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Sunday, December 7th, 2014 – Chapter Jakarta
A really good opportunity that one can take by mastering a foreign language is to become a professional interpreter. On this Sunday afternoon, Polyglot Indonesia - Chapter Jakarta had the privilege to welcome Mr. Andre Omer Siregar to give us a workshop on interpreting at Institut Français d’Indonésie. This bright diplomat has been working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1998 and for the last 4 years, he was officially the interpreter of Susilo Bambang Yudoyono, Indonesia’s 6th president. Not to forget that he was also interpreting for Megawati Sukarnoputri though for a shorter period of time. So what’s the story behind?
Being a diplomat’s son, Mr. Andre has been living abroad since childhood and has been in English-speaking schools ever since. He even claimed that his Bahasa Indonesia is very poor, but it this didn’t stop his will to contribute for his home country, Indonesia. Having a Master Degree in Diplomacy and Trade, he decided to become a civil servant and started his career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In less than 2 weeks, he will move to Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. Let’s hear what he has to share!
This workshop actually replaced one of our meet-up schedules, where the class was exclusively reserved for 20 people, in order to ensure the effectiveness of the workshop itself. When Mr. Andre arrived to IFI, he showed his very good mood and shook our hands one by one. We started our session by a whole hour of self-introductory, i.e. who we are, what we do, our background related to languages, and our interpreting experience. He showed great interest in each of us and was very impressed by our diversity and by our language skills! That surely made us excited to get into his presentation.
There are 3 types of interpreting: consecutive, simultaneous, and the combination of both. For the consecutive type, the speaker ends his sentence/paragraph first; the interpreter took notes and interprets it at the end of the sentence/paragraph. That means, that there will be only one person speaking at a time. In simultaneous interpreting, the interpreter talks directly a few words after the speaker, which means that there are 2 people speaking at the same time. Of course, special equipment is needed, which is the Simultaneous Interpreting System (SIS), or also called the interpreter’s booth.
The rules for consecutive interpreting are: understanding, analyzing, memorizing, and re-expressing. First, when the interpreter listens to the speaker, he/she will try to not only to understand the words, but more the ideas or intentions. Second, the interpreter will analyze the speech type, the idea, the tone, and the summary. Third, he/she will memorize with the help of mnemonics or visualizations, and last, the interpreter will re-package the story with the determined language, making him/her a “story teller”. A tip that can easily be remembered as the important points of being an interpreter is the “3C’s”: competence, creativity, and courage.
In between slides, Mr. Andre also showed us several cases from his personal experience where situations might get tricky. For example, during a press conference when the Austrian president came, SBY’s interpreting system faced technical problems, which can lead to inconveniences. Another time when SBY had a panel press conference together with other leaders, and one of the reporters asked a question out of the scope. This unexpected situation can be quite confusing; hence interference from the interpreter can be very helpful.
After the presentation, Mr. Andre suggested to do some practical exercises, where 6 volunteers were needed. The contexts were in diplomatic meetings, but the cases were all different one another. The first 2 were assigned consecutive interpreting from Bahasa Indonesia to English, the next 2 were assigned the opposite way round, and the last 2 were assigned simultaneous interpreting from Bahasa Indonesia to English. That was surely challenging and stimulated our brains!
As a closing, Mr. Andre suggested that we could contact the Association of Interpreters and take our chance. There are 6 United Nations official languages, and more than 300 international conferences per year; that means, lots of opportunity for professional interpreters! With the future development in the market, the technology, and the expectations, this field is remarkably promising!
Thank you Mr. Andre for sharing this valuable knowledge to us, we wish you good luck for your next post to Darwin! Thank you Mira and Tiar for organizing this workshop, and thank you IFI for letting us use one of your classrooms! Looking forward for other resources development activities!
About the author
Ira is a contributor in Polyglot Indonesia since 2014 after coming back from Europe from her Master studies majoring in Energy and Environment. She currently works as a consutant in the renewable energy sector, believing that sustainable development is the key to a better future.