FRAMINGHAM – From across the black-clothed table, that is covered in neatly stacked ESL worksheets, she proudly shares stories of all sorts from the past 10 years.
The vibrant, colorfully-decorated room matches her personality perfectly. Though the spacious room is currently unoccupied, save for three people, there is a vibrance and fullness present in the atmosphere.
Ten years ago, Drita Protopapa Dumont founded MAPA Translations & Language Solutions.
According to the company’s website, MAPA “[provides] high quality and cost effective translations, interpreter services and multilingual voice overs for public schools, academic institutions, law firms, financial institutions, non-profit organizations, medical personnel, multinational companies and individuals.”
Protopapa Dumont began her business, during the time of the recession in 2007.
She had read a statistic that only around one-third of small business make it past the first year.
However, she successfully found herself passing that one-year mark. Soon followed five years, and then 10.
“When I started reading those statistics and reading how many people make it past a year, past five years…I was like, oh, I guess this is quite an accomplishment. We should celebrate,” Protopapa Dumont said.
MAPA stands out from other translation companies in that it does not follow a cookie-cutter format. Rather, MAPA adopted a “boutique” style service that is individually tailored to each clients’ needs. Each quote, each interaction, each
“We’re going to hand-deliver everything, so to speak, to you. We’re going to make it customized to you,” Protopapa Dumont said, “What do you need? Whatever it is you need, we’ll make it happen.”
According to Mateus Almeida, MAPA’s Project Manager and Protopapa Dumont’s oldest son, on average, MAPA offers services/translations in 26-30 common languages. However, there is no language that is off limits.
Recently, a Bulgarian theatre troupe came to Massachusetts for Arts Emerson. MAPA provided Bulgarian translation services for the troupe.
There are some instances in which Protopapa Dumont and Almeida may have never even heard of the language for which a client is requesting services. However, that does not mean they do not provide the service.
According to Protopapa Dumont, through connections and bodies of professionals part of mutual organizations, such as the American Translation Association, they are able to meet all client’s needs.
“The upside of this industry is that with my phone or Skype, we can basically contact anyone in the world,” she said, “So there may be some weird, off the beaten path, languages and we don’t have somebody in Massachusetts or in Framingham or nearby that can do that language combination, but we can find them through our contacts, through our network.”
Recently, MAPA has also introduced Studio Three English, an 8-week long English instruction program. The classes, organized for adults, take place in the evenings.
While doing research, Protopapa Dumont learned from her colleagues that sometimes people had difficulty making both the financial and physical commitments to semester-long programs, such as the ones offered at Framingham State and Keefe Tech. It is for that reason she decided on 8-week long sessions.
“It’s hard because it’s a stronger economy and people are working more, and when you work more, you have less free time to devote to things,” she said.
The company started offering these classes in July, and has completed both a Summer II and a Fall session. Right now, the levels offered are: basic beginner, intermediate beginner and advanced beginner. Looking toward the future, Protopapa Dumont hopes to add an English-intensive 30-day program.
Not only does Protopapa Dumont better her community through MAPA’s work itself, she also give back to important causes. For example, several businesses had tables at MAPA’s 10-year anniversary celebration.
These causes included Downtown Framingham, Inc., Neighbor Brigade, RIA House, Amazing Things Arts Center, Performing Arts Center of MetroWest and Dignity Matters.
Inside MAPA’s office is a bin that currently houses donations for Dignity Matters. The organization takes donations of feminine hygiene products, new or very gently used bras, and new underwear.
Then, Dignity Matters, “[distributes] them to shelters, schools and organizations that can directly provide those items to women and girls,” Protopapa Dumont said.
Dignity Matters is still a relatively young organization. The founder currently runs meetings out of her house in Wayland.
Protopapa Dumont said this an opportunity to selflessly offer MAPA’s space as a place for Dignity Matters to hold meetings.
“I think it’s important that companies give back, even if they’re small ones like us,” she said, “no one’s telling me to do it, I think it’s just the right thing to do. I think it makes sense, giving back where you can and how you can.”
What is Protopapa Dumont’s secret to success? Her passion for people.
“We have people that do work for us in Peru, in Brazil, in Canada…and all of these connections make our lives better, just knowing we have these people that basically make up a part of the MAPA family. They’re basically an extension us,” Protopapa Dumont said.
Though there are some people they’ve never met, that doesn’t mean they don’t feel a certain connection. For example, Protopapa Dumont shared a story of a man in Texas who does a lot of Spanish translation work, and though they have never physically met him, “we feel so connected to him,” she said.
She views them from a business perspective, but Protopapa Dumont also views the people and organizations she works with as humans. She values them. She is grateful for them.
“I think having the physical connection with the people that work for us, that’s really the highlight. Being able to be in touch with them and being able to celebrate with them, and be in the same with them, and see them as people,” Protopapa Dumont said, “Yeah, they provide a service for us, but they’re people-they’re humans.”
She believes that they are, in part, what make the business possible. In fact, Protopapa Dumont said that if they could celebrate every month, she would.
“It’s bizarre, because our whole thing is to connect and communicate and help bridge those gaps, but yet we as individuals don’t have that opportunity to interact and be with each other,” she said.
She further explained that, for example, “There’s the triad, so it’ usually, let’s say doctor, patient, interpreter. And then you just go from one assignment to the other, you’re not working with another interpreter.”
Her solution to making these people feel less isolated? Bringing them together whenever she can.
Not only is she a well-spoken and humble individual, but Protopapa Dumont is also a person who flourishes in this unique environment.
“We have this dynamic movement of projects in that depending on the day. That variation of projects, and topics, and themes … some people don’t like that but some people thrive on it, and I definitely thrive on it.”
Ten years is certainly an accomplishment and Protopapa Dumont has shown that not only does MAPA provide excellent services for its clients, but it helps bring the community together through both its work, the connections it creates with individuals and its dedication to giving back to an organization who need it.