The amazing journey of an interpreter

Article by Yati Raj Ajnabee

I started on this path almost seven years ago. The day I arrived in Australia, I attended an orientation session presented by Centrelink where an interpreter was provided. That was the second time in my life that I heard and saw an interpreter in action before an audience. The idea of becoming an interpreter first came to me in the refugee camp when the representatives of the UNHCR spoke to a crowd of some three thousand people through an interpreter. I was impressed by the way the language facilitator converted the information presented by the native English speaker into a language which could be understood by all.

My aptitude for bilingualism began at the end of primary school where the medium of instruction was English. My interest in Nepali literature has also contributed to my language skills. If it were not for my curiosity about the literature of these two languages, I would not have become an interpreter.

The first interpreter I had witnessed inspired me with his linguistic proficiency and the second raised my awareness of how complex the job is and how a poor translation of another person’s words can have serious repercussions. Interpreting is one of the most challenging jobs for those who honestly and earnestly take it as a profession and not merely as a way of making a living. To really enjoy something you should have both passion and patience. I work as an interpreter not only to earn money but also to serve those who can’t speak or understand English although they have minds and intelligence like everyone else.

The majority of about 100,000 resettled Nepali speaking Bhutanese would not have had a clue of what resettlement would be like and how they would benefit, if UNHCR had not provided them with an interpreting service for the information session before they opted for resettlement. As a member of the Nepali speaking Bhutanese community, I thank the Australian government on their behalf for the provision of the interpreting service without which they would not have had access to any of the services, such as Centrelink, Medicare, hospitals, schools, etc. Nothing is more testing than starting a new life in a country you had never thought of in your wildest dreams. Dealing with a language barrier makes it even more daunting.

The satisfaction you derive from interpreting for the needy is indescribable. As interpreters, we have to work in a variety of settings, We are privileged to learn new things during every assignment we perform. Challenging ourselves to work in different scenarios exposes us to the different terminology and jargon used in various professions and situations. One of the most remarkable experiences I have had through interpreting is working in detention centres. In many instances, I have learned to be hopeful about life while working with the hopeless detainees and their service providers. I have also come to know many incredible people.

Thankyou to Marina Morgan and her team at TafeSA for sharing this story with us. 


Published: 16/02/2016