I have had some time recently to reflect upon my trajectory into becoming a medical translator. I have always said that I did not choose translation, but translation chose me; because my first translation jobs came through people who asked me to translate for them. However, I may have been wrong about this initial assumption.
When I look back far enough, I see myself as a young child begging my mother to put me in English classes. I was convinced that if only I could speak English, I would be able to communicate with the whole world. My initial drive to speak English was so strong that when I was not in school, my whole days revolved around opportunities to learn and speak English. I remember talking to myself and in front of the mirror in English, sticking sheets of paper on the TV to cover movie subtitles and watching them several times. I remember being fascinated by foreigners; I wanted to know them, hear what they had to say, as if they had something different and magical that I had to tap into.
At 14 years old, the school where I learned English had no further advancement courses left for me, so they gave me a job as a teaching assistant. Still, I wanted to actually communicate in English, so I volunteered to translate for the South African swimming team that came every year to attend swimming competitions in my local town, and I volunteered with an organization that hosted exchange students.
When I was 17, I was fortunate enough to go on an exchange program to Australia, where my English really transformed thanks to a host of wonderful people who helped me literally mold it into what it would become. Later, when I went back to Brazil from Australia, I needed to earn some cash as an undergraduate Biology student, so I started teaching English and translating for professors from my university.
My English skills have always been my bread and butter. In addition, they afforded me opportunities to travel, meet people and experience things that would not have been possible if it had not been for them. I am even married to a native English-speaker and, since Australia, I have also lived in the UK and Bermuda.
“In short, I can categorically state that my English skills have been the most predominant factor in shaping my life as it is today.”
From the moment I became aware that there were people saying things that I could not understand, I decided that it was crucial that I understood them. More importantly, I learned that I could facilitate the communication between people who could not speak the two languages that I could speak. That gave me an immense sense of empowerment, and of being able to empower others to do business or have relationships with people who would normally just bypass them.
When at university, I became aware of how much scientific research is misunderstood or misconstrued due to being in English. Both journalists and researchers have ready access to international journals and news, but poor language skills often mean that scientific discoveries take a long time to be fully comprehended and incorporated into the collective knowledge. Conversely, there is a lot of very interesting research being conducted in Brazil that is not going to reach the international community for many years, because the translations are often so poor that articles get discredited based on their language rather than on their scientific accomplishments.
I became increasingly passionate about facilitating this exchange, because medical and scientific information becoming readily available and understood worldwide is crucial to scientific development, public health and well-being.
In other words, no, translation did not choose me; I chose translation. I chose to empower people and companies by enabling them to communicate well and effectively across cultural and language borders. I chose to turn my passion for English into a marketable skill that others may benefit from. I chose to speak with the whole world and to allow the world to speak to Portuguese speakers through me.
Thus, if you are looking for a medical translator, who is truly passionate and has dedicated her whole life to perfecting the art of communication, I am your woman. I not only have 14+ years of professional translation experience, a 4-year BSc in Biology and 4 years of actually working as a medical researcher, but I also have a lifetime of meticulously learning and carving my language skills. I have been preparing for your project all my life; I am ready.