This article analyzes the outcomes of the first medical interpreter vocational training course for Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel. Our study draws on the work of Phyllis Butow et al. on medical interpreters’ perceptions of their role, including the challenges they face; on Elena Ragazzi’s call for a flexible evaluation of vocational training outcomes; and on Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of “cultural capital” as an empowering tool for change. The course was initiated in 2013 in response to difficulties experienced by medical personnel and Eritrean asylum seekers regarding the provision of health services for refugees. The outcomes of the course led to four main conclusions: (1) it was a positive learning endeavor that led graduates to better jobs; (2) it was an empowering experience that enabled graduates to better care for themselves and their loved ones, and enhanced their understanding of their rights as asylum seekers; (3) it was perceived as a project of inclusion that created a safe and reassuring environment within the otherwise hostile reality of state-orchestrated exclusion, yet it also induced a sense of frustration in that it had no impact on the unjust social structure in which the asylum seekers live; and (4) the course was helpful in developing the graduates’ understanding of their complex role as medical interpreters.
- Eritrean refugees
- medical interpretation training
- vocational training