On May 2, 2022, we welcomed Kahlil B Thomas as the new Translations Coordinator at the Philadelphia Office of Immigrant Affairs. We’re excited to introduce him to you.
Kahlil will coordinate the implementation of the project Translation Services Expansion for Phila.gov, and his position is funded by the Operations Transformation Fund. He will set up the standards for translations while liaising between city agencies, contracted linguists, and language access stakeholders.
We asked Kahlil some questions to get to know him better.
What brought you to working with the City?
I came to Philly looking for a diverse community to love and serve. Service was a huge part of my family culture growing up, and I’ve always found the most joy in working with and for people. If service is my heart, language is my hands and feet. Learning new languages has helped me serve more people than I could have before, and serve them better. When I heard the City was looking for someone to help out in that vein, it was irresistible.
What does “Language Access” mean to you?
This is everyone’s city. Language Access means making sure that’s true in function. Philly is home to dozens of language communities, and Language Access means we work continuously to see their wants and needs are addressed with care, respect, and equity. There’s nothing more beautiful to me than seeing our City thriving, whether it be in Mandarin, Portuguese, ASL, English, or anything else. We can (and do) still work together!
What do you do outside of this work?
In my home hours I’m a musician: I mostly play guitar, but I dabble with other instruments. I love analyzing films and video games with friends, and I’ve recently been getting into VR! A good podcast about true crime, sociology or history can take up hours of my day, especially if it’s in another language.
Your name means a lot to you: can you tell a little about why?
It has a unique spelling. My mom named me after her favorite poet and philosopher:
” Words are timeless. You should utter them or write them with a knowledge of their timelessness.”
What is your experience of Philly so far?
Philly is a dream for a language lover. Within a block or two from my home, I can visit Korean-speaking shops, Arabic-speaking restaurants, or Spanish-speaking neighbors. I’ve started making friends in the community just by showing interest in some of their languages, and there’s so much fun and beauty here in plain sight. I love making new Philly friends and finding out just how much Philly has to offer.