Monthly Archives: January 2012

A Premier Exponent of Broadcast Interpreting – Cesar Cardoza

I think we can learn much from colleagues who are at the top of their game and so I like to write about some of the ones I have been fortunate to meet and with whom I have enough of a rapport that they have agreed to have a public conversation about their work.  I am sure there are many of these individuals and  trust I will be able to feature more of them on an ongoing basis.

This is my friend Cesar whom I met many years ago when we started to work together on “live” shows for CNN. He is not only an excellent interpreter but has a wonderful sense of humor and an enthralling voice that mesmerizes you.  I reminds me of when I was a little girl in Cuba and at lunchtime I would sometimes take a nap with my grandmother while she listened to a radionovela.  There was an actor back then by the name of Enrique Santiesteban, who had such a voice.  He would say “bebe de mi copa pequena” (take a sip from my glass darling) and every female from an eight year old to an eighty year old would melt in her shoes.  I can say this has happened to me while working with Cesar in a recording booth.  I get so caught up listening to his melodic voice that it takes a swift kick to make sure I not lose my cue.

Without any further ado, here is a brief intro into the life of one of our interpreting colleagues on TV:

What was your background and how did you get involved with interpreting?

I am a journalist, and I was sort of “pulled into” interpreting due to the nature of my work. I worked for several years in international broadcasting and quite often I had to interpret material for my audience… I fell in love with it and as they say, the rest is history.

Walk us through a typical day when you were working for CNN in Atlanta?

For an interpreter in the news business, I would say there is no such thing as a “typical day”. Occasionally you get advance notice of an event, but more often than not, you have to go with the flow. This is especially true with breaking news… it is quite challenging because you really don’t know what to expect, and at a moment’s notice you may have to switch… let’s say… from science to politics, to finances, to terrorism or military issues…

Tell us about some of your most challenging assignments? How did you prepare?

On many occasions the challenge for me, like for almost every journalist and interpreter, is to remain focused on what you are doing regardless of whatever else may be happening… You are interpreting and at the same time you have to be mindful of the time… you are getting instructions from the director or the producer… you may need to consult a reference as you are interpreting… and so on.

The challenges abound… sometimes in the middle of a very dense political speech, the speaker throws in a joke and you have to interpret it faithfully… keep it witty or funny within the context and convey the point that the speaker is trying to make…

You may have, lets say, a message from the Pope and he quotes the Bible… you have to refer to the “official” biblical text… you cannot paraphrase… Sometimes the news event may be emotionally overwhelming on a personal level, yet, you cannot lose  focus of the task at hand.

Is/was stress management important in your work? What resources do/did  you employ to release stress?

Absolutely, there is no way to avoid stress but if you try to organize yourself before hand, it is a big help. In our case, for example, you keep meticulous track of your reference material… dictionaries, glossaries, etc. If you have enough lead time you may create a playbook for the event with whatever material is available in both languages.  The way you manage your work space also helps… where you keep your notes… where  you put your scripts or program rundowns… it is like having a mental map that help you stay the course no matter what happens. Sometimes the adrenalin pumps so hard that you also feel the stress after the event…

What are you currently doing?  Do you enjoy that more?  Why?

I work for CNN but now I am based in Miami. I am Senior Interpreter/Copy Editor for CNN en Español. I love what I do. It give me a very unique perspective of what is going on in the world and you get your information straight from the key players… it is a pleasure and a privilege to have the responsibility of conveying the news to our viewers… it has been said that journalists “write the first draft of history”… for an interpreter in the news business… it is exactly that… we bridge the language gap and become a link between the viewer and the newsmakers.


How Goal Setting Compares to Mountain Climbing

My mountain climbing experience, while limited, includes an excursion on the beautiful Inca Trail, in Peru.  There are many allegorical parallels between mountain climbing and goal setting which I’d like to discuss.

Adapt to your environment

Upon reaching the summit, as with any goal, you can expect to feel a great sense of achievement, but on the way toward your goal you will certainly encounter obstacles. On the Inca trail I had altitude sickness, but following instructions, I became accustomed to the scarce oxygen and at daybreak was able to enjoy seeing the breathtaking Sun Gate, offering spectacular views of Machu Picchu, our  goal on the climb.

Fortunately, by the time you make it to the top either in mountain climbing or through one of  life’s lessons, you have usually acquired the equanimity to calmly enjoy your surroundings, plus a quiver of tools that  allow you to overcome difficulties. Along the way, you start understanding your new environment.  Once you reach your goal, the problems may not have changed, but you will have. You will be better equipped to understand them, deal with them and experience the unique transformations that can only come after a journey.  In many cases, as you develop, your vision changes.  You mature as you assimilate lessons. Your arsenal is fortified, though perhaps not in the way you anticipated.

As the old Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” To reach the top, one must first visualize how to get there.  At ground level, perspective is not the same as at the summit, where you have a bird’s eye view of the topography. At first, it may seem that the climb is through an impenetrable jungle but as you climb methodically,  you are better able to pick your paths.  The view improves as you gain altitude and the trees start to thin out. The winning combination is knowing what you want and which of your personal values support your goals.

Have faith

In any project, have faith that you can accomplish whatever you can imagine. Start taking baby steps to implement that vision. That you can imagine the result is an indication that you have the necessary resources to go forward. There is no greater deterrent to fulfilling goals than inertia or fear of failure, which keeps one from taking action, as when, for example, a person decides not to follow his dream of becoming an accomplished musician because of the practice, auditions and competitions that are part of the journey.

In practice however, everything sorts itself out gradually and the more ground one covers, the more prepared one is to overcome once seemingly insurmountable odds.  Once you mindfully begin the ascent, hitherto unseen opportunities open along your path and hasten progress.

I am reminded of when I made the commitment to go back to school for an MBA  at the age of 56.  It had been over 30 years since I had been a student.  I had a phobia about the level of math skills I would need. I had tried to go back to school before and had had to drop out for lack of time. I was fully engaged in running my language services company on a day-to-day basis, and the economy was in the midst of a recession. We were working twice as hard for less profit. It seemed impossible, yet one step at a time, I submitted the paperwork, attended orientations, took online courses and hired a tutor to supplement my finance and accounting skills. I found an executive program that met on Saturdays so I could continue to work. I focused on putting my best foot forward and was persistent in my efforts to do well.

Be tenacious

I was the eldest student in the class and at the end of two years was voted most outstanding by the faculty.  It all happened because I sustained my vision of getting the degree and applied personal values such as sense of responsibility, appetite for problem-solving and love of knowledge.    It was a taxing but rewarding experience which has stood me in good stead. Yet it would not have happened if I had not confidently started the climb and stuck it out. The experience led me to corroborate that one can achieve whatever one can visualize. Since then, I have gone on to fulfill other personal and business goals once considered farfetched, like offering  interpreting services around the globe, being a guest lecturer, writing articles regularly for several publications, getting an advanced scuba diver certification, and teaching yoga.

My brother, Alberto Salazar, a world-class marathoner in the 1980’s, relates similar experiences in striving toward significant goals.  While only in his twenties he tallied major victories at the New York and Boston marathons. He visualized himself winning, held that image, trained and learned from the experts. During each   race, he would just concentrate on placing one foot in front of the other, until he crossed the finish line.  I remember visiting him after he set a world record at the NY Marathon in 1981.  He was lying in bed in a suite at the St. Regis, enthusiastically chatting with the family, when I noticed the bed sheets around his feet were all bloodied.  He explained matter-of-factly that he had lost several toenails in the process.

Here, then, is one of the many lessons to be learned: always be  prepared to put some skin in the game if you consider the result  worthwhile.

Interpreters Listen Up!

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