What it’s Like to Be a Remote Interpreter during COVID-19

Dear Boostlingo Family,


I wanted to say thank you and share something positive with you that I hope you can find encouraging or that you might find it even useful for other interpreters.


I am a conference interpreter, so being used to working mostly from the booth, I wasn’t that often in direct contact with the people benefiting from the service until I started taking calls with Boostlingo’s platform. I have to say that being in direct contact with people, especially in the current difficult circumstances, struggling in some way or another because of the language barrier, has been very rewarding. I love being part of a job that brings people together, that tears down these gaps and barriers and helps some that couldn’t communicate properly or benefit from a service, feel at ease, looked after and understood. I’ve recently had some very touching experiences with people that are in very difficult situations and being a little part of the solution and help that was offered to them was really beautiful. So I wanted to say thanks for the opportunity to be part of the team and the work on OPI and VRI.


I specialise in medical, legal, education and court, so most of what happens during these calls is obviously confidential but I’d like to share with you just the general feeling of what has been happening in several during these calls. Most of the calls are in a medical setting, with people feeling bad and with health workers under so much pressure and stress I could tell the huge difference it made in both patients and health care providers being treated with patience and efficiency. Lots of those calls or videoconferences started with a very tense atmosphere and ended up with doctors, nurses and patients feeling a lot more relaxed, smiling and reassured. Many of the situations have been quite extreme due to the Covid-19 crisis, but still several requestors took a moment to say how much the service had helped them and expressed their appreciation. In a particular family session with a social worker and a family going through very difficult circumstances, both ended the conversation saying how happy they were that they could have such a fluid conversation, understand each other like talking directly and connecting at an emotional level. The social worker congratulated me for the service that made possible what they thought was an amazing therapy session. The mother of the family almost cried when she said that she wanted to thank the interpreter because she’d never had such a session before. Although they were of course the ones that made all the conversation and the therapy came from the qualified health professionals, they all felt that it worked better just because they were treated with patience, not interrupted and the conversation was interpreted in a way that conveyed not only the message but also the feelings and emotions of the original speaker. Hearing them say that and feeling the much happier and relaxed tone of voices by the end of a very long and difficult to interpret session was a real gift. It really puts into perspective the human and caring side of our work that can otherwise get buried by the routine or the calls when people are a bit rude or aggressive.


In another call a person from the education system was offering help to families of the children in their school, offering assistance even with food, medicines, paperwork for community services and checking up on them. The person started the call very stressed having to call lots and lots of different numbers and feeling that she couldn’t probably get through half of what she had to do. We called so many numbers of different families for them that I lost track of how many numbers I dialed just for that service. But just a few calls into it, I could tell she was relaxing and feeling that this way it would be a lot easier than what she had thought before. We both finished the call incredibly satisfied about how much had been done and how smooth some of these very difficult conversations had been. By the end of a long list of third party phone calls the teacher felt that she’d managed to contact everybody, assess the situations properly and even got many days of appointments ready for picking up food and delivering it, organized and made easier with addresses, specific time appointments and all the necessary details. She also thanked us for the service and said that we’d been amazing that day and that she didn’t think she could make it before she got on the phone.


Raquel Maquieira Sans
Interpreter- 3TBox Team