Meet the FACE Office Multilingual Family Support Unit!

The Multilingual Family Support Unit has a team of people charged with supporting language access for multilingual families and students. There are seven Language Access Coordinators (LACs) and a bilingual Customer Support Liaison, a group of dedicated linguists who are responsible (among many other things) for translating District-wide and school-specific documents. The in-house team translates documents in six of the District’s eight languages: Albanian, Arabic, Chinese, French, Khmer, and Spanish. (Russian and Vietnamese are done off-site.) These talented individuals love all elements of language and culture, come from various parts of the world, and their academic and life experiences enrich and inform the work they do. Meet the team!

Eduard Papaj (Albanian/Greek)

Mr. Papaj was born in Albania where he lived until his family migrated to Greece when he was 8 years old and he arrived in the U.S. when he was 16 years old. He and his family know and understand too well the challenges faced by immigrants, like the difficulty communicating and finding jobs, making friends, and starting a new life in a new environment. He has been an interpreter and translator for 17 years and holds a Master’s Degree in School Counseling and a Certificate in mental health.

Dr. Elkhattab Abdelgadir Elhassan (Arabic)

Dr. Elhassan was born in Sudan to a mother who is a retired teacher and to a father who was supportive of education. He obtained a medical degree in his native country, and moved to the settled in Philadelphia in 2002. He is very involved with the Sudanese and Arabic-speaking communities in Philadelphia. He began his tenure with the District working as a Bilingual Counseling Assistant in different schools, and has been a Language Access Coordinator since January 2018.

Xu-Hong Wang (Chinese Mandarin)

Ms. Wang came to Philadelphia in 2008, and has been working as a Language Access Coordinator for eight years. Her language pair is Chinese-Mandarin and English. She has always been interested in language and translation and is glad that she can act as a bridge and facilitate the communication between the District staff and the immigrant students and families with limited English proficiency.

Dr. Jean-Claude Djereke (French)

Dr. Djereke came from the Cote d’Ivoire. He has taught French at Drexel University, Temple University, and Delaware County Community College. He spent 5 years at the Sorbonne University in France where he obtained his Ph.D. in religion and politics. He believes that that experience gave him the opportunity to learn more about French language. One of his favorite French writers is Emile Zola and he agrees with him when he states that “truth and righteousness are sovereign, for they alone assure the greatness of nations.”

Thavro Phim (Khmer/Cambodian)

Mr. Phim has been actively involved with the Cambodian community in South Philadelphia where he teaches Cambodian dance and shares his extensive knowledge of Cambodian culture with Cambodian youth and the community at large. He is a graduate of the Cambodian School of Fine Arts and was a dance teacher before moving to the United States.

Inés Gorban-Pheulpin (Spanish)

Ms. Gorban-Pheulpin is originally from Argentina and her family immigrated to the U.S. when she was 6 years old. She moved to Philadelphia to complete her graduate studies at University of Pennsylvania and she has lived in the area since 1998. Ms. Gorban-Pheulpin holds a Master’s degree in Spanish Literature and has taught Spanish at universities and independent schools for several years. She was a founding member of the School Advisory Council at her children’s school and she is happy to be here at FACE serving the multilingual community.

Silvana Gambardella (Spanish)

Ms. Gambardella is from Chile, the daughter of Italian immigrants and the proud mother of an 11-year-old boy and a 13-year-old cat. Her family is multiracial, multilingual, and very diverse in every way, so she feels right at home in the wonderful mix of families that populate the School District of Philadelphia. Her background is in literature and philosophy, and she enjoys playing with words all day long at her job, translating documents to and from Spanish, interpreting for families, and coordinating the work of her colleagues that speak hundreds of languages. She feels like a human bridge, which is the best thing to be!

Descartes Jean Baptiste (Haitian Creole/French)

Mr. Baptiste comes from Haiti and has lived in the United States for about five years. He is currently a senior at Temple University. He loves languages, is passionate about numbers, and enjoys helping the multilingual families and supporting newcomer students.