Said has been a contractor for TIS National since October 1999. He speaks eight languages: Dari, Hazaragi, Farsi, Pastu, Persian, Russian, Urdu and English. He is currently working on Christmas Island.
Said is originally from Afghanistan. Born in Ghanzni, his family moved to Kabul when he was two years old. Said finished school in 1975 and enrolled in university where he completed a degree in civil engineering. After graduating he initially worked as a professor at the polytechnic but gave up this job after three years because of political issues.
For almost a decade he worked in the building industry as a site engineer on a range of jobs. He eventually became the project director on the largest building project in the country. This project, funded by the United Nations, was constructing a hospital for war victims.
Said worked on this project until 1992 when civil war broke out and he fled with his family to Pakistan. It took nearly three years before the family managed to permanently re-settle. Sponsored by his brother-in-law, Said arrived in Australia on 26 June 1995.
A multicultural home
Said now lives in Sydney. The Australian way of life suits him. He particularly values Australia's multiculturalism and the ability to study and build a life. Said is also appreciative of the freedoms he and all other Australians have to celebrate their culture and follow their customs. Said has friends from many cultures and backgrounds including Aboriginal, Lebanese and Croatian Australians. Before coming to Australia he knew very little about Aboriginal culture. But since arriving he's enjoyed learning more about the Indigenous Australians and their thriving living cultures. He's learnt much from Aboriginal people in West Australia and South Australia.
Said finds his job stimulating and recommends interpreting as a career. He finds the job flexible and very varied. He greatly enjoys working with the wide variety of professionals such as the doctors and lawyers he encounters in his role. It's also very rewarding to help members of the Afghan community with their communication needs.
In his decade as an interpreter Said has worked in diverse locations. As well as Said currently assisting with interpreting on Christmas Island he has interpreted at Port Hedland, Woomera, Nauru and Derby. He has also worked in Melbourne, Brisbane and performed interpreting jobs right across NSW. All these assignments have been interesting but Said enjoys the non-metropolitan jobs most. The best experience he ever had was when he worked with a volunteer to teach a group of asylum seekers about Australian culture. They were eager to find out about the settlement process, how the Australian taxation system worked, and more about the experience of Afghan asylum seekers in Australia.
The importance of accreditation
As a ten year veteran Said is happy to share his top tips with new interpreters commencing their career. His most important message is to always follow the code of conduct and behave ethically. Said cannot stress the importance of confidentiality enough. 'Professionalism is vital: it's the most essential requirement of the job,' he said. Said also recommended that new interpreters remain focused on ongoing learning and acquiring new terminology.
Said has long been accredited as a Dari interpreter but he recently achieved his accreditation in Hazaragi with assistance from the New Interpreters Project. On behalf of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters is administering the New Interpreters Project. The project aims to increase the number of NAATI accredited and recognised interpreters in 'new and emerging' languages of demand. More information about the project is available.
Said is a big fan of accreditation. He explained that there is a growing Hazara community in Australia. Last year when NAATI commenced accrediting Hazaragi interpreters, Said jumped at the opportunity. He appreciated the funding that helped make this possible. He says, 'Accreditation is important because the message must be transmitted accurately and interpreters need to learn about the professionalism of the industry.' He sees that there is a huge link between accreditation and professionalism.
Said eagerly passed on tips for other colleagues considering seeking accreditation. 'Fully prepare for the test, ensure you have a grasp of the culture surrounding the language and familiarise yourself with the code of ethics,' he advised. Said also believes that accreditation is not the end of the process, 'never stop learning: if you do not give a flame oxygen, it will die.'
‘You have to seize opportunities and maintain balance between education and communication skills. Further education and training will always be beneficial. Just get stuck into it. If you never try you have already missed out.’