|Winter Seminar for Engaged Faculty, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, February 11, 2009|
A mid-year study day was held for the study group of faculty members and teaching assistants of the Partnership's community-engaged courses, this time hosted by the Department of Translation and Interpreting Studies of Bar Ilan University.
Prof. Miriam Shlesinger of Bar Ilan's Department of Translation and Interpreting Studies began the day with a presentation titled "Transformation Through Translation: Training Bi-Lingual Students as Interpreters for Language Minorities". She shared her experiences from three years of teaching the innovative "Community Interpreting" course at Bar Ilan University. In this course, students from a variety of language backgrounds (Russian, Arabic, English, Amharic, and others) are given a basic grounding in community-based interpreting. The students devote 4 hours a week to community interpreting at government agencies, hospitals, well-baby clinics, and other community settings.
Prof. Shlesinger discussed some of the dilemmas faced by the students, who by virtue of their position must represent both the Hebrew-speaking service provider and the disadvantaged minority groups. Students learn that interpreters in such sensitive situations are often confronted with conflicting demands of their "clients,” on the one hand, and the service provider, on the other. Yet despite the many challenges, students report an enormous sense of achievement, having truly been given the opportunity to make a difference.
The second part of the study day was devoted to brainstorming about teaching community-engaged courses, mentoring students, and developing partnerships with community organizations. The faculty members and teaching assistants shared their knowledge and experience relating to these elements of community-engaged courses. Further, the group discussed central lessons learnt from the first semester of the 2008/9 academic year.