By Tereza Braga
Name: My name is Gilvanete Rocha Surine. You can call me Gil.
Where I live: Oakdale, Minnesota.
What I do:
I have been working for more than 12 years with School District 622 of North Saint Paul, Maplewood and Oakdale as a cultural liaison and interpreter, with a 10-month contract, so right now I am on vacation. I was extremely busy right after spring break because of the pandemic. The school closings and the new distance-learning scenario have brought new difficulties not only for teachers, but also for people like me, who work extensively with parents. All of a sudden we had to get busy helping the students use the remote-learning technologies, and not only that, but also help the parents with limited English skills to learn how to interact with the teachers, hold meetings over the internet, and also help their own kids deal with the new normal.
On a personal note, I have been using this time off to study and improve my Italian. I practice yoga (I even have a certificate as an instructor), and I like to cook. I go for natural foods, I avoid meat, but I have to say I do love making desserts. I enjoy painting, drawing, arts and crafts in general, and I am trying to improve as a painter.
I am proud of:
I am proud of my development as an interpreter over the years, especially here in Minnesota, where the Minnesota Department of Education has been doing a wonderful and difficult job of training us to be experts in the Special Education field. I try to take every possible training program, and I have even repeated some of them. I want to improve always and to be able to help others by conveying new information and motivating my colleagues to get training. I am also proud of being an advocate for our profession and for bilingualism. For example, we are organizing an event to address our bilingual students and students learning other languages, and talk to them about careers in interpreting/translating.
I am Brazilian, born in the beautiful state of Bahia. My entire family lives in Brazil, and you may ask how can a Bahiana stand cold, cold Minnesota? Well, I met my Minnesotan husband in Brazil and the rest is history. I studied French language and literature at PUC-SP (Pontifical Catholic University), with a minor in translation/interpretation. Here in Minnesota, I have a master’s in educational leadership.
Best thing about being an ATA/PLD member
I think it is very important that we inform people. There is a lot involved in being a translator/interpreter. Most people still believe that all you need is the ability to speak two languages – no way! And one has to be a good interpreter/translator to give talks on bilingualism, special education, and the education necessary for that. In this, ATA and its divisions and chapters have an important job. And it’s a never-ending job.
Major challenge(s) in my career:
I love working for my school district, and I say “my” because I live in the area. It’s where my son went to school. However, it’s hard to climb the ladder because there is no career plan for those who opt to stay in the job and at the same organization. I feel that I have a mission here in my community because there are a lot of newcomers, and I want to help them. Here I use mostly Spanish, but once in a while we get Brazilians or French speakers, and I have opportunities to use my other languages. Another challenge is to “organize” the meetings with interpretation, because sometimes people sit down and start the meeting without much of an introduction. I have to interrupt them and give my presentation and explain HOW I am going to interpret. It is all part of the education we must provide. Another challenge would be the accents of people from different parts of the world, during simultaneous interpretation. You can’t count on time or prior contacts with the speaker to ask for repetition.
What I’m reading now:
I am finishing a book by a Polish author, Olga Tokarczuk. It’s called “Flights” and it was translated into English by Jennifer Croft. My Brazilian list includes “O Uraguai,” by Basílio da Gama; “A Elite do Atraso,” by Jessé Souza; and “A Voz que Canta na Voz que Fala – Poética e Política na Trajetória de Gilberto Gil,” by Pedro Henrique Varoni de Carvalho.
To just enjoy my vacation.