New Beginnings


As I look back on what stays behind after this eventful 2021, I see the mistakes I have made and on the other hand the great choices as well. I would like to think that the latter outweigh the former, but a deep analysis is in order. That is something I will work on during the first few weeks of this new year, 2022.

I try to not dwell on the past but to look brightly at the future. The past is a great place to revisit to find strength in memories, to learn from experiences (both good and bad), and to create a future I can be content with. Contentment is a concept I have become more and more at peace with and actually have come to embrace. I always thought the word “contentment” had a negative connotation, comparable to “mediocrity,” and that instead the goal was bliss and happiness. (I guess I had taken to heart the Declaration of Independence on the pursuit of happiness!)  Although I still aim for those lofty goals, I find that my most elevated state is contentment these days, preferable to any other.

I am not sure if my feelings and the way I see life now have anything to do with my age, my circumstances, or just my personality. I am not sure, either, if they are a sign of maturity or if they are what I feared all my life, conformism, although I think the term in English that best applies is “settling.” What I do know it that settling is not in my nature, but finding happiness within contentment has given me peace.

Drastic changes needed!

Among the decisions I made in 2021, the most important ones are of a personal nature. Resigning from my staff position several weeks ago to be close to family was probably the one that will have the greatest impact on my life and my future. Although in my personal life I have found peace, not having a pension that will ensure a comfortable retirement concerns me a great deal. Therefore, it is time, at the beginning of this coming year, to take inventory of my financial situation and create a plan of action.

The highest goal I have had since I started in our profession is to pass the federal court interpreter certification examination. I have taken the oral portion a few times and am within reach of that goal; however, my concern is that I have come close twice and yet haven’t found a way to materialize it.

Well, going back to planning my future, I have identified that the one thing that can change my financial and professional future, at this point, as well as contribute to my personal fulfilment, is to attain federal certification. To this end I need to make some drastic changes.

Simple yet logical

It has been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. We often hear reference to that quote in our profession, during training programs and presentations. That quote reminds me of the illogical nature of some humans, myself included.

I have been to countless seminars, workshops, training programs and webinars from which I have learned the dos and don’ts of preparing for this feared exam. I have all the tools to do this and yet I keep failing to find the time, motivation, and the energy to do what I need to do. From all this I have concluded that I need to apply something more important than determination and that has been essential to attaining all my past goals: discipline.

So that is going to be my main effort for this year, to become disciplined. I will set time aside for the important things in my life. With that in mind, I have created a list of goals for this year that will require discipline.

A short list

1) Attend church regularly.

2) Take care of myself, so I can attain all my other goals. This includes improving my health with regular exercise and planning my meals weekly to leave nothing to chance.

3) Find a volunteer program that I can join with my granddaughter Leila to teach her the importance of giving back.

4) Prepare for the federal oral exam, whether I am able to take it this time around or on the next scheduled date, by studying and practicing every day.

5) Find a balance between my professional and personal life and dedicate specific time for my volunteer work.

Are all my goals attainable? Or am I being too ambitious? Only time will tell. I will report on these goals during the year and share anything new I learn. Would you like to share your goals for 2022 with TNO readers? If so, please send your comments.

Happy New Year to you all!

Hilda Zavala is a state certified/approved Spanish court interpreter and translator with more than thirteen years of experience in legal, medical, corporate, and non-profit settings in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Wisconsin. She is a board member, treasurer, and Conference Committee chair of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators as well as former president of the New York Circle of Translators. She is an active and voting member of NAJIT, ATA, the NYCT and other professional groups. Hilda has two certificates of Legal Interpreting: Spanish/English, the latest one from NYU. Hilda has been a Staff Interpreter at Essex County Superior Court in New Jersey for over five years. Born in Chicago, Hilda lived for twenty years in Mexico and loves traveling. She continuously looks for opportunities to promote and advance the interpreting profession. Contact:

Main photo and body photo in the public domain, taken from Piqsels.

9 thoughts on “New Beginnings”

  1. Terri Shaw says:

    I think one thing that helped me to pass the federal exam was something suggested by James Plunkett. I formed a study group with other candidates to practice together. I also took every preparation course I could sign up for sponsored by the U of Arizona Court Interpretation Training Institute. difficult but well worth it.

    1. Sorry for the delay in replying, but it’s conference season (prep work). Thank you, Terri! I have so many resources from helpful colleagues that have offered not only advice but classes, evaluations and all sorts of guidance. I just started back on the daily practice but I do need a couple of peers to work with. 🙂

  2. Rania Hijazeen says:

    Hello Hilda,
    I applaud your goal setting and cheer you on. I believe with you that at the end of this year, you will look back and you will have accomplished so much more than your thought. I wish for you strength, discipline and focus this year. Sometimes we find ourselves running alone on the path thinking that we are far behind, only to discover that we were far ahead of the pack. You have accomplished so much from your bio. I look forward to celebrating your Federal Certification before the end of 2022. Happy New Year and happy studying.
    Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your goals. 🙂

    1. Sorry for the late reply and thank you, Rania. That is very sweet. I really appreciate your comment. Happy New Year 2022 to yo and yours!

  3. Akiko Matsuo Abley says:

    Hi Hilda,

    I just wanted to say good luck to you on your goals for this year.
    I agree that contentment is the base for happiness. I also feel I am lucky to be content.
    All the best to you.

    1. Right? I am happy being content. I get to appreciate life more not always wanting more but enjoying all I have. Being grateful I think is part of the equation, and I feel grateful.

      Be well Akiko!

  4. Mustapha says:

    Hi all,
    I would like to ask about possible training and work opportunities for translation international graduates from developing countries?

    1. Please email me at Thank you, Mustapha. I look forward to hearing from you.

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