“What are you prepared to do?” Those were the words conveyed to me by my mentor some fifteen years ago as I pursued my dream job, to be a Park Ranger. Unbeknownst to me, those words shaped the professional I became and were shared with those I strove to mentor within our profession. Flash forward ten years. As I repeatedly spent the late winter and early spring interviewing prospective seasonal interpreters, I repeatedly asked one question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Instead of the bewildered face I’m sure I gave to my mentor, those who sat across from me laughed at the elementary question. Recently, about a month ago, as I sat eating pasta with my toddler, feeling guilt with every additional bite of carbs into the supposed dieting mouth, I thought to myself, “If we are what we eat, then I want to be a piece of angel hair.”
In essence, these fleeting muses are just a fraction of the myriad thoughts that pass before my conscious daily; however, collectively they form a bigger picture, both personally and professionally. Many of us may use words such as goals and dreams, vision and mission, pursuits and profession, passion and perseverance, interchangeably to describe our being, our profession and our avocation. And luckily, the majority of us can honestly proclaim that our passion is our avocation; however, have we ever sat and drafted our personal or professional mission statement? Many of us may have written a bucket list, but have any of us compiled a life list- a list of what we want to embody in our day to day? Probably not for the toughest principle of interpretation for novice interpreters to harness is the exploration of intangible meanings and universal concepts, and successful ways to create opportunities for emotional connections between the resource and the audience. To talk about oneself and to be in touch with our inner feelings enough to express them in a concise couple of sentences is as tough as it is for most, non interpreters, to be confident public speakers.
I charge you to be with your inner self; to analyze your values and beliefs, ideas and ideals; and to fashion your own personal and professional mission statements. Not only will it help guide your every day routine, shaping choices about your actions and attitudes, but it will also provide a purposeful, mindful profession. Then, think to yourself- do my personal and professional mission statements align with that of my agency? If not, why not; and if not, how can they? In order to be a successful interpreter, to get at the hearts and minds of our audience, and to instill a passion for the resource, we must first know ourselves and our own passion.
To affect positive change; to be the change we want to see in the world; and to inspire and cultivate a field of professionals, we must first take a look at ourselves, fearlessly delving into introspective self-analysis.
Accept the mission. Be the change!
Tennessee State Coordinator