As an agency owner and someone who handles interpreter scheduling, I’m graced with the occasional glimpse into the hearts and minds of interpreters. At times, the communication skill of interpreters is the bane of my existence. When the crickets won’t even chirp in response to an “ARE YOU AVAILABLE?” message, I wonder why I ever opened shop. Other times, I cannot believe my good fortune to have entered this field.
When we were contacted by a hospice and palliative care organization, my heart fluttered. They needed interpreting services for a deaf patient in hospice. Personally, I love medical interpreting and I know many of the interpreters on the Rose roster do as well. This could be different though. Most interpreters have strong preferences on funeral interpreting. With my own belief that the process of dying is just as precious as that of birth, I was determined to provide not only the most highly qualified interpreters, but those who could support the hospice process best.
Without knowing much about the Deaf consumers yet, I contacted my interpreters. Not knowing who would be willing or able, I just asked who would be comfortable in the setting and laid out some of the logistics. Almost immediately I had my first response: “Yes.” Then came another, and another, and they came quickly. Almost to a person, these responses came from my most qualified, most seasoned contractors. I had been worried that I’d have to wait for answers or even reach out to other agencies, when in reality I was was rich with options. One response came with more, though.
“… I am strong and sturdy, quiet and respectful I can melt into the furniture, quick to make space for personal moments. I do not fear death or shy from natural bodily phases. I will be available after…”
In a short message hastily tapped out on a smartphone, this interpreter summed up exactly what was needed beyond interpreting skill. Luckily for me, this person is also highly skilled and certified.
Later in the day, I received this response:
“While I am comfortable with my background experience related to nursing homes, hospice, and patients passing away…I have an intuition that my level of interpreting experience is not adequate for this level of intrapersonal demands… Thank you for the opportunity.”
Knowing this interpreter, I know that the response took some time to formulate. This person is new to the field, and developing that internal compass we all need. Instead of throwing her hat into the ring to garner glory, she considered the consumers just as the above quoted interpreter.
All of the responses to that email and these two answers, from the capable and wise veteran and the conscientious rookie, remind me why I’m so very proud to be a part of this field. I work with good people. I work with really, really good people.