change, court interpreting, health care interpreting, interpreter life, Personal

A Day in the Life of a 2020 Interpreter

Happy International Translation Day 2021! Please enjoy this post that I wrote for ITD last year, but didn’t publish until now.

As usual, there’s no one day that looks “typical”–Even working from home hasn’t changed that. So let me tell you about yesterday.

It was a busy one: a three-hour remote simultaneous interpreting (RSI) job that started at 10am, followed by a 90 minute online class for conference interpreters based in Brazil, and just enough time in between to catch my breath and work on some other projects.

Frank the kitten is all grown up!

6:30am: My alarm sounds, and I put the coffee on while I stretch, journal, and ease into my day. Remember my kitten Frankie who I’d adopted right before I published last year’s a day in the life post? He’s all grown up now, and loves to stretch out with me in the morning.

7:30am: My husband is awake now, and we head out for a walk. I just relocated from the Midwest to Houston, and I’m still acclimating to the weather. Over the weekend, the really intense humidity broke and we have much cooler temps in the mornings–Perfect for walking and getting a little movement in before jumping into work.

8:30am: Showered and with a belly full of breakfast, I read aloud some of the documents I’ve prepared in Spanish for today’s job. I feel those usual pre-interpreting butterflies, so I practice some breathing exercises and check in with myself. Today I’m working with a partner I really love, as well as a new teammate who I really like but haven’t worked with before. Our tech rehearsal went well last week, and I’m ready. I turn the “fun” switch on.

9:00am: Logging onto the platform for mic check, morning greetings with the client leadership team, checking the backchannel to communicate with my partner and our colleague who’s on tech support, with plenty of time left over for some last-minute stretching and a coffee refill.

Good times with RSI!

10:00am: And we’re off! I’ve got the first turn on this RSI job. All’s well, the speakers all sound great, and for the next few hours my partner and I pass the mic back and forth, and are able to help each other remotely. We’ve worked together many times before, and each time we find a new way to make our teamwork go even better.

1:00pm: Debrief with my partner. This is a habit we have, where we very briefly go over what went well and what could have gone better. Unless we absolutely don’t have time, we like to do this immediately following a job so the experience is fresh in our minds.

1:30pm: Lunch.

2:00pm: Nap.

2:30pm: Today I’m double and triple-checking the upcoming social media posts for Seven Sisters Interpreter Training & Consulting, where I’m a partner and I do most of our social media-ing. This week we launched our new 3-day intensive course, and a lot of work from the team went into making sure everything was just right before we announced it. I spend some time looking for articles, podcasts, and events to share on our channels, and queue up our posts for October.

3:30pm: Grading! I left my position teaching undergrads last year, and this year I started teaching an online healthcare interpreting course for Glendon, where I finished my graduate work in conference interpreting in 2016. As any instructor will tell you, if you don’t keep up with grading, it buries you pretty quickly. It’s a breeze though, as I’m really enjoying reading about my students’ initial impressions of healthcare interpreting and walking them through their first steps in deliberate practice.

4:30pm: Prepping for my online interpreting class that begins in an hour. This course is totally different than my Glendon course. This is for i2B, a non-academic program based in Brazil, and I’m working with interpreters who are getting their simultaneous interpreting skills off the ground and (for the most part) are working into an English B from Portuguese. Here, the focus is the delivery into English and the topics we work with are broad and interesting. I’ve worked with i2B for a few years now, and I love it. Through working with the students in this program, I’ve become very interested in Brazilian culture and language. In fact, this week I have my very first Portuguese lesson!

2020 is a rich year for interpreting memes!

5:30pm: And they’re off! The students take turns interpreting and listening, and we rotate between interpreting rounds, feedback in pairs, and large group debriefs where I give my impressions. The 90 minutes of this class fly by, as usual.

7:00pm: Tuesdays are usually long for me, since I teach in the evenings. Fortunately, there’s a taco truck in the parking lot of my building, and dinner is served.

This day was a bit longer than most, with a lot more screen time than I normally shoot for. On days when I’m not logged on for long stretches of interpreting and teaching, I make it a point to break up my day with off-line reading and journaling.

This year has truly changed my work, which doesn’t make me different from anyone else. The bulk of my work has shifted from mostly court work to mostly conference work, and I’ve returned to teaching. I’ve also worked a lot more on the interpreting intensive courses I run with my partners at Seven Sisters.

Pre-pandemic, I was already doing a lot of work online, and had been doing RSI from home for a few years. This made it easier to transition, in addition to the fact that while my husband has transitioned to working from home, we’ve never had a scheduling conflict where both of us needs the office at the same time.

The biggest change to my days lately has been the isolation. No surprise there. Pre-pandemic, I routinely met friends and colleagues for co-working or happy hour (or co-working disguised as happy hour). It was easy to walk to the coffee shop across the street from me for a change of scenery, and to work among other humans. I could easily visit my family. With all of that gone, I’ve had to fill that void with something, and on a positive note, I’ve had a chance to dive back into language learning, and I’ve explored some other hobbies, like playing guitar and drawing.

Whatever 2021 brings, I’m grateful to have the resources and the network to have adapted to the changes 2020 brought. How has 2020 changed your work life?

[You can read my Day in the Life post from 2019 here.]

court interpreting, interpreter life, leadership for interpreters, medical interpreting, new interpreters, Personal, self discovery for interpreters

What I’ve Learned in 8 Years of Blogging

When I started this blog in 2012, I was thinking of applying to graduate school, and a friend told me that I should start to develop an online presence to give myself an edge over other applicants. He told me an easy way to do that was through blogging. Easy! Ha.

I’m not sure if it gave me an edge applying to grad school, but I did learn that it’s not actually that easy, and if you do it right, a blog can work for you in ways that you hadn’t thought of. My blog is something I hold very dear. It’s something I created from nothing, that I can share and use to connect with others. It’s followed me through lots of ups and downs. Here, I’m sharing with you the highlights of what I’ve learned in 8 years of blogging.

Continue reading “What I’ve Learned in 8 Years of Blogging”
change, court interpreting, grad school, health care interpreting, interpreter life, interpreter services, leadership for interpreters, medical interpreting, new interpreters, self discovery for interpreters

“Getting It”: One Interpreter’s Reflections on Jonathan Downie’s Interpreters vs Machines

Known for his “troublesome” pushing back against the status quo, Dr Jonathan Downie structures Interpreters vs Machines: Can Interpreters Survive in an AI-Dominated World?— his second book — as a game, and invites us to play.

The robots are pretty cute, actually.

OK, I’m in.

He speaks from his experience as a researcher and conference interpreter, but from the beginning he brings us all into the fold– spoken and signed language interpreters in every setting. No matter where we’re working, we’d all do well to pause and reflect on how we understand and talk about our work. The fundamentals of what we do and how we talk about it to clients also seem relevant to my previous work in running an interpreter services department in the healthcare setting, where even though in theory, the services were required by law and hospital policy, in practice, we still very much had to sell interpreter services (even though the service came at no cost to the users!).

Continue reading ““Getting It”: One Interpreter’s Reflections on Jonathan Downie’s Interpreters vs Machines
court certification, court interpreting, grad school, health care interpreting, interpreter life, interpreter services, Interpreter Training, language access, leadership for interpreters, medical interpreting, new interpreters, Personal, self discovery for interpreters, teaching and training, working with interpreters

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Interpreter

As a freelance Spanish interpreter working in legal, court, and conference settings, my days vary. A lot.

Working from the booth, one of my favorite places to be!

A bit of background first: I’ve been in the freelance market for two years now, and it’s been three years since I finished my graduate work in interpreting. Before grad school, I worked as a staff interpreter and an interpreter services supervisor for about ten years. Before that, I worked as a subcontracted interpreter for an agency for a couple years while I was finishing my bachelor’s degree in Spanish, and for a while after I finished undergrad. So while I’m not new in interpreting, I’m still pretty new as a freelancer.

Continue reading “A Day in the Life of a Freelance Interpreter”
court interpreting

For the Record: A Healthcare Interpreter in Court

Can a healthcare interpreter work in court? With the right training and a little courage, sure!
Can a healthcare interpreter work in court? With the right training and a little courage, sure!

I wonder how many healthcare interpreters there are out there like me, who are dipping their toes in the waters of legal and court interpreting.  At a certain point, you just have to go out there and do it.  After passing my state certification exams, and two grad school courses in court interpreting, I couldn’t put it off anymore.  It’s scary to go do something new after having spent over a decade in healthcare, so here are some tips that might help someone who’s one step behind me.

Where do I go?  I’ve had the training, I’ve memorized the terminology and the set phrases, I know what our ethical principles are.  But the most uncomfortable part?  I don’t know where to go.  I don’t know who to report to.  I haven’t yet been to the same place twice.  Sometimes it’s easy.  I go to an assignment in a private office, and they’re waiting for me.  Other times, like in court, I don’t know who to check in with.  I don’t want to talk too loud when I ask where to go, and then have the judge shoosh me.  I don’t want to go where I’m not supposed to go.  I’m getting better at scoping out the bailiff, who is a good person to check in with.  I’ve gotten to court assignments early just to sit and observe who all the players are.  Just settling in to the environment helps ease my anxiety about where I should be. Continue reading “For the Record: A Healthcare Interpreter in Court”