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Dear Ivonne,

So good to hear from you :) and thank you for your kind words. In your comment you echoed many of my observations and sentiments. I find that being an interpreter is pretty tough, especially as we, as you said, often end up dealing with very underprivileged people, many at the end of their rope. Even interpreting over the phone can be very unpleasant. I interpret for all the benefit offices in the UK, and I wish I never took part in some of the conversations. Indifferent "helpline" workers telling people with seven children who are on the brink of eviction, making minimum wage, that their "case is being processed" and that they have to wait... not one month or two, but often it's years!!! The frustration of people who send their application only to find out it has been lost, or the office lost their and their children's birth-certificates, or their info "has not yet been put into the system". I cringe when I have to interpret these stupidities. I've had people burst into tears from the frustration of not getting any help, and not receiving the money they were entitled to for their families.  

I'm sure you will remember that interpreters' job is to be, first and foremost, impartial. And everyone drills it into us during our training. No matter what you think or how you feel about what's going on, you can't have any of your own input. Even if you KNOW something's wrong (i.e. a man saying he's just arrived in the country when you remember interpreting for him 6 months ago, as it happened to me.) I find that infuriating, and for that reason I prefer yoga as a job to interpreting... I get to create a meaningful contact and help someone instead of being just a word-processor. A good interpreter is supposed to be the one who is so inobtrusive that it's as if he/she were not there at all... and "not being there" is a pretty hard thing to do, especially when this "not being there" challenges all your basic values.

"If you cannot say what you have to say in twenty minutes, you should go away and write a book about it." Lord Brabazon

by Barbara on Sat Jan 12th, 2008 at 06:26:54 AM EST
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