Special Edition Blog: International Translation & Interpretation Day 2019

Each year, on September 30th, translators, interpreters and language professionals around the world celebrate International Translation Day. The day was chosen to fall on the feast of St. Jerome, the patron saint of translators. Originally established by the International Federation of Translators in 1953, the United Nations General Assembly officially declared the day an international holiday in 2017 in recognition of language professionals’ role in fostering peace, understanding and development. This year’s theme is the interpretation and translation of indigenous languages. While these languages are disappearing at alarming rates, they play a vital role in the preservation and continuance of cultural diversity worldwide.

At Stratus Video, our interpreters facilitate communication between healthcare providers and patients with limited English proficiency, who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing, ensuring meaningful access to healthcare information. In honor of International Translation Day, we are featuring several of our talented medical interpreters who shared with us how they became an interpreter and what they love most about interpreting.

Here are their stories:

Deborah García Sánchez

How Deborah Became an Interpreter:

I started to walk down the interpretation road around 12 years ago. I used to help my German-American brother in-law complete business transactions for his furniture company, mainly for customs, purchase, design and transportation. The company he used to buy the furniture from was a local small-town family business in Mexico. The family was very excited to have me help them through their transactions, so they asked me to help with other clients too. They thought it would be a great way to increase sales outside of Mexico. At first, I did it for free, and not just for them, but for other people too. I just wanted to help. They were so grateful that they insisted on paying for my services even though I refused. Eventually, along with completing my bachelor’s and master's degrees, I also completed many workshops and became certified. That is how I became part of the interpreting community.

What Deborah Loves Most About Interpreting:

I love interpreting. It's more than a job for me. As a mother of two, and even more so since I lost my grandparents who raised me, interpreting for children and seniors is extra special for me. I like to treat them with the same patience and love as I would if they were my own family. Each session with a senior is a chance for me to see the loving eyes of my late grandparents.

What I love the most about being a medical interpreter is the opportunity to help, to lend my voice and language skills to those who need them the most - the powerful embrace that peaks out through a patient's 'thank you'.

The word “translation” comes, etymologically, from the Latin phrase “bearing across”. As an interpreter, it is our job to enhance communication and help improve the clinical care by mitigating risks. But to be honest, we carry across much more, and that is something I am happy and proud to do.

¡Feliz día internacional del intérprete y traductor!

Juan Diaz Peña

How Juan Became an Interpreter:

I used to do customer service, however I was already growing tired of it. I am not one to like rigid structures. Interpretation is not black and white, and although we follow a code of ethics, there is not a rule book to tell you exactly which of the many decisions is the right one, each encounter is different, there is some freedom in that.

I decided to keep up with interpretation, as I realized the challenge this occupation entails. At times, it is not simple, but wrapping up a session knowing that you did good and gave peace of mind to the patient and conveyed the plan as pictured by the provider, is an awesome feeling.

What Juan Loves Most About Interpreting:

Being able to convey humor and jokes. Good jokes and humor stem from spontaneity, so if one gets to the point where they can get the patient or provider to laugh at the humor of their interlocutor, you know you have a job well done.

Jesus Gonzalez Perez

How Jesus Became an Interpreter:

Whether needing to instill discipline and be kindly firm or be playfully funny while trying to show a colorful view of life for my young mind as a child, my grandfather had a musicality in nuances and mannerisms that influenced my love of language and communication.

Even if I grew up bilingually and with an inability to watch subtitled movies in my language-pair without translating every single phrase in my mind, I couldn't imagine I would become a professional interpreter and how rewarding of a career it would be.

What Jesus Loves Most About Interpreting:

Making this a career path to me has meant challenging myself constantly; trying to become the best not only at what I do but learning from the experts in the many fields that I've had the privilege of serving.  This ultimately represents to me a personal gratification in playing a real part of a connection between different cultures, which otherwise might not have had an opportunity for mutual experience and growth.

Alejandra Chaverri-Monge

How Alejandra Became an Interpreter:

This is an interesting story. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I remember I desperately needed a job, so I attended a job fair back in 2012, walked by a stand that was about language services, asked a few questions and was directed to fill out an online application. Then I went through a selection process consisting of several interviews, tests and training. And I finally got the job. Another fun fact here: I thought this was just going to be temporary, a stepping stone…and here I am, loving it every day!

What Alejandra Loves Most About Interpreting:

Tough question…um, everything! Well, besides being able to learn new things on an ongoing basis, I really love the fact that every session is a chance for us to positively impact people´s lives in so many unexpected ways. That is rewarding to me!

Cristina Villanueva Castillo

How Cristina Became an Interpreter:

I decided to leave my job in January 2015 because I wanted to find new challenges. In May, I was recruited as an interpreter. I didn’t know I had the ability to go back and forth between both languages quickly. I am very talkative and love learning. (I always say learning is fun).

Anatomy class and Greco-Latin etymologies came in handy after all, several years later! After working as a customer service interpreter for about 6 months, I was promoted to be a medical interpreter.

What Cristina Loves Most About Interpreting:

Learning, of course! I love learning new medical terms and vocabulary. This job is rewarding! I feel blessed and humbled by all of the medical knowledge I have had the opportunity to gain.

Jonathan Alejandro Parra Sanchez

How Jonathan Became an Interpreter:

My first experience with interpretation happened in Kansas. I went to a doctor’s appointment with my grandmother, and there was no one available to interpret for us, so the doctor asked me to interpret for her and my grandmother. I was only 14 years old at the time. After about a 30-minute consultation, the doctor said I did great, and she is the one that told me that interpreters existed. After I finished high school, I got my first interpreting job. I later became a Medical Specialized Interpreter (MSI) and joined Stratus on May 6th, 2019.

What Jonathan Loves Most About Interpreting:

What I love the most about interpreting is the fact that you are able to make an impact on someone's life. Whether you are helping an LEP schedule an appointment or assisting on delivering a baby, the satisfaction you get for just being there making a difference is unbelievable.

From all of us here at Stratus Video, Happy International Translation & Interpretation Day!

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