Language Access During a Pandemic…and Fires!


Volunteering in our profession may be gratifying in times of peril, but in this pandemic, even those who help are under economic and personal danger as well. I was fortunate enough to work remotely without risking my livelihood, and I have good friends who have always supported me during difficult times…and believe me, I have my share of those!

Thanks to those friends, I have also been able to forge good relationships with nonprofit organizations who need translation and interpreting services, and for whom I have worked on a pro bono basis. This work is not only gratifying, but also enriching. I’ve learned about new topics, such as developments of the novel coronavirus that has wrecked the entire world while working on dubbing the daily press conferences held by Santa Barbara Public Health directors; the destruction caused by the Walbridge Fire in Sonoma County and Healdsburg, California doing translation for local authorities daily emergency advisories; and the mental health issues caused by isolation which lead to eating disorders (e.g., over eating) during interpretation assignments for Compulsive Eaters Anonymous. My volunteer work at nonprofit organization’s boards also includes translation and interpreting assignments that I very much appreciate because it’s like a having a direct connection to the community in which I live and work. Organizations like Truth in Recruitment, HOPE and SMV Women’s March serve large Hispanic populations in the Central Coast of California, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have helped them bridge the language gap.

Perilous times can also be a time for learning and improving. We all know that in our profession every single moment is a learning experience, thus we should value each of those moments. I am grateful to be alive and to be okay. What other learning experiences have you had during this pandemic?

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