Instead of Using a Translator, Partner With a Co-Facilitator

We finished up the Satir Model training today. It was a successful workshop, with every participant feeling like they got much more than their money’s worth. This post is about what a great job my friend Sasha did with translating between Russian and English. Sophia also did well when Georgian translation was required, and the four of us worked great as a team, but I particularly want to admire Sasha for now.

What was great about his performance is that he did not function as a translator. He was an integral part of the facilitation team. Steven was clear with him before the workshop began that he was not here to be a translator. That what we needed was someone who was going to be part of the facilitation team – which was Steven, me, Sasha, and Sophia.

About half-way through the workshop Sasha asked me how I thought he was doing. I told him I thought he was doing an amazing job. I could tell that he was not just translating literal words. Sasha has a PhD in Psychology and has been studying the Satir Model for many years with Steven, Laura Dodson, and others. When I or Steven would explain a concept in English, then Sasha would transform it into words that convey the message in Russian. A direct translation would rarely, if ever, suffice. When this happens, it is like having two people saying one thing.

For example, teaching is a creative art, and when I communicate a concept, the original words in English contain my creation of how to teach the topic. Then Sasha adds his creativity to the message as it is communicated in Russian. In this way, that set of words has meaning that makes sense and is able to be assimilated by more people, because it encompasses two people’s teaching style.

20141014_132911Because of Sasha’s high level of competence, there were also plenty of times where he would be able to give important information in Russian without me or Steven saying a word. There were a couple people who at times were not able to understand the concept in Russian, and needed to hear it in their native Georgian. Then, it would start with English, and Sasha would transform to Russian, and Sophia would transform to Georgian. That was interesting. And surprisingly, not a hinderance. This is due purely to how good Sophia and Sasha are.

Here is a picture of  Sasha (aka Dr. Alexander Cheryomukhin), who is not only an excellent facilitator, but a dear man who is fun to be around and has a great sense of humor. He humored my photographer-self when I requested this model pose of my euro-friend dressed in euro-attire standing in a euro-city.


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