NAME: Maria Elena Belli
PROFESSION: Conference interpreter
WORK LANGUAGES: Italian (mother tongue), English, French, German
PLACE OF RESIDENCE AND WORK: Luxembourg (residence). Work: Luxembourg, Brussels, Paris, Strasbourg and Rome.
What kind of interpreting work do you do and what type of clients do you work with?
I provide different kinds of interpreting services: from simultaneous interpreting to consecutive, liaison and chuchotage.
Each interpreting technique is suitable for a certain kind of event and environment, therefore I provide simultaneous interpreting services mainly for the EU institutions and conferences organised by associations and private clients, consecutive for court cases and business meetings, liaison and chuchotage for all those circumstances where there isn’t any technical equipment available and the number of attendees requesting the interpreting service is very limited (usually one or two).
I have a wide range of different clients and I can say that each one of them makes me experience a different aspect of my profession. Simultaneous interpreting can involve subjects of general interest that sometimes we can discover through the eyes of the experts (for example the Brexit issue, threats to democracy and the digital revolution) or very specific topics, almost unknown to us before the conference (such as in the medical field).
As far as consecutive and liaison interpreting is concerned, I usually use them during court cases and private meetings, where we as interpreters can create strong bonds with the people we get in touch with (for me this is particularly the case when I work at the court, when I get to know the details of a case or a story).
Also, as an Italian mother tongue interpreter, I sometimes work for religious congregations: very interesting and challenges experiences, due to the specificity of the language and the environment.
Can you provide a brief description of your typical work day?
It is very difficult to describe a typical work day for an interpreter, due to the heterogeneity of the assignments, locations and work environments.
Nevertheless, there are a few, important moments in each working day, such as:
– the arrival to the premises of the event: for me it’s very important to arrive in advance, to check the technical equipment and to have a briefing with the client. If possible, even a chat with the main speaker(s) might be useful, to get used to accents.
– meeting the colleague if it’s the first time we work together: having the time for a chat and a short briefing with the colleague is very important to create a good work environment and to organise the work.
– lunch/breaks: it’s an important moment for our networking;
– end of the day and going back home: I usually try to gather the new terminology (if any) I collected during the day.
What aspects of your profession do you enjoy most?
I particularly enjoy the variety of topics and environments we are exposed to and I realize that this is both a positive aspect of our profession and a challenge. Nevertheless, challenges allow us to grow professionally and personally and to nurture the curiosity that is a precondition for our job.
Which aspects do you least enjoy?
I don’t like the lack of knowledge surrounding our profession: sometimes clients don’t exactly understand our requests and we have to explain them which are the necessary conditions for us to provide a professional service.
How long have you been working as an interpreter?
I have been working as an interpreter for 10 years.
Did you in fact study to become an interpreter?
Yes, I attended an MA in conference interpreting.
What is your career path? Why did you make the decision to work as an interpreter?
I have mainly worked as an interpreter since I started. I have always been interested in foreign languages and the idea of helping people communicate with each other fascinated me since the very beginning of my studies.
Therefore, after my high school diploma in foreign languages, I continued with a Bachelor in foreign languages at the University « L’Orientale » in Naples.
After having obtained my bachelor, I decided that the time had come to fulfil my dream and I took the test to be admitted to the MA in conference interpreting at the UNINT in Rome.
I can say that the day I have got my result was, together with the day of the final exam, one of the happiest of my life. Day by day, spending hours in the booth, I was more and more convinced that this was my job and I can say that with interpreting, that’s the only way to understand it.
Is interpreting your sole professional occupation? If not, in what other fields are you involved?
I also translate, mainly legal documents: this gives me the opportunity to know more about the legal field and, often, to get new clients for my interpreting activity.
For more information, feel free to explore Maria Elena’s website.
Spanish and English > French translator
French and Spanish teacher (face-to-face/Skype)