Education & Guidelines for Refugee Children Interpreters (RCI)
The project in brief
The project is implemented by Homointer in the Republic of Korea. It began in May 2022 and ended in October 2022.
The project is an effort to harmonize the two aspects of child protection and growth through the development of strengths in situations where refugee children are very often forced to interpret on a daily basis for their parents or adults around them. It aims to provide a protective environment for children and to enable them to use this situation as a learning opportunity and allow them to be agents of their own rights.
Main activities of the Good Practice
1. Interviews with Stakeholders
We interviewed various stakeholders to better comprehend the reality of Refugee Child Interpreters (RCI) as it unfolds in Korea. These interviews helped us to clarify definitions and gain various insights , which became the foundation for developing our activities and guidebook.
2. Developing and carrying activities
We’ve attempted to develop activities for children, practitioners and activists working for refugee and migrant support organizations. From the contents of the interviews, we confirmed that children are often exposed to stress or pressure and encounter situations that catch them off guard.
Therefore, for children, we based our activity (three sessions) on Social Emotional Learning (SEL), which employs content and method of play that deals with emotional and behavioural aspects in response to sudden stressful situations.
For practitioners and activists, we conducted a user training session consisting of three parts: sharing experience of child interpretation, tips and insights from our activities to connect them to the field and suggestions of minimum requirements in the form of guidelines for two scenarios of Child Interpreting: when children are partaking in interpretation themselves and when we interpret for children.
3. Guidebook for Stakeholders
We offer a guidebook containing a minimum guideline for practitioners and activists of refugee and migrant support organizations as well as parents (or guardians), to realize children as agents of their own rights, keeping in mind their best interest at heart by providing care and protection.
What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?
- The reality is that there are almost no previous studies on CI in Korea.
- Unbalanced perception of focusing more on the positive or negative aspects of CI.
- Absence of financial resources.
- The target participants’ ages (from 6yrs to around 10yrs) which are younger than expected (from upper grades of primary school to high school) for children’s activity.
How they were overcome
- References to international literature and interviews with domestic child interpreters (former, current), and stakeholders.
- User training session and guidebook distribution reflecting different aspects.
- Financial support.
- Conducting the activity in an adapted way to the participants’ ages. We finally realised that some of them were already “active” child interpreters.
Results of the Good Practice
- We conducted three sessions of activities for children, with seven primary school or kindergarten students. These sessions helped them “play with emotions” (recognition of their own and others’ emotions, expression of their emotional states and self-management when faced with sudden stressful situations, etc.), and be ready to deal with their hard experiences and sharing them. Indeed, we held follow up sessions in the centre in which we hosted the initial sessions. Participants expressed various emotions, which had come up, related to their own CI experiences. The most frequent one of emotions expressed was ambivalence – “it was hard but rewarding”.
- During our activities, a child shared that they sometimes had to interpret to not be punished. This information allowed us to identify the need to improve awareness around child interpretation by educating parents, guardians, and anyone using children to interpret. Around 20 practitioners and activists participated in the trainings session and we distributed guidebooks to all stakeholders, including parents and guardians.
- This project can be used as a domestic report, proving the need of establishing an interpreters pool to avoid child interpreting.
Yes the project will be continued - we would like to collect more interviews of stakeholders to use for advocacy, as well as conduct more training sessions and activity sessions for children.
Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?
- Active change of attitude in CI
- Fund for the project
- Partnership with other refugee and migrant support organizations to conduct the activities
- Design and publication of the guidebook, adapted to stakeholders of the project, especially refugee parents.
- Yoohyun OH, project manager & psychologist, Homointer
- Jaeyoon PARK, Director, Intercultural education specialist & Expressive arts therapist, Jaha Institute Centre