Meet Raj, MCIS Interpreters Fellowship Cohort 2017

MCIS Language Solutions is a non-profit that has evolved into a model social enterprise and has been relentlessly pursuing its goal to remove language barriers for over 25 years. As part of our Social Benefits Initiative (SBI), MCIS gave away 8 full scholarships for our Community Language Interpreter Training Program to the most qualified and deserving candidates. Raj Gautam, a Bhutanese immigrant, was one of the winners of the scholarship. Here is his captivating story, in his own words.

Raj’s Story

I am a son of refugee parents who were forcefully ejected from Bhutan, the country I was born but have never seen since 1992. Leaving Bhutan and the society was very painful for most Bhutanese of Nepali origin. Everything around us changed – we had no society to fall back on, no Samaritan to support us, and no government to understand our plight. It was an exodus of all sorts.

My family like many Nepali speaking Bhutanese became squatters, first in India and then in Nepal, before the UNHCR, the government of Nepal and other global organizations and countries came to our help. In January 1995, I went to Nepal with my elder brother in search of life and hope. We settled in the refugee camp in Beldangi, Jhapa, Nepal but soon left it for there was no scope for work and study. Meanwhile, my parents and siblings stayed in India.

I had been studying in India all until 1994, but I had to give up hope of studying science after I completed high school as I had no resources to realize my dream. Understandably, I took up a course in Humanities and Social Sciences. I majored in English from a government college in Biratnagar, Nepal where politics was more fundamental than preparing students for future. During the college years, I worked in a private school to pay off my tuition fees and accommodation cost. I was poorly paid and had to take home tuition to make ends meet. I struggled for 5 years until I completed my undergraduate studies in 1999.

My challenges had only just begun. I went to Kathmandu in 2000 to study in the Central Campus of Tribhuvan University, but met the same fate. Because my score was average, I did not get any scholarship. I applied to teach in a few schools before I became financially sound. Though I had the money I did not have time to study so it took me 4 years to complete graduate studies. I completed it in 2006, and then I worked as IELTS Instructor in abroad study consultancies in Kathmandu. While living and working in Kathmandu, I felt very lonely, isolated, and depressed. I felt a constant sense of yearning to return to my parents, but I could not. I felt like I was sinking in the quicksand of Kathmandu. Finally, I left Kathmandu to return to Biratnagar in 2010 to live with my brother’s family and my wife, who I had married in 2009.

In 2012 I returned to Beldangi Refugee Camp which I had left almost 14 years ago. Bhutanese refugees had been settling in third world countries under the auspices of the UN, Nepal government and resettlement countries like the USA, the UK, Australia, and Canada since 2008. My family took the final initiative in 2012 and after nearly 3 years we got accepted to come to Canada in October, 2015. While so much of my emotional nerves were settled for some time, but I soon realized that life for educated person like me in Ontario as well as across Canada was tough.

All my previous experience and academic certificates did not have any Canadian recognition. I felt the burden to have educational assessment done on my previous studies, which is very strenuous and taxing, especially I would have to send all my documents to Nepal for university attestations. I have not been able to do so still. I have to rethink how to get my acts together to forge a direction in life here. In early December, 2015, I applied for the MCIS Community Interpreter Training but due to the lack of financial support, I could not manage the course in spite of my deep interest. I exchanged my willingness to train but the subsidy was too small to offset study cost. I completed the INT 101 module late at night on 15th December.

Since then I have waited for my opportunity. Fortunately, I had enrolled for newsletters and notifications from MCIS, and no notification has given me more happiness than the one that was posted on August 9, 2017. Accordingly, I am trying my level best to prepare a best case to land one of the 8 scholarships that are in offer. I think I have the right qualifications, personality and temperament to understand the task of interpreting as I have already done one assignment – on February 2, 2016 – at the Women’s Shelter at 674 Dundas Street West. That day lifted my morale high; my dying hopes got a new lease of life; and my desire to work for a serious job came tantalizingly close to me. However, other assignments that came my way never synchronized with my situation. I felt so emotionally drained until this chance and opportunity. I will work hard to make the scholarship count. I will work for my community adhering to the principles of interpreting.

Social Impact at MCIS Language Solutions

At MCIS Language Solutions, we aim to make a social impact in the community by giving people, like Raj, opportunities for growth, capacity building, and advocating for language as a basic human right. We aim to make a significant, positive change that addresses a pressing social challenge. The Social Benefit Initiative was only one of the many programs MCIS has in place to make a community impact (learn more at https://www.mcislanguages.com/social-impact/).  We hope to continue with programs such as the SBI scholarship in the future and remain committed to vulnerable people and their right to access important public services.

About MCIS

MCIS Language Solutions is a non-profit that has evolved into a model social enterprise and has been relentlessly pursuing its goal to remove language barriers for over 25 years. With over 60 full time staff and engaging a roster of over 6,000 interpreters, translators, voice artists, transcriptionists, training facilitators, and other language professionals, MCIS provides a full suite of language solutions: from language interpretation, translation and transcription to localization, training and training development for government, legal, police services and healthcare organizations in 300+ languages.

Every year MCIS invests some of its net income into initiatives that support free services for victims of violence and the homeless, and training subsidies for aspiring interpreters and translators. With a growing demand for language services, a long track record of success, and deep roots in the community, MCIS has positioned itself to capture more market share in the language industry by simply demonstrating there is a better way to conduct business.

Our vision, to connect people globally through languages, is really about communication. Our mission is to improve access to critical information and services through high quality language solutions. We want to build authentic, transparent and trusted bridges world-wide that will break down silos between people and languages, fueling mobility and prosperity.

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