Speaking Worlds

Mariana's blog about
interpretation and translation

2016: a year of purpose

As I sat down to my desk on the first day of the year and set out to plan the new year, I couldn't help but start by reviewing mentally the accomplishments of the year which just came to an end. In my personal business universe 2015 was a significant year, I cemented my professional practice in Europe and made new and important connections with clients who work in the areas I specialize in. My thoughts naturally extended to this field, and I made a note of the significant events that took place this year world-wide.

At the global level, 2015 is the year when the millennium development goals (MDGs) expired and when, after several years of careful consideration, the sustainable development goals (SDGs) were adopted instead. These 17 strategies expanded on their predecessors and are taking the challenge further, involving not only developing countries but the whole world into the race for development. We now have 15 years to transform the world into a more equitable and fair place, in spite of every terrible thing that is happening.


Islamist extremism shook the planet, and not only in Africa or in the Middle East but in the heart of Paris, twice, bringing a new understanding of the need to protect our Western freedoms and our values, and hopefully to share them with the whole world. Ebola started receding and the affected West African countries started to breathe hope at last. Nepal was largely destroyed by an Earthquake, and although 8 months have since passed, much remains to be rebuild and people are still homeless and confronted to dire realities.

Politics in Africa remain tense, with Democracy trying hard to overcome the old tendencies of demagogues and their endless terms in power. Meanwhile young children and teenagers are fighting to retain their childhood, against child marriage, poverty, female genital mutilation and loss of schools and education.

So how can we celebrate the new year in the middle of so much sadness and misery? I celebrate because my work allows me to be part of the solution, because thanks to the incredible people I work with, NGOs, UN agencies and other organizations around the world, things are changing. People, men, women and children are becoming aware and are fighting back, for peace, for freedom, for health, for safety, for childhood, for women, for education and for the environment...

I think our jobs can be so important. I have worked as an interpreter and translator for the past 16 years, specializing in International Development. This meant working with UN organizations, NGOs, and many public and private stakeholders. However, on the other side of the scope are REAL PEOPLE, and I highlight this, because we do live sheltered lives, most of us, and we are unaware of the level of needs in developing areas of the world. When you realize that it is not only your professional competence (the fact that you can speak the language, know the appropriate techniques, etc.) but that you can actually be warm, be kind, and help the conversations to flow more openly, that you can truly be the connector between those who have desperate needs, and those willing and able to help, your work becomes truly meaningful. I love the fact that we can contribute to make the world a better place, that we can uphold our values and extend them through our work. We must become more aware of this role for the translator/interpreter and embrace it, let it give more purpose to our work and by extension, to our lives.

 Oxfam Peru  Oxfam peru 2 2  andes

Peru, Climate Adaptation Showcase with Oxfam GB



Mariana Hernandez, English, French and Spanish interpreter and translator My name is Mariana Hernandez; I am a freelance conference interpreter and translator working in English, French and Spanish. I was born and I grew up in Paris, France. Later in life I moved with my family to Latin America, where I eventually started my career, working with international NGOs, United Nations agencies, and private and public sector stakeholders in developing countries. This blog speaks of my work, and the many humanist topics which are close to my heart.



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