I decided to give myself a nice birthday gift this year, and there was nothing better than going to observe my mentor, Luz De-Castro Olaya, as she worked as a court interpreter! It was one of the few times I did not mind waking up very early in the morning, being that I am a night owl without a doubt, and not letting a little incident (cutting my finger almost to the bone), stop me from going to watch her and learn from her.
As I arrived at the Courthouse in Shelby, NC, I was excited and a tad nervous. In my mind, I pictured going into a high security building, with lawyers in suits walking all over the place like they owned it. As I went in, I was actually surprised to see how friendly all of the security guards were, and how laid back the environment was.
I entered the courtroom where Luz was waiting for me, and I saw her sitting right next to the court officials. At that point, I am thinking I am just going to sit where everyone else is sitting, so I proceed to do so. To my surprise, Luz calls me over to sit with her. All of the bailiffs were polite and friendly, and she introduced me to many of them. I loved the fact that she knew them, and was even cracking jokes with them! What a relief.
Finally, she gets called in to interpret. Contrary to the drama we all expect after watching movies that take place in courtrooms, the cases were short and to the point. However, witnessing the unspoken gratitude and relief from the people she interpreted for was far more exciting than all of those movies together. I cannot wait to work as an interpreter.
I want to say thank you to Luz, because that hour and a half that I spent with her increased my passion that much more. What interpreters do is not just a job, it is a passion, and it really does make a difference in people’s lives.
I would love to get some input, or comments, about how you felt the day you started to interpret, or the first time you witnessed an interpreter in action. Please share with us!