Skip to main content

Human Solidarity Day card of hands united in heart

On Feb. 27, a translator working for German media outlet Welt broke down in tears as she interpreted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s speech.

Not long after, another translator, this one male, choked up while translating a Zelenskyy speech into English.

During a time when we need as many reminders of kindness and caring as we can find, our hats are off to these two translators for letting their humanity shine a light on what’s happening overseas.

Sure, journalists and interpreters are supposed to remain impartial. We get that, and most of the time, that’s a good thing. World events like this one though are a bit different. It’s nearly impossible to tune into any news outlet these days without headlines from the war in Ukraine dominating the coverage, as well they should. But when we are constantly bombarded with bad news, it’s only natural to put up a defense and occasionally tune out what we need to hear and see as if our very own lives depended on it.

The tears of these two translators serve as a fitting reminder — and not a moment too soon — that we must not lose sight of what is happening overseas. We must not allow Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to go unnoticed.

In case you missed it, here are the words that Dr. Kateryna Rietz-Rakul managed to translate before choking up:

“Russia is on the path of evil, Russia must loose (sic) its voice in the UN.

“Ukraine, we definitely know…” (This is when she paused.) “what we are defending”.. (Her voice breaks.)

And then, she took a deep breath in and said “sorry”.

After her tweet of apology — “I’m a conference interpreter, I interpret 10 hrs peace talks. But today live on German TV I couldn’t finish interpreting Zelensky, during his last words I broke into tears. I love you all, my fellow Ukrainians.” — Rietz-Rakul was at the receiving end of an outpouring of support. Twitter user CaliforniaHeartBavariaHome wrote “You interpreted with more than words. And that was completely appropriate. Many cried with you this morning. You did not need to apologize.”

We at Metafraze want to take this moment to thank these translators for allowing their humanity to peek through the constraints of their chosen profession. It’s only when we cry and grieve with our fellow man that we can hold any hope of vanquishing the enemy causing the suffering.

May our collective humanity shine bright in the days and weeks to come, and may the Ukrainian people find the strength and courage to continue their brave fight.

Leave a Reply