I’ve been an interpreter and translator for well over 30 years. Starting out in the Judiciary of Singapore where I learnt the craft on the job and from more senior colleagues, I discovered how challenging it can be to deal with the transfer of ideas from one language into another, and how ultimately rewarding and fulfilling it is. As my horizons expanded and opportunities emerged, interpreting and translation gave me whole new experiences, insights and learning, through the conferences and discourses I interpreted and the literature and other materials I translated. It’s like getting paid to go to university.
The informal mentoring and on-the-job training I received in the 10 years I was with the Courts gave me the practical experience. A University of Malaya Diploma in Conference Interpreting, the only one of its kind in this part of the world at the time, gave me the theoretical framework and foundation which was fleshed out in the courtroom and, later, conference halls.
As I grew and mature in this career, I started feeling the need to mentor and teach others, and to learn how to do so effectively. The opportunity came in the form of the Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) in Interpreter Training at the University of Geneva. And soon after completing this programme in Jan 2015, I was privileged to join SIM University, Singapore, as an associate teaching interpreting and translation.
Thinking back, it was really as a kid at the Ayer Gemuroh Malay School on the Changi coast of Singapore when I started dabbling with translation, whenever I found interesting material not available in Malay. Now, 50 years on, I don’t see myself ever tiring of interpreting and translation, nor retiring from it. I hope I never will.