Monday, 5 May 2008

My first interpreting experience with the Gideons

From Thursday to Saturday, I attended the German Convention of the Gideons where, for the first time, I was an official interpreter. I've been working as a translator for several years, but that's very different from being an interpreter. But before I start writing about my interpreting experience, let me tell you a little bit about the Gideons...

The Gideons International is a Christian association of business and professional men whose members want to tell the world about the love of Jesus Christ by distributing Bibles in hotels, schools, hospitals, prisons etc. The organisation was founded in Wisconsin (USA) in 1899 and now has members in 187 countries of the world. My father was a Gideon and I was glad to follow in his footsteps when I joined the organisation in 2006. I believe that the Bible is God's Word and the most important and the most wonderful book there is and that it is relevant for every person in this world. The Bible has changed my life and its message gives me joy and hope for the future, and it can do the same for you, too. (If you would like to have a copy of the Bible, look up the Gideons in your local phone directory, contact them through their website ( or, if you live near to Frankfurt am Main in Germany, just let me know and I will personally deliver a Bible to you.)

Well, back to my experience from last week... It was about a 4-hour drive to Zwickau where the Convention was held. On my way there, I was able to meet up with some friends I hadn't seen in a long time - Benedikt and Christina and their little boy Josias.

It was nice to get a chance to catch up with them again just before they would be leaving for Ecuador for a month. We had lunch together and then I was on my way again to arrive in time for the start of the Convention.

There were 470 participants at the Convention, including a handful of foreign (English-speaking) guests for whom I was to interpret together with 3 other interpreters. So we kept turns interpreting with headphones and a mike inside a little interpreter's booth and our mutual support was much needed, especially since it was a full programme from 8 o'clock in the morning to 10 at night! But I seemed to get on very well with it (at least that's what those who heard me said) and really enjoyed it.

Simultaneous interpreting is quite challenging - some of the speakers spoke ridiculously fast so that it was almost impossible to keep up with them! And sometimes there are things you just *cannot* translate and you have to think of what else to say on the spot! Or you translate a long sentence bit by bit and when it comes to the end you realise you've run into a dead end, because you cannot finish a sentence the same way in English. And then there's the problem of translating jokes and puns on words... Not easy but still lots of fun! =)

Early Sunday morning after the Convention, I took one of the special international speakers to the airport in Leipzig and then went to church and had lunch in Leipzig with other friends whom I had not seen since we met in Ireland - Arba and Anne and their children Kilole and Esther. Arba is from Tanzania and they speak Swahili in the family which is so cool. One of the languages I do not (yet) speak... ;-)

1 comment:

Helen said...

Thanks for a little insight in the Gideon's work. Since I always forget to put a bible in my baggage when on duty trip, I have several times appreciated finding a bible in my hotel rooms desk drawers.

I loved the photo of Tina & Bene - haven't seen them for such a long time (at least it feels like ages, even if it's only since Christmas). Josias has sure grown. Can't wait to play with him soon again :-)