Thursday, February 4, 2010

Three Months Ago, I Never Would Have Believed My Brain Could Function Like This

During the past four days of crazy-busy workweek chaos, I have suddenly realized something: if you had told me three months ago that my job here would involve what it has involved these past few weeks, I definitely don't think I would have believed you.

Basically, I can't believe my brain is still alive after all the English-Spanish ping pong I have put it through so far.

Coming into my job here, I knew a few things. I knew that all my writing for the website would be in English. However, I knew that my co-workers would speak Spanish, and I knew that many people I interviewed would also only speak Spanish. What I don't think I knew was just how much of my day would be spent acting as a translator, both for myself and for others.

Here's an example: Last week I received a set of questions that needed to be answered about the NPH Guatemala house, and I needed to find our Public Relations Coordinator in order to get those answers. Here's how it went down.

Questions emailed to me in English. I emailed the Public Relations Coordinator in Spanish and attached the questions. She came in to tell me she didn't understand enough English to answer them. So, I looked at the question in English, translated in my head, and asked her in Spanish. She answered in Spanish. I wrote down in Spanish. I translated back to English for the original document. I then sent the completed list of English answers back to our National Director with an email written in Spanish.

Exhausted from trying to keep up???

Welcome to my daily life. This week, it was another set of questions -- except this set was seven pages long and required I chase down about 10 different people. Also, I already write more work emails in Spanish than English. I have moments during the day now when I have to stop and think "Ok, writing in English right now." Otherwise, it ends up being a really bad grab bag of both languages...and not very articulate.

At first I didn't believe the older volunteers when they told us that during your year here, your English sort haha. Now, I think I get exactly what what they were talking about.

When I stop and take a second to think about it, the whole thing just seems crazy. I can't believe I'm working with all the important coordinators at NPH Guatemala, sending professional emails to NPH fundraisers all around the world, doing it all in Spanish (or in both Spanish and English), and somehow communicating well enough to make it all work.

Very cool.

My brain may be exhausted a lot of the time, but I'd say it's definitely all worth it. What a crazy experience. :)

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