Lillian Okoye | Essays From The Great Wall

When I Was A Chinese/English Interpreter in New York City

Me.

A Chinese/English over-the-phone interpreter at one point.

I used my interpretation skills to help deliver a baby while a Chinese woman was in labor.

A Chinese speaker who was running into fraud issues with their credit card.

And even when a Chinese speaker had a car accident and needed to file a claim with an insurance company.

Never did either party know that me, a black woman, was the Chinese/English interpreter.

It was over the phone. 

[ To know that piece of information may have perhaps shocked and distracted them from the actual call, LOL. ]

I've interpreted for Chinese speakers of all ages - folks ranging from 19 to 88.

Health checkups.

Credit cards. Refinancing.  

Car accidents. 

911 calls.

I've interpreted it all. 

But certain moments have stayed with me.

My favorite memories of being an interpreter were those magical moments when both parties no longer feel like there's an interpreter between them. They feel like they're talking directly to each other.

Because they are.

To be honest, I live for moments like these.

Effortless communication.

Jokes. Laughter. Smooth communication.

It's breaking that barrier of communication.

It's helping people do things they never thought they could. 

It when they no longer realize I'm there - it's magical.

It's great to be in such a humanitarian role and serve as a conduit and help a limited English person with their conversation with someone else...

But what excites me more than anything in this world is helping folks like you go from zero to fluent so that you'll never need to rely me or on anyone else again.

That's the true freedom.

That's the dream.

I truly love that more than anything in this world!

And yes it is possible! So, so possible!

If I can do it, you can do it too.

Check out www.fluentinfive.com