MATI Member Spotlight: María Conde-Barwise
Language Pair(s): English<>Spanish
Degree(s)/Certification(s): Master of Arts in Linguistics; Bsc. Computer Science; U.S. Certified Court Interpreter; Texas Master Licensed Court Interpreter; New Mexico and Indiana State Certified Court Interpreter; English into Spanish Certified Translator (The University of Texas at El Paso, UTEP); Minor in Translation (UTEP); Diplomado in Translation and Interpreting (University of Ciudad Juárez, México).
How long have you been a MATI member? A bit over a year.
Where do you live and/or work? I live in Indianapolis, IN. I work as a freelance interpreter & translator in Indianapolis for the Marion County Superior, Juvenile, and Small Claims Courts through a local interpreting agency. I also provide my interpreting services to some of the Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio U.S. Courts.
How did you acquire your B language(s)? I slowly began acquiring English as a child living in Mexican cities bordering the U.S. Then, while in college, I learned how to read it and expanded my vocabulary as most of my computer science textbooks were only available in English. Finally, what helped me become more bilingual and bicultural was the fact that I lived, studied and worked on the U.S.-Mexico border for over 22 years.
How long have you worked in your field? Almost 20 years.
How did you get started in the field of translation and/or interpretation? I began in the field when I applied for a job as a software programmer/systems analyst and the position was no longer available. This was at a manufacturing plant in Ciudad Juárez, México. They told me to wait for a position to open, but they also asked me if I would be interested in helping translate several key production floor software tools in the meantime. I said yes, and I discovered I loved the job! That was back in 1995, and I realized I had found what I had always been looking for—my true calling. I forgot about trying to go back to computer science and programming jobs, etc. and dedicated all my efforts and energy to study and learn more about translation and interpreting. After that job ended, I would only apply to jobs/projects that had to do with translation and interpreting, holding several full-time/in-house translator and interpreting positions until I became a freelancer.
What is your favorite thing about working in this field? My favorite thing about working in the interpreting field, specifically in court interpreting, is the fact that I feel that I am serving two nations: the U.S. and Mexico. As a long-time resident on the U.S.-Mexico border, I have learned to love the two countries I feel I am a part of: Mexico and the United States. Also, that I equally get to serve both countries by helping my compatriots understand what happens in a courtroom and by providing the courts with services that are backed up by experience, formal education and skills.
Describe an especially memorable or fulfilling professional experience. After a bit over one year of hard work interpreting for a Japanese consultant in a manufacturing plant where the work was done in English<>Spanish, he once told me, “María, now that I come to think of it, after more than one year, there has not been a single misunderstanding or misinterpretation of anything that I have said to either a production operator, supervisor or manager and the other way around. I don’t think a single mistake has been made arising out of all of the information I conveyed and/or received through you.” I just smiled, and thought to myself, “Exactly!” I was glad to know someone was able to see that I always tried my best to help people understand each other. I needed no other compliment or comment about my performance. That’s been one of the best things I have ever heard about the job that I do and that I love doing!
What is your favorite part of the workday? Type of job? Type of client? Aspect of your profession? There are many things I like about my profession and these are just a few: learning new things; meeting new people and people from all walks of life; listening to polite, professional, flexible, objective and articulate professionals like attorneys and judges, etc.; and feeling challenged when interpreting in a trial or any other proceeding.
What do you do in your free time? I love going to the movies, dancing, meeting with friends, going to concerts and museums, seeing new places, etc.