Cheers to the Bumpy Road Behind, and Cheers to the Bumpy Road Ahead
林可晴 Interpretation Track
For the record, I never thought I should be giving anyone ‘advice’ as if I have mastered every moment of my time at GPTI. Therefore, instead of talking about what I think the R11 and R12 fellow trainee interpreters should or should not do, I’d like to reflect on what I have learned in the past two years, or am still learning.
I kind of joined the program with a rather open attitude of ‘we’ll see how it goes’. I took some courses in interpreting in college and felt like interpreting was challenging yet quite interesting. Getting accepted by the program was (and still is) such an honor, like winning a gold medal labeling me as a ‘winner’, qualified to join this big GPTI family. Yet, I have always been interested in other subjects, such as sociology and psychology. And I was (am still) not ready to let go of them, hence the open attitude. Fortunately, NTU is the perfect place to be an indecisive nerd, and I continued to take different courses while studying interpreting. Being able to feed my greediness for knowledge is something I will be forever grateful for. The courses I took not only inspired my thesis topic but also served as an escape. Taking other interesting courses kept me sane. It reminded me that I still have other interests in life.
Of course, there were still things I wish I had realized earlier. During the two-year training, there were tons of slides to read, dozens of new fields of knowledge to acquire, and countless new words to learn. I devoted myself to preparing for class materials every week, and it was not the wrong thing to do. Learning from the best interpreters and professors is a wonderful experience that cannot be replaced. It means we can rest assured knowing that we are given the opportunity to reach for the brightest stars. However, learning from the best also means that there are bound to be times when we would feel inadequate. In interpreting classes, we have to be vulnerable. Our flaws need to be exposed so that we can make progress. Needless to say, despite the nature of interpreting training (and how difficult interpreting is already), the mandatory and advanced courses were not easy peasy. Were there tears shed? Yes. Were there sleepless nights? Of course. Were there times when I told myself “Missy, you can have your mental breakdown later, now you have to finish this”? Well, it’s a shared experience for all of us. At some point, I stopped feeling like the gold medal winner I thought I was. There were many times when I felt extremely frustrated and thought I wasn’t good enough, or even a misfit.
My aha moment came a little later. I spent too much time thinking about why I couldn’t just do everything perfectly. In hindsight, it was partially because I pushed myself too hard. If I could make a call to the twenty-three-year-old me, I would tell myself that it’s all right. I would suggest that overwhelmed, over-working, and overstressed Cathleen take a step back, and give it a little bit of distance. Maybe even pause a little. Working hard is the right track toward success, but focusing too much on every word and comment I received blocked my overview. I don’t regret putting most of my time and energy into schoolwork, but I would have been happier and felt more liberated if I had kept the big picture in mind, knowing my overall goals.
The last key element of the GPTI journey that I want to share is very important to me (if not the most important). It’s the peers, my precious classmates, whom I hold dear to my heart (too cheesy?). For the past two years, my boothmates/partners in crime and I (a.k.a the Gang) have fostered a safe space for everyone to make mistakes, learn from the mistakes, and grow. When we practice CI and SI together, we can give constructive feedback, helping each other make progress. It is possible because we spent so much time together that we naturally know each other quite well. And when I was too caught up in my problems, my classmates always came to the rescue and pointed out my blind spot. In addition to the academic aspect, we also gave each other emotional support. The class laughed like maniacs together creating our inside jokes; we comforted each other when things got too intense; and when it was necessary, we also cried together, patting each other on the backs and saying it would be okay. We have “gen-zed” our way through basically everything, joking about things that made us cry and then laugh till we were in tears, as well as knowing perfectly well we will finish the assignments but needing to whine first. Having these people with me helped me get through the bumpy part of the journey. And I hope all of you can also find the people who will hold your hand through your journey.
The road sure was and still is bumpy, sometimes so bumpy that I had to just charge like a rhinoceros and accept the bruises. Looking back on the steps I have taken and memories made, I see myself struggling the hardest ever, but I also see myself laughing and working the hardest ever. There are things I am grateful for forever. There are definitely things I wish I knew better; I could have been a little more laid-back and kept the big picture in mind. So, suppose I were ever to give any sort of advice to the following groups of warriors. In that case, I hope you remember this: Remember there is so much to learn about interpreting, and there is also so much outside of interpreting. Keep the big picture in mind. Breathe. Eat. Sleep. Take good care of yourself physically and mentally so that you have strength and energy for the upcoming challenges. I also highly recommend trying to have fun even when things are tough. And overall, having good people around you helps significantly. I wish you all the best. I hope you have a great time learning interpreting and more importantly, learning more about yourselves.