Interviewed by Valeriya Yermishova
When Anna Stout was 19 years old, she started a non-profit called Foundation for Cultural Exchange, which offered American college students cultural exchange trips to El Salvador and academic scholarships to Salvadoran students. Almost eleven years later, the organization is still a major part of her life. She currently works as a Spanish>English certified translator and state certified interpreter and teaches Translation and Interpreting courses at Colorado Mesa University and the Community College of Aurora. Last year, she published a book called El Salvador: Lessons on Love and Resilience about the path the non-profit has taken her on and all the bumps and successes along the way. You can find out more about her work here: http://www.fceelsalvador.org/
1) What made you want to start the Foundation for Cultural Exchange?
When I returned from my first trip to El Salvador, I felt a genuine void in my heart. Going back to “life as I knew it” was difficult and I—along with a number of my travel companions from that first trip—wanted to do something to maintain the connection with this community that had so generously and selflessly welcomed us into their homes. We wanted to ensure that there was an organization in place to bring structure and continuity to the sister city relationship between the communities of El Espino, Cuscatlán, El Salvador and Grand Junction, Colorado.
2) Who were your mentors when you started out in the translation and interpreting field?
One of my college professors, Dr. Tom Acker, was instrumental in pushing me out of the college nest and getting me started as a “real” interpreter for local nonprofits. After that, the two managing interpreters in the judicial districts where I worked as a new interpreter, Jeannette Finlayson and Maria Deleo, took me under their wings and taught me the ropes of court interpreting. I also met Tony Rosado at the ATA conference in Denver in 2010 and I credit him with bringing me into the profession beyond my home districts and making me feel part of something much bigger. He gave me the confidence to submit proposals to regional and national conferences, and later run for the CAPI board.
3) Our May monthly meeting is dedicated to translators who interpret and interpreters who translate: linguists who, despite the pressure to specialize, ended up doing both and enjoying every minute of it. Do you consider yourself a translator or an interpreter? Does one enrich the other?
I consider myself as much a translator as an interpreter, though I definitely started out as an interpreter. There is a very symbiotic relationship between the two fields. I have found that translating has taught me a lot about terminology, research, and the proper use of both languages, which helps me to be a better interpreter. On the other hand, interpreting has taught me on-your-feet problem-solving strategies and given me better language intuition, which makes me a better translator. So I think both skills are interrelated and enrich each other.
4) Congratulations on the recent publication of your book, El Salvador:Lessons on Love and Resilience. What do you envision yourself doing in five years?
Thank you so much. It was a very special achievement for me. I have no idea what the next five years will bring, but I will definitely still be active in the language industry, traveling at every chance I get, and hopefully watching my kiddos in El Salvador doing great things. Maybe I’ll be working on another book, or starting a new organization. Who knows? But I’ll undoubtedly be keeping busy!