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Selection, Preparation and Quality of Interpreters

Minutes and Conclusions of the team

1. Revise and upgrade the Babels registration website in order to facilitate a more effective selection process based on IT “processable” criteria :

2. Identify and segment sources of volunteer candidates :

  1. if there is a country or area coordinator, he/she has the responsibility for “qualifying” the candidate for an event
  2. otherwise there needs to be an e-mail contact to check motivation and target language ; followed by a phone interview (or a meeting with a coordinator who happens to be travelling in the area)

3. Upgrade the selection process (mainly for “locals” since the above point deals with faraways) :

The team in Brussels didn’t really take a stand on the need to separate or not selection from “situational preparation” (the word training is taboo, but not for all team members). In other words, should there be a two stage process where a volunteer is first “tested “ on a go/nogo basis and then, if its go, exposed to Sit-Prep ? My personal recommendation (Guillaume), is that at this stage, we should go ahead with the Sit-Prep process in London, invite volunteers, and find out who can make it or not. My own experience from ESF 2003 is that in most cases, volunteers are quite capable of doing a self assessment of their skills once exposed to simultaneous interpretation requirements. The disadvantage of this approach is that we will need to invite all volunteers to the Sit-Prep, thus making the numbers greater for the sit-prep sessions.

As we develop experience, we can think of a more structured procedure to streamline the flow of volunteers and include in the sit prep sessions only those whom we believe are potentially qualified as an outcome of a prior assessment.

The team stressed the importance of not risking that a negative outcome of the selection procedure be considered by the volunteer as a personal failure. We must explain that we owe it to our Forum (or other event) partners to provide quality interpretation ; we must also encourage each volunteer to work in other than interpretation activities in a given event. Other activities will also use their language skills.

4. Situational Preparation :

5. Organization of Booths (real or virtual)

6. Image of Babels

The malfunctioning and mishaps of recent forums as concerns interpretation has created negative perceptions along with positive vibes. The team believes that it is very important that the above points be implemented.

A project group was setup to work on point 1 above, revision and upgrading of the website registration procedure. The group is made of Guillaume, Helga, Ian, Jesus, Naima, Rita, Robert, Veronica. The group has committed to making a proposal by July 31st.

(1) The term “ethnic groups” deserves some explanation : as an example, Hiroshi and the Brazilian coordination will look for Japanese speaking volunteers in the Sao Paulo area where it is known that a very important Japanese-Brazilian ethnic group lives.
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