To build and connect communities through languages and technologies
April 2018, by Valerie Beresford Marketing and BD Manager at Debonair Languages
DEBONAIR LANGUAGES ran a competition last year for which the prize was a free DPSI training course and exam fees.
Paul, our Managing Director, wanted to make a difference and decided to contribute financially to the career of an interpreter by giving away a free DSPI training course.
I went to meet our happy winner of last year’s competition, Kamela, after she successfully passed her DPSI exam.
Kamela is a very busy person, she has stepped up her interpreting career in the last 2 years while looking after a growing family. Born in Afghanistan, she has travelled and lived in Pakistan and India to finally settle in the UK. When she was little Kamela wanted to be a teacher, but it was difficult to get the relevant training as the education and training was not available to girls.
She grew up surrounded by people talking many different languages and she embraced it with such a passion that she decided to make a career of it. Kamela started a translator career while she was in India. Once in the UK, she got in touch with all interpretation bodies such as ISL, NRPSI, CIOL to learn which qualifications she needed and how she could become an “official” interpreter.
She embarked on her new career 2 years ago!
DPSI EXAM PREPARATION
She has been registered as a freelance linguist for DEBONAIR LANGUAGES for a couple of years now. Last summer, she was delighted to win the DPSI competition we ran on social media, but she knew that it would mean a lot of commitment to be able to qualify.
“DEBONAIR LANGUAGES have been very supportive since I have registered with them, such an easy company to work with and there is always someone you can talk to when you need it. Individuals are their priority and it is important for a freelancer like me. This DPSI competition is a clear example of their dedication” Kamela mentioned.
The ISL body helped her to prepare by supplying glossaries and role plays.
“The medical terms to learn were not so much the hardest for me, as I came across them a lot previously, but the legal terms were really challenging as I was not familiar with part of it and I had to learn them and understand their meaning within the UK law” explained Kamela.
On the 22nd of November 2017 she sat the exam remotely. It was divided in 2 sessions throughout the day. Kamela went to work in between the exam sessions so we can imagine that it must have been a really busy day!
She met a few technical issues as the time got changed at the last minute, which made Kamela panic a little as most of us would in her situation. The exam consisted not only of role play but simultaneous and consecutive translations etc.
Kamela underlined “It was really odd to write the translation on paper while the examiner would check on me through Skype!” She was told she passed the exams in January 2018.
A DAY IN KAMELA’S LIFE AS AN INTERPRETER
Kamela really recognizes that new technology and automation work for her. She checks texts and emails first thing in the morning before starting her day (which can involve taking the children to school etc..), as she knows very well that she must be quick to respond to assignment offers if she wants to get the assignments.
When asking how she commutes from one assignment to another, Kamela admitted “I have recently passed my driving license but as a new driver I still feel very hesitant and I tend to take public transport when I am not familiar with the areas I have been assigned to”
“I carefully select my assignments, so I can combine them and attend as many as possible a day, I am registered with several agencies, so I have to be really organised. Some days I may complete up to 4 assignments in different locations… I continuously have to coordinate my diaries especially if I am taking public transport as I cannot allow myself to be late!”
When looking back, Kamela has strong memories of some of her assignments, Kamela remembers “I had a consecutive 12 hours from 7pm to 7am where I supported a sick patient with cancer before and after major surgery. It was emotional and exhausting, I even fell asleep on the bus on the way back and the bus driver did not see me until he stopped at the terminal and was checking the bus.”
She mentioned also another assignment when she felt she made a massive difference in the outcome of the court hearing.
“One of the interpreter refused to translate what a lady was talking about because it was against his personal belief. I offered to translate for her no matter what was said, and the hearing carried on thanks to me, which made me feel very proud” explained Kamela.
When asking Kamela what is the most challenging for her:
“Without a doubt the court interpreting can be extremely difficult. I have no access to the full background of the situation most of the time as I must remain impartial, but it can make the simultaneous translation difficult. I would sometimes appreciate a clearer debrief prior to the hearing, however I know that most of the time this is not possible. So, I can struggle sometime with legal terminology as it can get really complex.”
On another occasion, Kamela had to learn to detach herself emotionally from what she can hear sometime and clear her head when a sensitive assignment is completed. She followed a Safeguard and Prevent training so “I can emotionally prepare myself better and make sure I give all the support that all vulnerable individuals deserve. “
I was delighted to meet such a passionate lady, I am myself multi lingual and while I am not a professional linguist, this interview allows me to get a better understanding of the pressure she may put on herself to deliver a service as it can change someone ‘s life in such a drastic way.
Again, DEBONAIR LANGUAGES wish Kamela a very successful career and thank her for the time she gave me.