Saturday, February 3, 2018

Updates and new interpreting adventures!

I thought I'd write a practical post about what I've learned and what I've been up to over the last few months in my interpreting practice. I've been working steadily to grow my practice, to meet new clients, and to build my skills so that I can provide ever better service and better access to services to clients that need me to handle their person-to-person communication.

Over the past few months, I've started a wonderful relationship with Ayuda, the interpreter bank in DC funded by the DC Bar to provide free interpreter services to pro-bono lawyers. Some of my favorite assignments have come from Ayuda: meetings about discovery in ongoing cases, immigration clinics, asylum cases, and more. As a lawyer-to-be myself, all of it is fascinating, and all of it a learning experience.

I've also had the opportunity to take on my first conferences, something I've been wanting to do (but was too afraid to do) for a long time. Despite the fact that I've been trained to do the work, and educated on protocols and professionalism, I just felt like the stakes were too high or the work too demanding. However, I took the plunge when I accepted an assignment from one of my agencies that was a series of presentations for new students at a local charter school for adult education...and when that went off without a hitch, I felt like I could accept more complex simultaneous work. Last week, I was booked and gathered together an interpreter team for a brilliant conference on Economic and Policy Leadership for the Women of Color Network. I rented the SI equipment from another colleague, put together a collaborative spreadsheet of terminology based on the documents that the organizers sent us ahead of time (a dream to work with them; I've heard horror stories of interpreters not getting presentation materials until the 11th hour and then being expected to be ready to interpret flawlessly on the day of the conference), and by the time the conference rolled around, I was ready to interpret at the top of my game. It's a miracle, really, when you are on the mic and hearing and processing what the speaker says in perfect time to deliver a fluid and at times even elegant interpretation.

Side note for my fellow interpreters: the WOCN found me because of my NAJIT membership, so keep those memberships up to date. Not just for work, of course: I've learned so much by participating in the NAJIT Facebook, which is truly a repository of interpreting experience and excellence. It also helps to participate in these forums to stay up to date on what is happening within the industry, from what agencies are hiring and are good to work for to the scams that are going around. Unfortunately, given the need to be on the constant lookout for work, a lot of interpreters and translators are targeted by unscrupulous individuals and agencies. Watch out for poorly written emails, messy websites, and mysterious requests for your CV: all of these are signs of less than honest dealing. When in doubt, ask your colleagues! 

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