My name is Nermine Boulos and I am originally Egyptian, born in Cairo. I moved to live in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates for 15 years before migrating to Melbourne Australia in September 2011 as a skilled migrant, along with my family. In 2013 I enrolled at RMIT to study an Advanced Diploma of Interpreting. Translation and interpreting have always been my passion. I finished a Bachelor of Arts in the English language in Cairo at Ain Shams University where translation (from and into English) was my major subject. When I migrated to Australia I realised that there’s a huge Arabic community residing in Melbourne, most of whom are refugees with limited English. This further fuelled my passion to serve my community and use my knowledge and talents to help others.
In my career as an interpreter I love communicating with people and facilitating the conversation between two parties who otherwise wouldn’t be able to communicate with each other. The most enjoyable part for me is when a client says a long and complicated piece of information to the non-English speaker who looks completely puzzled, then after I interpret into their language, they understand exactly what has been said. This gives me great satisfaction.
At LanguageLoop I have accomplished a variety of jobs across many different types of assignments including medical, legal, educational, community services, mental health and many others. I literally enjoy every single type of job I do. However, my favourite jobs continue to be those related to community services, especially those that include new arrivals to Australia. From every job I learn new things every day, which enables me to be educated in almost every field, I gain a bit of information about everything!
I believe what makes a good interpreter is being very professional; this means resisting any temptation to push the boundaries of what is required of an interpreter. As interpreters we gain lots of knowledge about many different fields, therefore, it can sometimes be tempting to give advice, share information, or even at times correct the professional or non-English speaker. Once we fall into this trap we lose professionalism! I always need to remind myself that my role is to facilitate communication and allow both parties to understand one another, and strictly nothing more. I also believe having a friendly attitude with both parties makes me a good interpreter. It’s very important to keep that balance between being professional and having a friendly attitude.
I have so many memorable experiences working with LanguageLoop. I remember one assignment I was working with a financial counsellor and an Arabic speaking lady who was very down and frustrated. She kept losing track of the topic and discussing her personal issues and the counsellor was getting very annoyed. Although it was frustrating, I was very patient and gentle with the lady. I kept interpreting what she said, even the repeated questions and stories. However, by maintaining professionalism and a calm attitude all parties were happy and the professional provided very positive feedback about my services.
Once I was interpreting at a community service with a women’s health professional. At the end of the assignment the non-English speaker thanked the nurse and told her “I feel very comfortable and happy talking to you and I feel that I gained a lot of useful information today”. The nurse turned to me and said, “many clients feel happy and satisfied mainly because of having a very good interpreter, like you Nermine. They think all the credit goes to the health professional, but actually it has a lot to do with the quality of the interpreter, thanks Nermine for being a great interpreter”. It felt wonderful to be appreciated and and be reminded about the important role that we as interpreters play, and the positive impact we can have on non-English speakers.
One of my favourite quotes that always inspires me is by C.S.Lewis “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream”. My favourite activities are arts and crafts, drawing and colouring. I also enjoy reading and going to the gym.
Finally, a few tips for anyone who wants to be an interpreter; always keep your enthusiasm and never lose the passion for interpreting. Maybe you have done a similar job a hundred times before, but remember for this particular client and particular non-English speaker it is your first time, so maintain your professionalism, do your research and be prepared for the job. Be friendly, yet never step over professional boundaries. Be kind and personable, yet never break the rules or the code of conduct. Gain as much knowledge as possible, but never volunteer to share it during any assignment unless asked to do so. Finally, you may be exposed to a lot of private information about people in your community, but never forget, these people trusted you to the extent that they shared their most sensitive issues with you, keep them confidential to remain trustworthy.