Breakthrough: Multilingual employees help communities in need

Boeing employees share their experiences as volunteer translators and interpreters for nonprofit partner Tarjimly

June 30, 2023 in Community

Tatiana Agapova understands what it’s like to move to a new place and to need to adjust to a new culture and new language. Agapova, a Boeing Commercial Airplanes manufacturing engineer, started at Boeing in 2006 at the Moscow Design Center, then relocated to Dubai in October 2022, and finally to Everett, Wash., where she moved in March 2023. 

“I can relate to people who find themselves in a foreign country not understanding a word they hear, and without any clue what happens next,” Agapova said. “If I have the ability to save someone even a part of this trouble, that’s the least I should do.”

It’s this experience that motivated her to volunteer with Boeing nonprofit partner, Tarjimly, a translation app that connects multilingual volunteers with people in need of language assistance. 

“In one instance, I translated for a nonprofit that was helping refugees from Ukraine,” said Agapova, who speaks Ukrainian, Russian and English. “It was inspirational to see how much it’s done for their physical and emotional wellbeing and integration into local culture.”

Agapova and Boeing employees in nine countries have offered their language skills as volunteer translators or interpreters with Tarjimly. They have helped 136 refugees and asylum seekers.

Martin Mendoza, a structural analysis engineer based in Oklahoma City, has previous experience as a medical translator. Through Tarjimly, he helped translate flyers advertising the distribution of goods and services available to Ukrainian refugees.

“These types of interactions show me how complicated such relatively basic tasks can be for a refugee,” said Mendoza, who speaks Spanish, Ukrainian, Romanian, Russian and English. “I enjoy languages and helping people understand each other. I feel glad to be able to help clear at least small obstacles that exist due to language barriers.”

Boeing employees provided language assistance through Tarjimly in a total of 11 languages for a variety of topics including health, education, employment and housing. 

“The notifications come right to your phone, so if you happen to be available, you can just select ‘yes’ to respond,” said Valentina Ulyanova, a procurement analyst in Mesa, Ariz., who speaks Russian and helped with a translation at a driver’s license office. “It’s easy to get started. Boeing is full of people with a variety of skills and talents, and this is a great way to make an impact.”