Eleanor was born in the south of Italy, in the beautiful coastal town of Calabria, located right on the boot’s toe. Back then it was a little place and she recalls the peaceful experience of falling asleep each night to the sounds of the sea.
Eleanor, her parents and four siblings made the move to start a new life in Australia in the mid 1950s, and her interest in becoming an Interpreter began many years later after her own children started school. She read an advertisement in a newspaper promoting short courses in Interpreting, and she decided to apply, successfully completing the six month course. And she loved it.
In fact she loved it so much that soon after the short course was finished, she decided to enrol into the one year Interpreting course at RMIT. Managing family life as well as studying wasn’t always easy, however Eleanor’s passion and determination to learn and to start a new career was very strong. This assisted in her ability to commit to undertaking the course, often working on assignments at night time, once the children were in bed.
Her first interpreting jobs were in the mental health sector, where she received additional training and supervision to equip her and her co-workers with all the skills to help clients and patients in sometimes challenging situations. Being one of the long-term Interpreters to work in the mental health sector, Eleanor was also asked to be involved in contributing to the development of a manual “How to Work with Interpreters” in Mental Health.
The wide variety of Interpreting assignments Eleanor now attends has continued to grow over the years. She enjoys the variety and the opportunity to work with lots of different people. “I enjoy working as an Interpreter as it provides me with so much diverse learning every single day, in every single session!” she exclaims.
What appealed to Eleanor to work as an Interpreter the most, was and still is, the love and passion in delivering a high quality service and helping people to get their message across as accurately as possible. Part of this, is the understanding of the way words are used and expressed according to people’s own culture and values.
What makes a good interpreter in Eleanor’s opinion? “First of all, it’s important to have an adaptable personality to deal with the many different professionals and clients that one encounters daily” she says. “Try to translate the message from the client and patient with intelligence, expertise, compassion and empathy and always be transparent and honest when it comes to communicating.”
She also suggests that it’s important to ask the client to provide a briefing before the interpreting session starts, to assist in understanding the context to structure the information the right way, and to help in getting the best outcome for both the client and the patient.
Eleanor says working as an Interpreter is an exhilarating experience. “Not a session goes by without thanking my lucky stars for working in this field. I love the feeling of being valued for my work in delivering such an important service. It’s a great honour and privilege, and brings me a lot of enjoyment.”
When Eleanor is not Interpreting, she can be found going on relaxing walks around her local Maribyrnong River, or along the beach. She also loves reading, confessing that she “buys more books that I actually have time to read!” Most of all, she enjoys making photo albums of her four beautiful grandchildren.
And as for her life in Australia, Eleanor says, “I love Australia, in particular Melbourne. It has become, in my eyes, the best city in the world!”