Confession. I love me my cartoons. On Christmas morning the bestest present from Pixar arrived on Apple TV. The animated movie Soul features mentors   who “guide fresh souls so that they can discover a ‘spark’ that will drive them to a happy and productive life down on earth.” Mentors who dedicate their lives to a profession transform me. These experienced and trusted advisors schooled me in art, music, culture, and the responsibility to serve others by joining professional organizations. Here is a story of mentors who guide me to this day.


Donald R. Greenham, Ph.D., was  my first mentor and mate. Everyone called him Green. He served the teaching profession through the Ohio Foreign Language Association (OFLA) and the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF). His posts included treasurer and grader for the National French Contest. He used to say (apologies to the Hartford of the West ) that the AATF didn’t hold conferences in Des Moines but international spots such as Quebec City and Fort-de-France. One year the AATF held a conference in Dakar, the capital of Senegal. There Léopold Sédar Senghor, poet, writer and statesman, spoke. Through Green I learned to appreciate cultures far from the confines of my birthplace in Stark County, Ohio. He also stressed the importance of joining professional organizations.

Green’s advice? Live. He introduced me to Broadway and often quoted lines as in “Life is a banquet and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death” from Auntie Mame. LINK

image TAPIT


Through Isabel Framer, who founded the original Community and Court Interpreters of Ohio, I met Judith Kenigson Kristy and Marvyn Bacigalupo-Tipps of the Tennessee Association of Professional Interpreters and Translators Judith and Marvyn taught “The Tennessee State Court Interpreter Ethics and Skill Building Workshop” in Nashville 2003. At the time Ohio did not have a certification process, but does today. I attended their two-day conference on the path to become a certified court interpreter. Judith, ever the professional, stressed the need to educate the judiciary on the interpreter’s role. Her publication Language and Litigation: What Judges and Attorneys Need to Know about Interpreters in the Legal Process serves to educate interpreters and the judiciary. Little did I know in the early aughts that I would eventually train interpreters and the judiciary in my home state of Ohio. Judith’s advice? “Look the professional.”


I met my first official mentor when the American Translators Association (ATA) launched a formal mentoring program in 2001 LINK Once paired with Rudy Heller LINK another journey began. Although the ATA already assigned him a different mentee, he agreed to take me on. We chatted monthly about career goals established with the assistance of materials by Linda Phillips-Jones’ The Mentor’s Guide: How to be the Kind of Mentor You Once Had, or Wish You’d Had and The Mentee’s Guide: How to Have a Successful Relationship with a Mentor. LINK The program demanded that I take the initiative to set up phone conferences and establish objectives. I later ventured east to his home in Massachusetts for an onsite learning experience. Rudy brought me to a New England Translators Association LINK meeting where he served as an officer. As my dear friend and colleague Jill Sommer LINK says, “He worked the room” and greeted everyone with kind words and encouragement. I owe him for the success of a twenty-plus years as a judiciary/healthcare interpreter. He encouraged me to write an article from the ATA conference experience as a newbie to the field. To my surprise the ATA Chronicle LINK  published the work. I learned to share my experience as a newcomer to the field with others. Writing boosted my self-esteem. His advice to me? “Work local.”


I discovered a free image editor to crop JPG photographs online LINK Check it out. 


Who are your mentors? How do they affect your life? Please share here. 

Published by The Interpreter Fellow

I am an Ohio State Certified Court Interpreter and Certified Healthcare Interpreter in Spanish. MA Translation from The Institute for Applied Linguistics at Kent State University. Currently I serve Akron Children's Hospital Pediatrics and local courts.

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thoughts on interpreting

Liam O'Dell

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