Being the eldest child of parents who only spoke Spanish came with many responsibilities, one of which was translating. As a child I detested translating, but with age I learned to like the challenge of converting words from one language to another. I remember sitting in the car with my mom one day and translating an NSYNC song to Spanish because she wanted to know what the song said, up to then I had never realized how fast and accurate I was. It was this day that I realized that I wanted to pursue a career which involved my usage of both languages, I had never been so proud of my translating skills. To this day I occasionally catch myself in my car trying to translate songs from English to Spanish as fast as possible or vice versa. I hate to admit that it’s a very bad habit because sometimes I can’t stop my brain from doing it so that I can enjoy the song.
Being a bilingual instructional assistant at Colton Middle requires that I translate IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings for non-English speaking parents. This, you would think, should be a “piece of cake” but it’s not. You see I’ve never really been required to translate anything in a formal setting up until I started working at the middle school. My first formal meeting was so dreadful that just thinking about it gives me chills. I walked in to the meeting thinking that I would just be translating behavioral issues but I was wrong. I had really walked in to a room with about 5 teachers, a counselor, the school psychologist, the principal, a social worker and a member of the district. I was so nervous that I was hoping and praying for an earthquake just so I wouldn’t have to translate. When the psychologist started to throw out terminology that I wasn’t familiar with I wanted to crawl up under a rock and die. I had never felt so illiterate in my life, not even when I first started second grade without knowing a word in English. That day I went home and looked up words that I had remembered. I also asked one of the other bilingual aides if I could observe a couple of her meetings, to familiarize myself with the terminology. It has now been about two years and over 40 meetings since that horrifying first that I have become immune to such embarrassment and more familiar with psychological terminology. I now translate those meetings as if I have been doing them my whole life, but I will never forget that horrific incident.