Being an interpreter - the highs, the lows, the isolation, the segregation, the friends and the family
Becoming a BSL/English Interpreter is one of the most significant and life-impacting things that I have ever done. This career has allowed me to work in settings I never imagined, support people to become the best they can and make a whole new group of colleagues and friends that I would not have met otherwise.
It has allowed me to progress and develop into a professional who wants to give the best they can and strives to improve every day.
Even with this, there is a darker side to being an Interpreter that is not often not discussed. At times, being an interpreter can be quite isolating. You can go days without seeing anyone who you have a real and meaningful relationship with, other than fleeting meetings and bookings with people we see on a regular basis.
More worrying, is that people can be either intentionally or unintentionally segregated from the ’in’ crowd for something as simple as having an opinion that does not match the consensus or for something as trivial as being a member of a different professional association.
Let's think about what this means, would this fit into the category of Bullying? Being a bad person? Or just being so busy that we don't consider the consequences of our actions? Should people be asking who you are a member of? Or should they be asking how we are feeling?
Let’s face it, we are all guilty of doing or saying something and then later regretting it. Yet, do we ever truly self-reflect on how the decisions we make can make another person feel?
You can’t be an interpreter without having a meaningful and robust devotion to the job, but it’s important to remember that it is, for all intents and purposes, a job. Yet, at times the actions of others can filter through to our personal life.
Don't get me wrong; the interpreting community is far from a negative environment. I have met some of the most welcoming, supportive and inclusive people in this world. But actually, do we spend enough time getting to know the people we work with? Know them as a person, know their views, thoughts and feelings? Or do we all make presumptions based on what others have said or think? Do we have preconceptions of people without giving them a chance?
Do we take time to sit down and have a coffee with the people who choose to do the same job as us and find out what makes them tick? Do we accept them as a person first and an interpreter second?
We as a community have moved so far forward in becoming a profession, however, let's not forget we are people, individuals with feelings at the end of the day. Let's think more about how our actions could impact upon someone else. Let's give people a break, allow them to make mistakes without writing them off forever.
Ask someone for a coffee, find out what the first CD they bought is, who is important to them and ask them how they are doing.
Most importantly, let's be nice to each other!
Have a great weekend!
Author: Daryl McMullan