Salar is our January Interpreter of the Month!
Our first interpreter of the month for 2023 is Salar, a multi-lingual interpreter who has been working with Clear Voice since last year. We are incredibly grateful for the experience and expertise Salar has brought to Clear Voice. Our clients truly appreciate the high standard of his work.
It was fantastic to speak with Salar about his career, his own experiences of seeking asylum in the UK, and why he finds interpreting to be such a meaningful role…
Hi Salar, it’s great to meet you and learn about your story. How did you end up working as an
I was very good at English at school and always got the highest exam score. Then, when I was older, I had the opportunity to work with the UNHCR, which deals with asylum seekers and refugees. There, my English improved, and I could work with them as an interpreter and then be promoted to Field Assistant. Working with the UN was the best experience I had due to having direct contact with people and hearing their stories. I helped them, in every way, to make sure they are safe and they could start to have a bright future ahead of them by following the rules and regulations of UNHCR.
Many people there had difficulty understanding English, so I was interpreting for them to a UN Field Officer. This made sure all their suffering and needs were understood by the UNHCR so they could do what is necessary in the camp. Seeing the positive impact I could have on people’s lives made me decide to work as an interpreter when I came to the UK. My English is good, and I speak different languages and other dialects of Arabic and Kurdish. I decided I wanted to help asylum seekers and refugees in the UK and my professional interpreting gave me that opportunity.
Which languages do you interpret for?
I interpret several Arabic dialects – Syrian, Lebanese, Egyptian, and Iraqi – and three different dialects of Kurdish – Kurmanji, Sorani and Badini. I also used to have a good knowledge of Persian, but I haven’t
used it for interpreting.
How was your own experience of coming to the UK?
I came to the UK in 2001 and my experience was like that of many others. I came from Iraq
when I was 27 or 28. I came alone and without my family. It was hard for me to leave the life that I
used to live. Arriving as an asylum seeker was very hard. You are in a different place with different
people and a different culture. I had worked with Europeans and Americans before but moving to a
place that isn’t my home country… it wasn’t easy initially.
I applied for asylum and was able to work seven months later, so this was when I started working as
an interpreter. I didn’t just want to sit at home. So I started working, and it was good for me. I kept busy, and I was helping people.
My house was always full of Kurdish and Arabic people with letters from solicitors, government officials, and social workers. They would come, and I would translate for them for free, and at the same time, I was registered to work in a professional capacity. Mainly I was working with solicitors at the time, as many people were entering the country from the Middle East and needed interpreting and translation.
Do you find that your interpreting is informed by these experiences?
Yes, due to my long years of experience, I like working with refugees and asylum seekers. I am good at it, and it’s been easy for me to understand their needs.
As an interpreter, it’s my job to translate precisely what is being said between the parties. I am a ‘copy
and paste’ from one language to another. I must not add anything extra or leave anything out. But in
the conversations with refugees, my experiences mean I understand where they are coming
from and how they feel.
Interpreting for refugees means you always see different stories. There are families with children,
who had good lives back home… hearing their life stories and suffering, and while here in the UK they’re scared and don’t know what their outcome will be, is hard. They’re in a strange country and have no idea what their futures hold.
You started working with Clear Voice in 2022 after a few years away from interpreting. How has returning to the profession been?
I have been thrilled going back to interpreting, and I’ve enjoyed getting back to helping people who are seeking asylum. Working remotely is new, but I don’t think it makes much difference. It’s the same via a telephone or video call as it is in person. I enjoy helping people understand each other, and interpreting will always satisfy me.