The Wealthy Interpreter – Basking in the Wealth of Interpreting: A Different Point of View

* Maria Teresa Perez is a Spanish language interpreter.  She has been a certified Spanish interpreter since 1996, previously applying her skills in California, and now as a Staff Interpreter with the Superior Court of New Jersey, Mercer County Vicinage. In her spare time, Maria Teresa loves to travel abroad, and enjoys music and the arts.  This post began as a guest post, and I’m pleased to announce Maria is the now the newest member of the blog team. – Kevin

Maria Teresa Perez*, Spanish Court Interpreter, Mercer County. NJ

I was inspired by a quote that I recently saw from an article titled:  “The Richness of Rituals,” which read as follows:

“When judges and lawyers see me walk into a courtroom, I want them to see a very strong, very self-assured interpreter.  I have just realized that with my rituals I am strengthening my own sense of identity and connecting with the power within me to be exactly who I want to be.” (Janis Palma

I agree with the concept of the importance of the image projected to the judges and attorneys by a court interpreter, which demonstrates competence in the profession.  Although the impression made on judges and lawyers by the court interpreter is very important and rewarding, those impressions should go deeper, in my opinion; they should extend to the witnesses, litigants, and the general public, as well.

As those involved in the judicial process see an interpreter walk into a courtroom, they too, should see in that person the strength, self-assurance, identity, and the ability that the interpreter possesses to facilitate the interpreting process.  When judges and lawyers and those involved in the judicial system see a nervous witness end his testimony confident, knowing that he did what he came to do, that he said what he came to say– that is strengthening and important.  When they see a battered wife leaving the courtroom under the court’s protection, confident that she will be alright– that is self-assuring and important.  When a mother, whose baby has been taken from her, comes back before the court reporting great progress at home, joyful in the reunification of her family–that is rewarding and important.  When we see the mother of a juvenile bragging to the court about how bright her child is, and how, even with an ankle bracelet, her child is loved, missed, and wanted back home– that is important.

The purpose of interpreting is not just to benefit those who speak a foreign language, and not just an opportunity for the interpreter to show off their skills.  When I see judges, lawyers, mediators, probation officers, court clerks, law clerk and litigants, smiling with confidence because their message was understood, that is truly a gratifying experience.  For me, that is when I connect with my inner self, and know that I am exactly the person I want to be; that is when I truly shine.

When I walk into a courtroom feeling strong, connected, and self-assured, I am “the wealthy interpreter,” indeed.


10 thoughts on “The Wealthy Interpreter – Basking in the Wealth of Interpreting: A Different Point of View”

  1. Jennifer De La Cruz says:

    Thank you for your insight! One thing that I’ve learned over the years is how important it is for us to represent our profession with good first impressions. It’s so wonderful to see a colleague dressed to the nines and behaving with the utmost decorum. There are times when the comfort of a work environment can make it easy to slip into bad habits, so remembering that we can definitely be judged by appearance, behavior, and then our performance is something to keep in mind each day. Being proud of what we do includes the whole package.

    1. Maria Teresa Perez says:

      Jennifer, Thank you for your comment. Being proud of what we do includes the whole package. You said it!


  2. Kevin Mercado says:

    A while back, I had a Judge crack a joke which I had to interpret. The LEP got the joke, laughed and responded appropriately. It felt like there was actual communication, and everyone was on the same page; I’d like to think they each felt the same. It is gratifying to know that not only was the message conveyed, but actual communication took place.

    I’m sure we’ve all experienced, the awkward moment when a person does not respond appropriately, even though the interpretation was correct.

  3. Pauline LeNoir says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts Maria Teresa.
    I absolutely share with you each and every word you have written on your article. That is exactly how my days go by at the courtrooms, strong, connected, self-assured, providing all that wealth within me through this fabulous profession. I definetly feel like “the wealthy interpreter”.

    Happy Interpreting everyone!

  4. Adams says:

    One thing that I have learnt all these years is how important it is for us to represent our profession with good first impressions and professionalism. It is wonderful to see a colleague dressed up well and helping others solve their problems

  5. ANNA WATROUS says:

    Thanks, Maria Teresa, for sharing your thoughts and experiences. We are all judged by our appearance and that first impression we create. Slowly but surely, in my last 34 years in the profession, interpreters have begun to perceive the importance of “playing and dressing the part”. So much so, we are often confused with attorneys because we are “dressed to impress!” As we fulfill our job to the best of our ability, we earn the respect and gratitude of our clients, and of the judiciary as well.

  6. Kathleen Morris says:

    Loved this article! It is true, when we see the results of facilitating meaningful communication and decision making by court parties and personnel, it’s worth much more than money. Whether our work is specifically complimented, or not, seeing the understanding dawn where it wasn’t there before, is immensely gratifying. This is what makes me get up out of bed every morning and brave the CTA, and terrible Chicago winters… more than any amount that I may receive in payment. Makes it all worthwhile!

  7. I would like to thank you very much for sharing your own thoughts and experience Maria Teresa. It was a pleasure to read this post and I share all your emotions and feelings. Thanks for being so amazing and writing such a wonderful post.

  8. Thanks a lot! This is an great web page.

  9. I love reading through a post that can make people think. Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!

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