Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Impressions of a Court Interpreting Workshop

I've always been fascinated by different languages and cultures and I started cultivating this passion when I was young. For me it was like a fun game: how do you say this in English? How do you say this in Spanish? However, when I decided to go to university and study languages, I hadn't considered a career in translation or interpreting. I didn't even know such thing existed!

When I found out that some professionals were being paid to facilitate communication between people coming from different cultures, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do. My first choice was interpreting, but for different reasons that I won't explain in this post, I ended up starting my own translation business and working for American and international clients. And guess what? I love doing it.

However, somewhere inside me there still is a passion for interpreting. The face to face interaction, the adrenaline of the moment, the mental acuity necessary to perform the interpretation have always intrigued me. So, last week I attended a workshop on Advanced Court Interpreter Skills, organized by Cross Thread Solutions (CTSOL). The workshop was conducted by Bruno Romero, the Interpreter Services Program manager of the Supreme Court of Ohio, and it covered general information as well as more specific aspects linked to court interpreting. You'll be able to view my tweets posted during the event on my Twitter account (@damicotransl).

The workshop gathered about 50 participants, representing a lot of different countries and coming from different backgrounds. Some of them have been court interpreters for a long time, others focus on medical interpreting, some are full-time, and others do interpreting as a side job. No matter the specifics, everyone was there with a common objective: learning more about court interpreting.

With my training as a conference interpreter, I was already aware of the basics of the profession, such as that the interpreter always speaks in the first person and has to convey faithfully and accurately the message the speaker says in the other language, but I had no experience with US courts. Bruno's presentation was very interesting and relevant: it provided a general overview of the US judicial system, highlighting among other things the role of each court and the procedures and terminology the interpreter needs to know and understand. In addition, it gave a clear, realistic picture of what goes on when an interpreter is needed in a US court or during other types of interactions with non English speakers.

The presentation was highly interactive and participants were encouraged to ask questions, share their experience and express their opinions. We received simple quizzes to test our knowledge of a subject before the speaker went into detail and were actively involved in discussing how to solve challenging situations and scenarios.

Kudos go also to CTSOL for their organizational skills, showing great commitment to their interpreters and clients. The day went very smoothly: we were greeted at the registration desk, coffees and refreshments were available at the beginning and during the breaks, and lunch was included in the minimal workshop registration fee. I was really impressed with this event and it reignited in me the desire to explore more opportunities in the field. 

Once again, professional conferences, workshops and events are an excellent venue to meet colleagues, exchange expertise and learn more about the profession. There is great value in networking and professional development, and I will certainly keep attending similar gatherings in the future. I encourage you to do the same!

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