MEET OUR NEW ADMINISTRATOR
Julia, it’s a pleasure for us veteran PLD members to see you back, this time as the new PLD Administrator. Where are you spending most of your time these days?
After spending almost 20 years as a nomad, I went back to my father’s roots. I was born and raised in Lisbon, but now I’m living deep in the Alentejo region, in a small village called Vale da Feiteira, where my father was born. My best childhood memories are of being here in the fields with a sense of freedom, in contact with nature, during very hot, sunny summer days. It was all very natural and intense. It’s still one of the least densely populated areas in the country and has the most extreme climate―harsh winters and scorching, dry summers.
What’s your daily routine like, that is, if you have one now?
I’m not a fan of daily routines [chuckles], so I try to do things differently every day. I like switching things around. I change my environment frequently, just because I can. Maybe the only constant for quite a few years now, wherever I may be, is the fact that I cannot function without having two cups of coffee as soon as I wake up. After that… no day is like any other. No assignment is like any other, which is the benefit and privilege I get to enjoy in my line of work and in my life. I am free to change plans and do things differently. I like being present in what I do. Once you settle into a routine, you don’t have to stop and think about things as much, and I’ve always tried to avoid that pattern.
What recent accomplishments are you most proud of?
I believe we all accomplish something every day. It may be something small. I try to always be present in what I do and truly experience it. Life is made of many small things, and these small things and our choices make a difference. There isn’t much room for pride, but for gratitude―I’m grateful for my life, my family, my friends, my community. I like what I do, I’m always cheerful, and I rarely feel unhappy. That’s enough for me… at least up till now, it has certainly been enough.
A little bird told me (okay, you told me yourself) that you enjoy capoeira. How did you get started?
It’s true. I practice capoeira, but I can no longer train at a competitive level. I started out when I was older, and I had some injuries from the sports I had played in my youth, so I had to pull back from daily capoeira lessons. However, capoeira is much more than just physical training. When I lived in South Africa, I joined a capoeira project for children who lived in some of the most problematic townships in the Cape Town metropolitan area. I witnessed many heartbreaking events, but I also saw many inspiring moments of people overcoming difficulties, and I’ll never forget that. I decided to only remember the best moments. I learned a lot from capoeira, and I’ll always practice it. I still hear the beat of berimbau in my heart and the atabaque drums still awaken my spirit.
I believe you’re also good at cooking, because I have witnessed your talent with my own eyes and taste buds. Do you have any other hidden talents?
I’m not sure if it’s a talent [chuckles], but I do enjoy cooking and entertaining, which doesn’t happen every day. I hate fast food. When I was little, I learned to do it all because learning how to cook was a natural thing. We rarely had processed foods at home. We didn’t have anyone to cook and clean for us, so the entire family shared the chores―women, men, adults and children. There were no “girl chores” and “boy chores.” When I was ten, I used to help my dad fix a flat tire on his truck just as much as I helped my mother make homemade cheese and yogurt. It’s not a matter of talent, but just learning and doing it.
I remember a bit of your professional background from when we first started interacting back in the day. Could you summarize your experiences for newer PLD members who may not know you?
My background is in international business administration and marketing. I worked for global businesses and technology companies in different countries―and continents. Concurrently, back in the 1990s and early 2000s, I continued developing my freelance career and providing translation, localization, and interpretation services. I can hardly believe that I delivered my first translation over 30 years ago!
You mentioned you spent twenty years as a nomad―when “you lived all over the world and went by your home only once in a while,” as a common friend used to say. I marvel at the years you spent in Cape Town, which is still on my list. Would you mind telling us about some of your other destinations?
There were so many these past years [chuckles]. I’d have to look them up in my expired passports! Excluding places where I spent less than three months, I left Portugal when I was thirty-something, moved to the United States, then to Germany, and finally to South Africa. During the past two decades, I managed to visit almost fifty countries. I must have been to a total of sixty countries by now.
Now, answer quickly, without thinking too much… What do you enjoy the most: translating or interpreting?
I like both. I used to think that I was good at “flirting with words” as a translator, but over time, I realized that working as both a translator and an interpreter is what brings me joy as a professional. I also work as a hypnotherapist, although less frequently than as a language professional, but having these three activities really makes me feel fulfilled.
Do you feel you had any major challenges in your career?
I can’t really pinpoint major challenges. I might have had small and frequent challenges. As language professionals, we are in the business of solving problems, both big and small. Once they’re solved, they’re no longer a challenge. Hopefully we learn from them and then move on. My motto is, “Ready. Done. Next!”
I joined ATA in the mid-1990s. How about you?
I joined ATA and PLD in 2005.
But you’ve already been part of the Leadership Committee, correct? Under which administration was it?
I was the Assistant Administrator when Eloisa Marques was the Administrator. The structure, responsibilities and ambitions of ATA Divisions were different back then.
My memory may be failing me now, but you may be the first PLD Administrator who was born and lives in Portugal. What are your expectations in this position?
I’m not sure. Am I the first one? Maybe there has been someone else before me at the helm of PLD on this side of the Atlantic. Personally, I’d like to see our Portuguese language―with all its norms and variants―getting a more relevant space in the division’s activities and social media. I envision the PLD as a space of Portuguese language inclusion and diversity, and I hope that we get more contributions from Mozambique, Guinea, Angola, Cape Verde, East Timor, and Sao Tome and Principe. It could be with interviews, literature and poetry. Working closely with ATA headquarters, I’d like to ensure that all division members are aware of the opportunities that ATA makes available to us, and I want to show ATA that we are a valuable division, which is part of the job description, too. I’m excited about the opportunity to work with the newly elected Assistant Administrator, Ruth Hollard. We haven’t met yet, but I’m sure Ruth will be a responsive and knowledgeable assistant. And, of course, we can count on the great team of volunteers and the Leadership Council.
Finally, a question with which I always like to close my interviews: What’s on your reading list right now?
Por Amor à Língua by Manuel Monteiro is a good companion. Last night, I pulled from my bookshelf something written by my dear friend Marina Mander: La Prima Vera Bugia, and just finished reading it for the second time. Next on my list are O Erro de Descartes by António Damásio and História do Português desde o Big Bang by Marco Neves.
MEET OUR NEW ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR
Where do you live, Ruth?
I’m moving as we speak!
What are you doing these days?
I decided to take a “gap year” and move back to New York for a while. I am in the process of emptying a 5-bedroom house in São Paulo. Tonight! Today is August 6th, and my renters arrive in 36 hours.
Tell me something you’re proud of.
My four amazing kids. They are all in college or working now, and I hope to spend lots of time traveling and visiting with them. I have one in California, one in New York, one in Switzerland, and one in São Paulo. As a translator, I can do it!
Share a bit of your background with us.
I was born in Pennsylvania and raised in Louisiana. Right after college, I left home to spend one year abroad and ended up staying away from the U.S. for three decades. My first three children were born in Paris, and my youngest one, the caçula, is from São Paulo, a paulistana. I loved being a stay-at-home mom and, when I went back to work, I decided I wanted a career I could run from home. That is how I became a translator. It allowed me to balance my work and my personal life.
How long have you been a PLD member?
I must confess I don’t know… But it’s been quite a while, because I do remember our fun karaoke night in Chicago! Four teenagers kept me pretty busy (and tired) for a long time, so I have not been an active participant in the PLD.
What are your expectations as Assistant Administrator?
I will enjoy working with Julia to see how we can help the PLD continue to grow.
Have you ever faced a major challenge in your career?
I think the main challenge is to learn how to run your own business because of all the hats you need to wear. And there are smaller challenges, many of them. Every day there’s a new one!
What project are you currently working on or have completed recently?
For the last year, I have been translating a daily newsletter associated with the shipping industry. I never realized how interesting the logistics business is. My brain is happy learning something completely new.
Finally, what’s on your reading list right now?
I am currently reading “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead. I have a collection of 100 years of Pulitzer Prize fiction winners. Those are always my go-to books if I need something new to read.