Spanish Graduate Certificate Program in Translation and Interpreting

Simultaneous Interpreters in Action -- Students from the Spanish Graduate Certificate Program in Translation and Interpreting at Montclair State University not only engage in simultaneous interpreting in the state-of-the-art translation laboratory in Conrad Schmitt Hall, but have also served as simultaneous interpreters at two important events in New York.

 MSU student Fabiola Grijalva assisted a global delegation to the UN Commission on the Status of Women and served as interpreter to women from Latin America under the auspices of United Methodist Women, a women’s-rights non-profit organization based in New York City. Fabiola accompanied delegates from Honduras and Colombia to different events at the Church Center for the United Nations and surrounding areas on March 7, 2015.

Her task was to perform whispering interpretation from English into Spanish throughout the day. In Fabiola’s own words: “I enjoyed this experience not only because it allowed me to perform and work in a field I love, but also because I had the opportunity to meet extremely interesting people and colleagues. It was my first experience doing simultaneous/whispering interpreting but magically the techniques and academic training learned at MSU became second nature at that specific moment and words just flowed as I needed them!”

On March 12, MSU students Alfredo Oquendo, María José Orgeira and Colleen O’Rourke were hired by the Spanish Federation of Women Managers, Executives, Professionals and Entrepreneurs (FEDEPE) to serve as simultaneous interpreters for the round table FEDEPE organized at the Instituto Cervantes in New York City. The round table focused on initiatives to promote economic empowerment and women's leadership in 2015.

It was moderated by radio personality Guillermo Fesser and included five renowned speakers: Ana Bujaldón Solana (President of FEDEPE), Marta Carmen Plaza (Director of the Spanish Institute for Women and Equal Opportunities), Marta Echarri (Vice President – J.P. Morgan Private Bank), Begoña Lasagabaster (Director of Policy Division of UN Women), and Lore Monnig (Market Manager at Wall Street).

Alfredo, María José and Colleen used this unique opportunity to demonstrate their talents in a professional setting and delivered excellent renditions as simultaneous interpreters from Spanish into English and vice versa. High praise and congratulations from both audience and organizers after the event attested to their superior performance.

Asked to describe the experience, Colleen remarked: “We felt very honored to be chosen to participate in this event, but the most important part was that we were accompanied and supported throughout the whole experience by our MSU professors. It was our first experience actually doing simultaneous interpreting outside of our classroom. It was exciting, but also nerve wracking. It truly is an art and it requires nerves of steel. We experienced a real life situation and also the reality of technology issues in this type of situation. We had some challenges with the equipment, some moments when participants were not using their microphones properly and the audio did not reach us, but we had the support of our professors to help us through the situation. Simultaneous interpreting requires many years of training, but it was truly motivating to take our first attempt in such a prestigious environment.”

Special thanks are extended to Dr. Raúl Galoppe of the Spanish and Italian Department who designed and teaches the two graduate courses in Simulteanous and Consecutive Interpreting, and to Dr. María José García Vizcaíno, director of the Graduate Certificate Program in Translation and Interpreting. The work they have done with MSU students is a powerful example of what happens when students put into practice what they learn in class. The leap from classroom to renowned institutions in NY is a mighty one and MSU students executed it with professionalism and skill. Kudos to all four accomplished interpreters!