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”
change, health care interpreting, Interpreter Training, medical interpreting, new interpreters, self discovery for interpreters, teaching and training

Swimming, Interpreting, and Reflexions On Experiential Learning

Somewhere near the beginning of this semester, I took up swimming. A few lessons in, my teacher introduced the breast stroke. “Arms, legs, and gliiiide”, she told me. But I couldn’t get my arms and legs right for the glide. She told me the breast stroke is a resting stroke. But it was so effortful, just to move forward a tiny bit. My shoulders hurt. My neck hurt from holding up my head when I felt like I was pulling myself underwater so long I couldn’t come up for a breath. Continue reading “Swimming, Interpreting, and Reflexions On Experiential Learning”

conference interpreter training, grad school, Interpreter Training, new interpreters, self discovery for interpreters

Yes, conference interpreting is a thing

A view from the training booth!

During grad school, when I was living in Toronto and constantly traveling back and forth between the US and Canada, I got used to this question as the customs agent saw the student visa in my passport: What are you studying? It took me a while to come up with a short answer, because when I said, “conference interpreting”, I was just met with more questions about what conference interpreting actually is, as if I’d made it up. Continue reading “Yes, conference interpreting is a thing”

change, Personal, self discovery for interpreters

La Despedida (The Farewell)

IMG_3757At my first job as a hospital staff interpreter, my colleagues would scold me because I would never saludar–say hello–at the beginning of the workday (I will just never be a morning person). They’d also razz me because I’d never despedirme–say goodbye–at the end of the workday when I’d leave to go home. I’d just slip out quietly, usually after a very tough and very busy day of healthcare interpreting. La despedida–the goodbye, the farewell–has never been my strong suit.

Earlier this year, in July, I said my goodbyes to the house that I bought the summer I turned 30 and then rented out this summer–the summer I turned 40. So many great (and not-so-great) parts of my life unfolded in that house, but I know that I can keep all those parts of my life and all those memories without still living in the house. I don’t need that house anymore. Somebody else lives there now, but after I left I’d still catch myself just about to suggest dinner or drinks at my favorite neighborhood haunts. But, I’m not there anymore. Farewell, house. Farewell, neighborhood. Farewell, all the places where I met with friends, debriefed after a rough day, plotted and schemed, planned so many of my next moves–including grad school and my move to Toronto–over drinks. Continue reading “La Despedida (The Farewell)”

self discovery for interpreters

That Interpreter’s Holiday

I went on holiday this March.  That Interpreter’s holiday?  “Well, you know, 2012 was a crap year for me and I came here to mark a new beginning for myself.”  This is what I was thinking when someone at the yoga retreat in Costa Rica asked me how I’d ended up there.  From experience, I know that this kind of answer makes people uncomfortable, so I went with the more palatable, “I just needed some time away from work.”

Who doesn’t? Continue reading “That Interpreter’s Holiday”

self discovery for interpreters

Christmas Miracles?

(Spoiler Alert!  That Interpreter believes in Christmas miracles.)

How do you say, “Christmas miracle” in Spanish?  OK, it’s meant to be a rhetorical question, but if you wanna leave your Spanish-language (or any-language!) version of “Christmas miracle” in the comments, go for it.  And in turn, I’ll give you my version of “Christmas miracle”.

Albert Einstien said (or wrote?), “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  Continue reading “Christmas Miracles?”

self discovery for interpreters

Jump In and Swim

guitar-1534599Why had I waited so long?  Last year, I started taking guitar lessons, with the guitar that I’d gotten for Christmas.  In 1999.  If you’re counting, that was over ten years ago.  Since 1999, had I been so busy and important that I couldn’t squeeze in a weekly half hour music lesson?  I’ll give you a hint:  I was/am not that busy and important.  I was terrified.  Terrified of not discovering I was a guitar virtuoso.  Of not getting it perfect on the first try.  Of looking like an awkward beginner instead of an awesome rock star.  My guitar teacher intuited this fear, and he was polite enough to wait through several months of me timidly picking at my guitar before he told me, “You gotta stop being scared of your guitar.  You gotta jump in and swim.” Continue reading “Jump In and Swim”

health care interpreting, new interpreters, self discovery for interpreters

How did I get here?

Like most (all?) medical interpreters, I never imagined myself working in such a job.

When I came home after a year of study abroad at the University of Costa Rica, with less than a year of classes till graduation, I ditched school and began my restaurant career.  The original plan was to make some quick money waitressing and head back to Costa Rica.  I ended up in the kitchen.  I worked with a lot of good guys who spoke Spanish, cooking Italian food.  Lasagna.  Pasta Bolognese.  Tiramisu.  We made friends.  I made friends with their friends.  They asked me to take their friends and their friends to the doctor.

Holy crap.  How do you say “gallbladder” in Spanish?  “Your Spanish is so good”, they’d say.  “Why don’t you get a job as an interpreter at the hospital?” Continue reading “How did I get here?”