Sima Keyvan

Sima Keyvan, a Certified Farsi (Persian) interpreter, reflects on the benefits of interpreting as a career.

Sima Keyvan

I am a Certified Farsi (Persian) interpreter based in Melbourne. I believe that a good interpreter never stops learning and improving their skills. I was born in Tehran, Iran, to Russian parents. I studied English and Arabic in my early years, and supplemented these with counselling courses when I came to Australia. Throughout my life I have seen the importance of language for effective relations, interpersonal and cross-cultural communication and overcoming barriers. With my natural ability to connect with people and passion for helping others, I decided to pursue an interpreting career.

I believe interpreters are not just responsible for converting one language to another, but also for accurately conveying the emotion of a concept and upholding ethical and professional conduct at all times. Interpreters are required to be impartial, not advocate, and maintain appropriate professional boundaries with clients. Interpreters should be resilient and prepared to work with vulnerable or traumatised clients in unpredictable, challenging situations. While these challenges can be confronting, I encourage interpreters to be mindful and attentive to their personal health and mental wellbeing.

I see the continued development of professional skills and knowledge as vital to excellence in the field. Building your vocabulary and having understanding of the languages and cultures you are interpreting is an ongoing process. I read articles, watch videos, and exchange ideas and experiences in discussion groups to keep up-to-date with changes in the interpreting world. I immediately take notes on my phone of new words I encounter, particularly technical terms and slang. I also find that it is helpful to perform activities to improve memory retention, like brain-training puzzles, as well as practicing note-taking skills.

The rewards and experiences of being an interpreter include working with a range of different people, developing coalitions with others and building experience by working in different fields, and helping people. As an interpreter I have had the opportunity to meet and work with people from different backgrounds, cultures, races, and religions. Interpreting gives me the opportunity to expand my social network, share experiences with others, and learn more about different cultures and creeds.

Interpreters also have the advantage of working with specialists like medical or legal, who are experts in their field, and adds to your general knowledge of different practices. Working in difficult environments gives you a newfound appreciation for blessings in your own life. I feel that being positive has an impact internally as well as on others you interact with. I am passionate about helping others and believe interpreting is very rewarding.

'Translation is that which transforms everything so that nothing changes’
― Günter Grass, recipient of the 1999 Nobel Prize for Literature