Nowadays, young adults are pressured to know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives. But the reality is they rarely do. I’m the exception. Remember those origami friendship notes you used to pass on in class? When I started correcting my friends’ grammar in these notes, in Grade 5, with a red pen, I knew that languages had chosen me.
At school, my enthusiasm for languages – especially Afrikaans, my mother tongue – really blossomed. Both in my mother’s Afrikaans class and outside the classroom on many eisteddfod and public-speaking stages.
After school, I couldn’t wait to follow in the footsteps of my aunt, also a language practitioner. I was fortunate to study at Stellenbosch University with its excellent lecturers and vast resources in the field of translation and editing, and obtained a BA in Humanities and a Postgraduate Diploma in Translation. It was during the course of my studies that I learned the finer nuances of language, translation and editing. I prefer the Afrikaans word “taalversorging” because it describes exactly what we do – we “look after”, “care for” and “nurture” language in a world full of devil-may-care language users. After graduating, I started my career in the language department of a stakeholder communications company specialising in financial and integrated reports for public and listed companies. It is an interesting, dynamic and complex industry; however, something was missing. At first, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, until I realised: It lacked a human element; knowing that my work had an actual impact on others.
And that is one of the main reasons why I’m so excited to be part of the Folio team and to be managing Folio InterTel. Our instant telephonic interpreting service breaks through the language barrier so that patients can communicate effectively with medical professionals. At the touch of a button, non-English speakers have access to skilled medical interpreters in 39 languages – a service that not only streamlines cross-cultural communication, but also saves lives.
And that’s my story! For the first time I’m feeling fulfilled as a language practitioner. It’s wonderful coming to work every day and knowing that the work we do and the services we offer have tangible, positive effects on people’s lives.