Emmaus International

Anton Antonov has been a volunteer interpreter with Emmaus International since 2014. Interpreters are an essential cog in the Emmaus International machine, as elected representatives, from 37 different countries, communicate in three different languages. Here, Anton shares his experience and his outlook.

How did you become a volunteer for Emmaus International?
It was an interpreter friend who had worked for a long time as a volunteer interpreter with Emmaus International that introduced me to Elena, Emmaus International’s interpreter-translator. That was how I became part of the Emmaus International  “network” of volunteer interpreters, and since then I’ve been asked to interpret at various meetings such as board meetings. I do simultaneous interpreting from English and French into Spanish, and from Spanish into French. 

You have a job. How do you find the time to volunteer with Emmaus, and why do you do it?
I am a lecturer at the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilisations (INALCO, but better known as Langues’O) in Paris, France. I teach Japanese, Japanese linguistics, typology and consecutive interpreting. It is not always easy to find the time, but if Emmaus International missions clash with my classes, I sometimes try to find a replacement lecturer or to make up the classes at a later date.

What do you like about interpreting at our meetings?
I feel useful because I see that through the work of the interpreters, each delegate can express themselves in their mother tongue and follow the discussion in that same language. That is essential when organising discussion around topics as important as the Emmaus International struggles in a multilingual environment.

Do you sympathise with the Emmaus struggles or values?
I really sympathise with the notion of solidarity, and believe in making myself useful in general. My work as a volunteer interpreter with Emmaus International means that, obviously in a very modest and indirect way, I can be part of the struggles carried out by Emmaus throughout the world.  
To give you an example, I feel that for an interpreter, freedom of movement is clearly a very important right.

You observe the debates that we have – how do they seem to you?
I don’t think this is specific to charity work, but interpreters can sometimes feel a bit frustrated when discussions are not moving forward, even though the interpreter might have a vague idea about how to resolve the situation. But of course, as an interpreter, I am unable to intervene!

What is your best memory of volunteering?
I was lucky enough to interpret at the last world assembly in Jesolo, Italy, in April 2016, which brought together 450 delegates from 37 different countries! I had been following the movement for a little while by then, and that was obviously a key moment in the life of the movement. The setting also stood out – it’s a pleasure to get up in the morning to go to work right next to the sea -, as well as the great atmosphere and the interpreting team. I met lots of colleagues who have since become good friends.