Meet Dan, Rockstar Vietnamese Interpreter
Welcome to our Linguist Limelight series!
Each month, we feature one of our amazing interpreters, highlighting their unique skills and talents and sharing some of their personal stories and insights. With interpreters in over 150 countries, our Linguist Limelight series is dedicated to showcasing the variety of cultural and linguistic backgrounds, as well as the beautiful kaleidoscope of human experiences, that make up Jeenie’s uniquely amazing interpreter community.
Through this series, we hope to help users of interpreting services see the wonderful humans behind the headset, and to inspire other talented bilinguals to consider a rewarding career in interpretation!
Hear It From Dan
Dan is a Vietnamese interpreter with 15 years of experience in the industry! He holds a number of degrees and industry certifications, including Bachelor’s, PhD, CertTESOL, DipTESOL, HIPAA, 20-hour medical interpreting course, KUDO certificate, and many more OPI/VRI certificates.
Dan took the time to share with us some of his personal interests, experiences as a Vietnamese interpreter, and excellent advice for aspiring interpreters!
Tell us about your first experience as a professional Vietnamese interpreter.
London, 2008. My first ever assignment was a court hearing. The client with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) was clearly nervous, the legal counsel was also nervous, and the judge definitely knew I was terrified. But all went well. We all start from somewhere, and I’m thankful today for that first scary step.
What do you find the most rewarding part of being a Vietnamese interpreter?
Growth and surprises. Like any service, interpreters get paid for being helpful, contributing some convenience or providing solutions to our communities. However, every interpreting encounter is unique. Each one challenges me to grow in patience, to maintain my commitment to professionalism, and to expect surprises from people’s life circumstances from everywhere on planet earth.
Can you share a story where you felt you really made a difference when interpreting?
A difference can be made when you least expect it. There was once a patient who experienced stroke symptoms arriving at an Emergency Room and could not indicate verbally which language he spoke. Nurses got me on the line and I tried at least four Asian languages to determine that he needed a Korean interpreter, instead of my language pair (English to Vietnamese). Best to be prepared for anything! We never know when we actually make a difference in someone’s life.
What advice do you have for someone interested in becoming an interpreter?
Be helpful while we can be. To be honest, simply show up on time, execute your duty faithfully and humbly, and pay attention to people’s feedback. We all are far from being perfect or omniscient, so give yourself the grace and the space to learn and grow. Then, seek to do the same for others.
How do you like to spend your time when not interpreting?
I sing and play a lot of music. I struggle to be consistent with an exercise and workout routine. When possible, I travel internationally and hike in quiet and tranquil natural spaces.
What’s one life lesson you’ve learned from your experience as a Vietnamese interpreter?
Integrity is costly; not everyone can afford it. So we should choose our words carefully.
What qualities do you think make someone a great interpreter?
Great attention to detail, and the patience and sensitivity to interpret everything, especially the difficult conversations.
What’s your favorite quote?
With regards to customer service, the Vietnamese phrase “Vui lòng khách đến, vừa lòng khách đi” (Let the customers be pleased, as to come and so to leave). If this is too much of an ideal, you should give your best anyway.
Tell us one surprising fact about you!
A few years ago, I got a callback for a role in a British movie that was different from the role I initially auditioned for. I decided not to take the opportunity. That movie went on and won a famous international accolade.
How many languages do you speak? How did you learn them?
I speak and write fluently in only two languages: English and Vietnamese. However, I have attempted to learn at least nine more, simply because of educational needs and curiosity. I used books, the Internet, international friends, and (forget not) the power of international movies.
- Ancient Greek
- Ancient Hebrew
- British Sign Language
Dedicated to Quality
Jeenie is dedicated to providing the highest quality interpreting services in the industry. By screening interpreters with a rigorous, proprietary skills assessment, paying them for their valuable skills at the highest ends of market rates, and encouraging professional development through educational modules and materials, we honor their important contributions to our communities and society at large.
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