Remote simultaneous interpreting empowering secluded indigenous communities

 | Interpretation best practices

Face-to-face meetings with interpreters physically present have many advantages over virtual meetings, yet remote simultaneous interpreting (RSI) offers unique opportunities for under-represented or geographically isolated groups to make their voices heard. These opportunities were highlighted at the 2020 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award Virtual Celebration.

Indigenous communities participating in a meeting with remote simultaneous interpreting

Participants in the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award Virtual Celebration

On 22 October 2020, Calliope’s representative in Costa Rica, Sharona Wolkowicz provided remote interpretation services between English, Spanish and Portuguese at the 2020 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award Virtual Celebration. 

Each year, the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award is presented to a leader of moral courage who has stood up to oppression, even at great personal risk, in the non-violent pursuit of human rights. This year, Alessandra Korap Munduruku was honoured with the Award for her work defending the culture, livelihoods, and rights of indigenous people of Brazil. 

The event highlighted some of the unique opportunities presented by remote simultaneous interpreting (RSI). It enabled Alessandra Korap Munduruku and Maria Leusa Cosme Kaba, another indigenous leader from a secluded community in the Upper Tapajós, Brazil, to take part in a panel discussion with human rights activists and experts from Paris, Washington DC and Guatemala City. The discussion was rendered into English, Spanish and Portuguese by interpreters based in Argentina and Brazil. In addition to making a compelling case for the protection of their ancestral land and the Tapajós river in three different languages, Maria Leusa and Chief Juarez Saw Munduruku were able to showcase their way of life to the whole world, fully decked out in traditional garb. Surely this gave more force to their words, as Maria Leusa declared “I am a woman, I am a mother and a grandmother. I am a fighter, a warrior and I am here to advocate for my people.”

“It was inspiring to interpret the words of indigenous women leaders and to lend our voices to a cause that is close to Calliope’s heart,” commented Sharona Wolkowicz, the Consultant Interpreter who organised the interpretation for the event, and represents Calliope in Central America. Calliope’s Environment Charter sets out the network’s commitment to playing its part in protecting the environment, a commitment which is reflected in an annual decision to offset its carbon emissions, most recently by planting 700 trees in Brazil.

The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award identifies and honours those who embody Robert F. Kennedy’s belief that the power of individual moral courage can overcome injustice. Over the past 37 years, the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award has recognized 56 outstanding activists and organizations from 30 countries.  

Calliope-Interpreters was humbled by the opportunity to facilitate this uplifting and admirable initiative, which highlighted the inclusive power of remote simultaneous interpreting. Contact us today so that we can help you realise the full potential of your online event.

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