Сase studies
Helping those who help: accompanying the organizer of a non-profit conference
A founder of a UK NPO in the area of palliative care reached out to me. He and his team wanted to organize an educational online event for people from post-Soviet countries. For such large-scale international events it is important to overcome both language and intercultural barriers, so that the participants could derive maximum benefit from the event.

Kristina Roppelt
Intercultural Communications
& Soft Skills Consultant
Problem
The organizers of the event didn’t have a clear understanding of either the differences between ex-USSR countries, or their target audience. They had a variety of questions because of that: what language should we hold the event in? Should we translate supplementary materials? How do we prepare our speakers for a non-English-speaking audience? How do we deal with chat if people start writing in languages other than English? Very quickly we transitioned from just simultaneous interpretation to a wide range of intercultural issues: how to structure the event? How to moderate it?
Solution
I did simultaneous interpretation
I restructured the event and the materials with intercultural details in mind
I trained the leader of the project, the speakers and the moderators
We began our cooperation with a personal intercultural consultation for the founder of the project. During 1 on 1 meetings I found out that the event was aimed at a wide audience, composed of doctors and palliative care specialists from very different countries, ranging from the Baltic states to Kazakhstan and Georgia. The client's initial request for simultaneous interpretation seemed insufficient under such circumstances. Taking into account all the cultural peculiarities of these countries, we worked out the event had to be restructured, with moderators being involved too. Thus, we outlined a list of tasks for future cooperation.

I helped the organizers with restructuring: we reduced the duration of presentations, introduced double slides in two languages, changed the surveys and added interactive materials. With the help from my team and my partners, we found and trained bilingual moderators for the event, which helped the participants understand the meeting agenda better, get acquainted and establish contact with colleagues, as well as feel more confident during breaks between the speakers’ presentations. I also explained to the moderators what nuances they should expect in translation, and helped to adjust the materials to make them more understandable for the target audience.

A large portion of my work consisted of simultaneous interpretation of the whole conference. It took place in Zoom, I interpreted in both directions, and even managed to translate chat messages with my colleagues. Thus, both the participants and the speakers were not afraid of misunderstanding the contents of the presentations and discussions, which were even more lively because of that.
Results
Working together with the client, his team, moderators and speakers, we held a successful event for 150+ participants from Eastern Europe & Central Asia, who worked in palliative care. The client shared his feedback that “my input made a significant difference: not only did I tailor my advice to his sector of palliative care, but I understood the challenges an 'outsider' would face and provided practical guidance and support to overcome them”.
I engaged Kristina when the CEO of a charity working across Eastern Europe & Central Asia asked me to provide insights into the social, cultural and workplace beliefs and practices across the region. Kristina's input made a significant difference: not only did she tailor her advice to my sector of palliative care, but she understood the challenges an outsider would face and provided practical guidance and support to overcome them.
Mike M., UK
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