My Brussels experience
As a result of my wining the Young Achiever Award last October, I was asked what prize I wanted. It had always been my dream to go to Brussels to shadow an interpreter because my greatest ambition is to be an interpreter myself one day. Not only was I granted this amazing wish but I also had the amazing opportunity to meet 2 blind interpreters, Sabine and Nicky, the former Spanish and French and the latter British, as well as a Spanish basque interpreter called Arantxa Erro, a French interpreter named Agnes Butin, the Head of Training for Interpreters, Alison Graves and the Deputy Head of Cabinet of the President of the European Parliament. I also had the great privilege to meet Mrs Rita Silva who is the Director of DG INTE who organised the details of my day at the Parliament and also Mr. Sturdy, who is the MEP who made all of this possible for me. All these incredible people were so kind, patient and approachable that I had no reason at all to feel nervous. Somehow I felt as if I had always known them!
Amazingly, at the end of my day at the Parliament, the Deputy Head of Cabinet of the President of the European Parliament presented me with a magnificent medal with the semi-circle of the room where parliament meets and which also features the interpreting booths on one side, and a replica of a sculpture that can be found in the European Parliament. I was put to the test of interpreting a conference about food labeling and how radio activity may be found in Japanese food. For this, I worked with Alison, the Head of Training for Intepreters and we had a great time working as a team. I was not aware though that the press was standing behind my back on several occasions recording my sentences! I was wearing the interpreting headphones and concentrating on the task in hand which made me unaware of their presence. There were occasions when I did not know some of the words needed to do the job but on the whole, I managed to produce a few sentences here and there. I just loved the atmosphere in the small booth where we were, surrounded by many languages coming out of the interpreting console. The seat was extremely comfortable, the room soundproof and air conditioned and there was a computer screen on the table showing who the Member of the Parliament speaking during the session was. I loved every minute and second of this and could have stayed there for many more hours.
My meetings with the different interpreters was a great source of inspiration. I just loved listening to them telling me about the training they had to do before becoming interpreters and about the details of what their job entails. The fact that they were there sitting in front of me and talking to me when they were so busy themselves made me feel very special.
I must mention the extraordinary room which had been arranged for us to go back to to rest throughout the day. This was a protocol room where only high powered politicians and royals were allowed! None of the people I met in there that day had ever been in that room before.
My parents and I travelled on the Eurostar and the trip was only two hours long from London. We were put up in the Renaissance hotel as hosts of Mr Robert Sturdy, MEP.
The hotel itself was incredibly beautiful and impressive. It had a swimming-pool, a Sauna, a Jacuzzi and a Lounge Club, where we could go for tasty snacks and meals throughout the day. We had a junior suite for a room! What an incredible treat!
Our suite overlooked the parliament, which was very inspiring.
It was a dream come true, and, perhaps one day, I could return. This time not for fun, but for business! To think that the interpreting booth could one day become my second home fills me with a delight beyond any other.
Brussels is an amazing place,
So much so that just in case
I stain my face
With tears of misery and regret
At having to leave it,
I have been invited back at any time
Which I will never be able to forget.