boardwalk to beach at sunrise

On Weathering Storms and Embracing Change

The recent [June 2013] weather-related tragedies in Oklahoma have been of particular interest to our family, given that my youngest brother has lived in Tornado Alley for nearly two decades. The world has borne witness to the incredible stories of strength in the face of adversity, and continues to watch in awe as communities pull together to begin the long process of rebuilding.

Just after the storms killed so many in the town of Moore, my brother and his family came out to visit us in California. I couldn’t help but ask him how he copes with such a huge risk so close to home because his town is just minutes away from the hardest hit areas.

“Well, Sis, we just watch the weather and if we’re lucky enough to have heads up when a storm’s comin’, we make sure to get outta Dodge,” he answered me, shrugging his shoulders, grinning, and speaking in his adopted southern drawl.

This took me by surprise at first, and the more we talked about how he and his fellow Oklahomans prepare for and live through Mother Nature’s fury, I couldn’t help but marvel at his practical and positive attitude in the face of adversity.

This story brings to mind what our courts may be asking us to do in California in the coming weeks and months. As many states and judicial systems have surely also experienced, budget times are tight, and it follows that employees of the court may be asked to assume this same practicality and positivity in the face of what may prove to be changes we cannot stop from coming.

One of the things I admire about our profession as interpreters is that such a large number of our members are willing to stand strong and protect us from any negative changes to our working conditions. Try as we might, however, there is never any guarantee that the storm won’t tear through our side of town and impact us. That said, it will be crucial for us to remember that change is not inherently bad and that there are people and entities that are actively seeking and welcoming the modernization of court interpreting precisely because of their forecasting abilities.

How we prepare for tight times, both individually and as a profession, will dictate how well we’re able to go on once that storm hits. Even despite the greater good in the movements stemming from inevitable change, I know that if changes are imposed upon me personally (affecting my employment stability, for example) I may not be so keen on embracing that change at first. Actually, this is a great time to read up on how to handle changes in our lives.

In fact, organizations such as NAJIT and InterpretAmerica are working to spread the positive energy of what seems to be a bright future. Looking at the programming of the InterpretAmerica Summit nearly all the sessions deal with this issue of change one way or another. They seem to be anticipating a future that would mean a whole new landscape for the interpreting profession, so paying attention and being at the table when the inevitable occurs is a must.

Regardless of what may be brewing on the horizon, ensuring that our fellow interpreters are getting the message of preparing for and then embracing change is understandably complex. When we consider everything from our own value as an employee to how well we live within our means at home, the time we take preparing financially and mentally for change is never wasted. Even if we stand strong until the last minute and do all we can to weather the storm, there may be a moment when we have to take evasive measures. Ensuring we’ve protected ourselves against tragedy makes a whole lot of sense, both in our personal lives and in our careers.

It’s a simple matter of being proactive rather than reactive. Instead of waiting to see if there will be workforce reductions or technology impacting our workday, it behooves us to seek ways to be involved in the changes happening in our own courts. If we’re asked to tighten our proverbial belts, our having taken the time to share how we envision things working best will not only help us, but it will also allow us to stand tall and perform our duties in the most professional ways we can.

Whether or not a court, or a position as an employee or independent contractor, is affected by tight budgetary times, I call upon each of the individuals in the whole of this profession to take a hard look at how we adapt to change. I think we will all benefit from purposeful positive outlooks in our colleagues, and perhaps it will be much easier for the decision makers to listen to our ideas and concerns if we’re smiling instead of snarling.

Let’s take the stance that change is part of the beauty of life, and invite it to come full force! Being proactively prepared doesn’t just mean preparing to be defensive or how to sacrifice in the best possible way; it means getting ahead of what’s coming down the pike and figuring out all the ways we can adapt so our working conditions are strengthened, our opportunities increase, and our competency broadens.

To bring this discussion full circle, I would remind everyone that in the face of disaster, we must take charge of our destiny. For actual disasters, remember that the Red Cross and the National Association of Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (NVOAD) have disaster kits and ways to volunteer to help victims. Most counties have a crisis preparedness program or kit available for download. Ah, and don’t forget that little disasters like a computer crash deserve taking the time to make backup copies of all our documents.

Take a minute to look at these links for even more resources on adapting to change:

10 tips for dealing with change in the workplace

Workplace Coach: Change is coming — you need to change with it


Jennifer De La Cruz first became interested in learning Spanish in her college years, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish with an emphasis in linguistics from California State University at Fullerton. While interpreting and translating for the healthcare field, she earned certifications as a Court Interpreter for both the California and Federal Courts, later accepting a staff position with the California Trial Courts. Her passion for the Spanish language has become a thriving and satisfying career both in the fields of interpreting and translation, while her professional posts have allowed her to specialize in the highly challenging fields of law and medicine.

4 Comments
  • Vicki Santamaria
    Posted at 15:10h, 17 August Reply

    It would be helpful to know what is being talked about in California. What is the change coming down the pike?
    Here in Colorado we court employees just got a raise, albeit a small one.

    • Observer Editor
      Posted at 03:55h, 21 August Reply

      Vicki, this is a repost of an article from 2013. My personal apologies for not making it clear.

  • Enedina Davila
    Posted at 17:07h, 17 August Reply

    Hello, I am in Tulare Co., 38 yrs. In criminal, civil court calendar. Last week I was informed that Merced County, and all counties above,being Northern Calif. Are being PAID 450.00, per day, plus mileage, and travel Time, so pray tell me where the funding shortage is at issue

  • Observer Editor
    Posted at 03:56h, 21 August Reply

    Enedina, this is a repost of an article from 2013. My personal apologies for not making it clear.

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