The Language Interpreter

[UPDATE: I’ve become  so dedicated to community arts practices and I know CA is where my passion lies. I feel like I could do both but my capacity levels do both at the moment isn’t where I wish it could be. 03/05/14]

Whenever people ask about my personality I’ve always described myself as a listener or a helper. These personality traits seem to be integral to who I am as a person. Initially, as a listener, I found that people would share things with me that were very important or secret without any pressure to disclose from my end. From listening to other people’s stories, I’ve noticed that there is a feeling of lightness; their burden is not as weighty. The deep sigh after a long story often suggests to me frustration (because the situation is still in their mind) but release (because I’ve helped them feel less stressed – even if it is the tiniest amount of aid). The result of all this was a realization that I can help people by doing what I do well – listening.

Now, I’ve spent almost 4 years of university-level schooling to understand the theoretical working behind the human mind (yep, I’m a psychology major). Sure, there were (and still are) important theories out there, but for me it is the matter of application…I never applied what I learned and now I’m going to be leaving school feeling like the typical young adult (a degree under their belt but is working odd-jobs and living at home – here’s a link to a national post article about this very topic). After various suggestions from my mom and conversations with friends, my worries of becoming a typical grad and working a 9-5 desk job freaks me out…and the thoughts only grow stronger.

*A glimmer of light appears* Looking on the experiences and opportunities I’ve taken during my time at university, I’ve learned more about my likes and dislikes. Furthermore, entering feminist, queer, and conscious racilialized circles, I understand more about oppressions/power/privilege/and all that other bullshit that is used against us in society. Through community work and meeting a diverse range of individuals, I happened to be introduced to an ASL class with ORAD (Ontario Rainbow Alliance for the Deaf) called “Queer ASL”. Jumping at the opportunity to learn, I signed up ASAP.

At the time I was only learning french, but there were very significant differences that drew me to ASL. Not only were my teachers fun and hilarious, but I felt wonderfully safe and welcome in the space (held at our very own 519 community centre). I found signing was really engaging and, in comparison to french, learning was significantly easier – and there are less grammar rules!

Coming back full circle…during a conversation with my partner, they mentioned that communication is a major thing in society and the fact that I am learning languages (despite my psych degree) can be applied to my career.

So, this was the equation in my head:

listening skills + ASL + ( helper x diverse communities) + need for a job + communication barriers = language interpreter

Now, my ambitions have constantly been growing, changing, and developing…and becoming an interpreter seems to just click. Interpretation could possibly work in a time range where I can pursue my artistic passions in the evening! A few downsides include learning how to interpret correctly (ie. deciding which words/signs to interpret with), the physical exhaustion (it is draining to interpret conversations for multiple hours – even with a partner), and the basic issue of finding job and volunteer opportunities to practice. I fully intend on finding something in the community that will help me easily slide into the interpretation career…

As a matter of fact, I put it on my dream board for me to look at every day.

Fonna, the ASL Interpreter!

Thanks for reading! I’ll keep you updated.
– Fonna

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