Hanna Mata, TI ’19

Bolshoi Ballet Academy & Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital Summer Internship

This summer, I had the honor and joy of interning at both the Bolshoi Ballet Academy and Mount Sinai hospital as an interpreter.

Interpreting for the Bolshoi Ballet Academy instructors was a truly incredible and rewarding experience. I worked 5 days a week for 6 weeks, interpreting on average five hours a day. The first two classes focused on technique and working on point, the second two were character ones. At the beginning of each class the teacher delivered a short speech to inspire the dancers for the upcoming day of rigorous work.

A valuable lesson that I quickly picked up on was that no matter how thoroughly you prepared for the subject, there was always a term, technical word, or expression that one may only come across when working in a particular field. These unique, contextual challenges taught me how to quickly think on my feet and find an equivalent.

Also, it was important to have an understanding between the client and the interpreter to resolve any misunderstandings that may arise. Interpreting humor was another challenge. Due to cultural differences, old school Russian humor did not always connect with an American teenage audience. The same applied to many analogies and metaphors. I did my best to find a compatible equivalent or quickly explained the joke.

As it turns out, interpreting for the Ballet was not limited to just technique terminology. Oftentimes, the teachers would provide a brief history of the dance, speaking to its cultural ties, telling personal stories or providing short inspirational speeches in order to inspire students to do better in classes, work harder, and prep for the final performance.

I was given the responsibility of chief interpreter for the final rehearsal, which involved interpretation for all student groups and teachers. The tensions were high due to time constraints as well as the teachers’ lofty expectations of delivering a perfect performance on stage. As an interpreter, it was important for me to keep my calm in order to continue providing quality interpretation.

At the end of the program, one of the dancers told me that I had inspired her to pursue a career as a Russian interpreter/translator. I was truly touched by her comment as it was gratifying to know that I had inspired someone to pursue their career by doing what I love.

In regard to my medical internship at Mount Sinai hospital, it significantly expanded my medical vocabulary and knowledge in the field. I received training in remote interpretation as well as medical interpreter training. It taught me the code of conducts, ethics in video and phone interpretation, and boosted my knowledge in human anatomy. I also tried my hand at consecutive interpretation in different units.

As with the ballet, interpreting for the hospital was not limited to just medical terminology. The interaction between the providers and patients delved into different topics, such as fishing, sports, and traditions. I was there not only to interpret, but also to explain or clarify on certain cultural references.

Overall, it was a very productive summer. I had the wonderful opportunity to intern for two prestigious institutions such as the Bolshoi Ballet Academy and Mount Sinai hospital. I met new people, made new friends, and had an amazing hands-on experience in translating and interpreting.

“Thank you cards from the ballerinas.”

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