Should the good interpreter take any assignment offered to him or her?
February 11, 2013 § 24 Comments
I recently worked an event for the Tea Party of Iowa. It was my first experience working with this organization, and I found it interesting, challenging, and important for my professional development and resume. Many of you congratulated me when I posted about this assignment on my Twitter and Facebook accounts, but a smaller number told me not to take the assignment, they told me that they would never accept work from this organization, and a few were truly angry.
From the time I started my career I have always worked understanding that we are professionals and as such we should provide our services as long as we feel capable of doing the job and the pay is what we asked for. My answer to many of these colleagues was a second question. I asked them how they interpret in the courts for serial killers, rapists and child molesters. When we work as interpreters we are messengers between two parties. We let them borrow our voice and skill, not our beliefs.
The other argument , and in my opinion a valid one, is that sometimes an interpreter cannot interpret a topic that he or she is uncomfortable with; thus some colleagues refuse to work in a court or a hospital setting. I find both positions valid. In the real world I have chosen to interpret any subject to any audience as long as I feel prepared to do it and the pay is good. For this reason I have interpreted death penalty trials, Pro-choice and Pro-life gatherings, NRA conventions, child molester trials, and political conventions.
I know many distinguished colleagues who systematically decline assignments that go against their political views or personal values and I respect that position. My question to you is: When offered an out of the ordinary assignment, do you have my attitude to take the job as long as it is interesting, you are capable of doing it, and the pay is good, or you take the position of our colleagues who pick and choose based on content?