Stories about: Interpreter Services at Children’s Hospital Boston

Speaking up for those who can’t

Daad Azar, interpreter and scheduling coordinator for Interpreter Services at Children’s Hospital Boston, seems relaxed in the hectic, often noisy office that manages more than 120,000 requests per year—nearly 200 per day—for interpreters speaking more than 80 different languages. Some days, walking into Interpreter Services can be like visiting a modern-day Tower of Babel, but soft-spoken Azar takes it in stride and manages to be heard over the clamor. “Sometimes I’ve got five phone lines going at once, with people speaking five different languages,” she says.

It’s an atmosphere not unfamiliar to Azar, who grew up in Aleppo, Syria. Called by many “the most ancient city in the world,” Aleppo’s history as a permanent settlement goes back at least 4,000 years. Due to its location on the “Silk Road”—the trade routes that connect Asia with Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean—Aleppo has long been a waypoint for travellers from diverse cultures and backgrounds. As a child, Azar’s playground friends spoke a mix of languages including Armenian, Turkish and Hebrew. She regrets not paying more attention to these dialects when she had a chance. “I could have learned these languages so easily as a child,” she says. “There are just some opportunities you don’t appreciate when you’re young.”

Read Full Story