality control. And one person said that she would be happy to interpret free of charge for a psychotherapist or doctor, but only on condition that the psychotherapist or doctor also made no charge. Why is it always the interpreters and translators who are expected to work for nothing?

A Google search on “ehrenamtliche Dolmetscher” reveals numerous such schemes.

6 thoughts on “Pro bono

  1. “one person said that she would be happy to interpret free of charge for a psychotherapist or doctor, but only on condition that the psychotherapist or doctor also made no charge.”

    I agree with that person’s comment. I have done pro-bono translations, for example for Amnesty International, but I don’t see why a translator should work free if the other professional charges for his or her services.

  2. I’m with you — if anyone wants to speak their native tongue in their native country, I don’t see the problem. The Greens, whose policies I am probably closest to, have some of the weakest personalities at the top of the party right now (Trittin is downright unlikable), and

  3. What makes the whole thing this little bit more embarassing is that the exact same question that the BBC reporter asked had already been asked shortly beforehand.

    • Ah yes – that would explain it – maybe not so much embarrassing as a plant. Someone wrote on a mailing list today: ‘If you look closely, the reporter appears to be following what Westerwelle
      says in German.’

  4. 1.) I think the perception of the Westerwelle debate has drifted off in the wrong direction. The
    problem wasn’t so much that he ‘explained’ that fact about press conferences, or his command of English, but rather the muddle he got himself into after that first statement (which the journalist actually accepted straight away by nodding). As the author above and the article in the Independent say
    too, he was unnecessarily rude.

    2.) The public’s (and politicians’) motivation for criticising or defending Westerwelle does not
    have its origin in that insidence, of course, but in the recent elections and campaigns. The population is much more divided about the outcome than the international media may have described, and
    the discussion about Westerwelle and his party is right at the centre of this debate.

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