I think this is something EVERY interpreter will remember. The first time I opened the microphone live, when the listeners were real clients, not just my teachers or fellow students, was at a conference on the pension system. Extremely technical, very difficult.
I was terrified a week before, when I started preparing. I made word lists long as Rapunzel’s braid, I brought all my dictionaries and all the bits of documentation I could possibly find. Luckily, I worked with very nice and supportive colleagues (fortunately, most colleagues in my booth are), who reassured me and helped me out.
There are many first times though and some of them are just as daunting. First time I interpreted for the European institutions was just as terrifying. Despite of preparations and word lists and even a period of internship with the institutions, I still managed to mix up the different groups, committees and institutions.
My first community interpreting job, was overwhelming. I felt that everything was my responsibility only (compared to a conference where there is at least one colleague present all the time), I did not understand that both the doctor and the patient had their responsibility in the conversation as well. More than once during the discussion I felt insufficient.
Now, you may wonder why I struggled on, despite all these difficult experiences. The truth is that it was more fascinating and rewarding than scaring. I left the booth or the medical office with a sentiment of satisfaction and a feeling that I made a difference.
There are still “first times”, but less scaring nowadays than it was fifteen years ago.
This post is part of a list, 30 days of interpreting. You can see the whole list here.