by Helena Uber-Wamble
Interpretation is a gift that can never be shut off. It is for those who are curious and who have the desire to communicate the wonders of the world around them. Recently, I attended a truck driving class and entered into an entirely different world of lingo. I had to learn about engine parts and how the air brake systems worked and where the air compressor was and what the curly wires behind the cab were for (which by the way, are super-important lines that control the air brake system). I studied the manual, practiced for the test and went over the truck and all its parts over and over again. I was sure I was ready to take on this challenge and take the test.
Then comes along the instructor. He was going to review with us, do a practice run of what was expected and what we should know when going through the test. The instructor went from the front of the truck to the engine compartment to the brake system. I intently listened to everything he had to say. I watched as he pointed out the items that we were to know and I was super-proud of myself for feeling familiar with the parts, until the brakes. The instructor said the airline comes into the “pancake” and then attaches to the …. Stop, stop right there, this really threw me. I asked the instructor to stop and explain what a pancake was — he simply said, “Oh yes, that is what the old timers called it, I am sorry. It is the brake chamber.” Whew, thank God that was a simple explanation and easily understandable—the chamber is kind of flat and round like a pancake, so it makes sense. We continued.
On we go to the “buds.” No, I didn’t read anything about buds in the book. Again I asked the instructor to explain what these were, and obviously now I know why they are named this. These are the two tires paired together under the trailer. Then the instructor continued down and around the truck until all the parts were covered. I was excited to learn not only the technical names, but also the names that different people called these parts. I was getting into the “trucker—lingo” – the interpretation – and it was cool.
Now what does this have to do with interpretation you ask? A Lot!
In order for us to really communicate and get our point across, we need to make sure our audience knows our lingo. When using our words in our programs we need to simply define them, explain what we mean and repeat ourselves often. Adults and children will remember the word or concept if we simply break things apart and repeat the message. Asking questions midway through the program also helps you to know that the audience is still with you.
When talking about animals that we have on site, it is very easy to point out the feature in front of us on that animal, like the dewlap on a lizard, or a turkey’s beard. When talking about plants, if they are close by, again take the time to point out the key features (if you can without harming the plant). Make things tangible and keep it sweet and simple. People will go away feeling that they have learned something and hopefully it will trigger a sense of wonder. They will come back because they can connect with you and understand your lingo. Enjoy your job, but remember not everyone is as lucky as you to “know your job.” In saying this, one day you may see me with a reefer. Don’t worry, it is legal in ALL states and police officers won’t question it. You see, a “reefer” in the trucker world is a refrigeration truck.
Keep learning, everyone – there is a world of interpretation just waiting for you!