This week I had my first liaison interpreting assignment, accompanying a delegation from India during their visit to Germany and the Biofach exhibition in Nuremberg.
While I have interpreted at the exhibition before, I have never been on an assignment involving traveling with a group and interpreting in all kinds of settings and locations.
It’s been an opportunity to really practice it all, both when it comes to interpreting – consecutive and simultaneous, with technology and chuchotage – and the technical setups with all their challenges.
We did work with a tour guide system most of the time, which made the actual interpreting easier (some audio problems due to interference aside), but making sure everyone had a receiver set to the correct channel, had it turned on, and then getting the microphone to work occasionally took some time.
Finding a good place to stand (possibly sit) and take the necessary notes without dropping tablet, phone, pad or pen became quite a feat and at times even an art form.
And one day I had to pull the techie card and set up a hotspot from my phone to a TV in order to connect said TV to the same network and use AirPlay to show the presentation from my phone for the presenters since their PC wouldn’t connect to the TV.
In addition to the exhibition, there were visits to various farms, associations, a brewery et cetera, for and during which I learned so many new and interesting things that I’ll need at least a day or two to work through all my notes.
I have turned into a veritable agro-ecological expert – and I like it! I caught myself participating in the discussions, which is probably not terribly professional while interpreting, but with this group, nobody minded. In fact, they were happy and eager to explain and involve me, which was heaven for my inquiring and ever-thirsty-for-knowledge mind. And I now feel comfortable adding this as a new area of expertise to my list of services.
Spending all week with this group in all the various settings and seeing the potential and real issues inherent in traveling with a group like that has brought out the take-charge and “let me help you” side of me, combined with a good dose of “let’s get this show on the road”.
While being thrown into cold water like this was not ideal, I actually had fun doing that, too. This experience has got me thinking of maybe offering the service of coordinating and accompanying such delegations, organizing tickets and meetings as well as a supporting program with opportunities for shopping, sightseeing, dinners, and so on. A slightly different interpretation of “Organizing Interpreter”.
Combining all of it with interpreting at the same time might be a bit much, but offering even just one or two of these things could add value to my services and take at least some of the burden off the clients’ shoulders.
The clients this week were very grateful, in any case, which I find encouraging, so who knows? I might have a new page on my website soon.