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Working With Your Interpreter

A culture expert discusses utilizing your interpreter as a reliable information source.

Transcript

(Note: This transcript has been edited for readability.)
For young soldiers, it’s as simple as trying to make friends. Young soldiers and leaders are going to have interpreters. That interpreter, they should develop a friendship with that interpreter. They should be learning from that interpreter. Chances are, that interpreter has a lot of information and experience to share about that place. But you know what? He’s being paid to be an interpreter, not a teacher, so you have to draw that out of him. With me, when I was deployed, I always worked hard to develop strong bonds with my interpreter. I wanted my interpreter to live with me, not on the other side of the compound and just meet me at the meeting. We had to be friends, we had to spend a lot of time together. We had to eat together and kinda hang out together. I would always ask my interpreter to teach me some words and phrases. I would always ask him questions about the culture. One time I lived on a compound in Central America where I would make it a point to go and speak to the women who worked in the kitchen and try to get them to teach me a couple of new words and phrases every day. And they loved that. They got a big kick out of trying to teach me. So, these are all really simple things that anybody can do, but you’ve got to be brave. It gets back to that earlier point, no one’s going to spoon-feed you this, so you’ve got to kind of break out of your shell and make a conscious effort.

A culture expert discusses utilizing your interpreter as a reliable information source.