By: Ashley Tulio, Communication Specialist
Last week marks the first anniversary that I have been working at MCIS Language Solutions. A lot has changed since my first day working at this company, including all the knowledge I have gained. Before applying to this job, I never knew the language service industry or its essential role in today’s society. I had never been exposed to the imperative work that language professionals do that changes and supports individuals’ lives every day. I started working at a very interesting time, at the peak of lockdowns within Toronto, Ontario. During COVID-19, language services were needed more than ever to ensure everyone could access information regarding their safety, rules, and regulations.
What is the Language Service Industry?
The language service industry is a business activity that allows humans to cross language and cultural barriers. This industry is unlike any other, as language has been there throughout our entire history. It came in different forms and different dialects. It evolved alongside our civilization and has been a part of every society on earth. Communication is what allows people to understand each other and become who they are. The abundance of different languages and lack of understanding between their users created translation services that have been around as long as the language itself. Nowadays, language services are just as essential, as people’s livelihoods depend on them. Translators and interpreters can be found in all industries, including government, healthcare/medical, financial, technology/software, legal, marketing/advertising, insurance, education, social services, and pharmaceutical.
As you can see, language services are provided worldwide! Globalization and immigration are two significant factors that drive growth within the language service industry!
COVID Stories: The Impact on Language Professionals
This is one of the most impactful and emotional projects I have ever participated in within my duration of working at MCIS. As I gained more knowledge about the industry and how MCIS operates, I never truly had a conversation with a language professional, neither with a translator nor interpreter, until the start of this project.
To begin with, I think it is essential to explain what this project is about. In 2020, MCIS allocated funds from its Social Benefits Initiative (SBI) to assist community organizations experiencing challenges related to the pandemic. The purpose of this was so these organizations could provide critical information that they would otherwise not have been able to without funding. We also interviewed these community organizations, wrote blogs, and posted them as “COVID Stories” on our website. Then late in 2020, as planning for 2021 was underway, an idea was floated around about continuing the COVID Stories, but from a different perspective. This is when “COVID Stories: The Impact on Language Professionals” was born. This series of COVID stories is a collaboration between MCIS staff and our kind language professionals. To read any of these series, you can find them under our blogs page on our website!
From then on, I started planning this project, from creating the questions to reaching out to our language professionals to share their wonderful stories, learning about their professional and personal lives, and how the pandemic impacted both aspects. I knew the work we did was essential, but I was not educated on the tremendous emotional toll that language professionals go through daily. I learned so much about the process of interpretation and translation. I heard many stories on how they become a language professional, whether by accident or from a calling at a young age. I learned about how many of them struggled to get their vaccine shots at the beginning because they were not considered “frontline workers”, even though many of them worked alongside healthcare professionals, settlement workers, social services workers, educators, and many others, providing language services to Non-English or Limited-English Speakers (NES/LES). I am now aware of the emotional struggles and challenges they have gone through daily due to the nature of their work. All the language professionals I have conversed with have truly amazed me because despite them being attached emotionally to certain situations, they still act professionally during the whole duration of extremely tough conditions. It’s not easy to be the bearer of bad news. It’s not easy to see someone hurting, in pain, or in emotional distress. It’s not easy to do live interpretation or timed translation under such pressuring conditions. Yet language professionals do this on daily basis.
In every introduction of the COVID Stories: The Impact on Language Professionals there is a line that says:
“Language Professionals are heroes in their own right.” And they truly are.
They save people’s lives, they are virtuous, patient, courageous, strong, supportive, selfless, empathic, and most importantly they are resilient. No matter how challenging their jobs become, they do not give up, and they continue to do an outstanding job!
To read more about the Language Service Industry, please see some of our other blogs: