The ATA Chronicle - January/February 2021 - 17

Janis Palma

business seven years ago.

300 days per year on the

hours didn't change and I

San Antonio,
Texas

My revenue reached an all-

road. Assignments included

had many new opportunities

time high. I enjoyed every

trips to all continents and

and various assignments. I

project, from interpreting at

practically every state. I

was busier in 2020 than any

conferences and courthouses

lived out of a suitcase, ate

year before. Several factors

to translating legal

at restaurants, and slept

helped significantly to

documents with my team.

in hotel rooms. I loved my

achieve this outcome:

lifestyle. All of this ended in

* Having a strong positive

I was on my
way back
home from a week of work
at the U.S. District Court in
Corpus Christi, Texas, when
I heard the news on public
radio: San Antonio was
going into lockdown due to
the pandemic.
I had no idea what that
meant other than having to
do some grocery shopping as
if a hurricane were about to
hit. It was March 20, 2020,
and there was no way for me
to know back then how long
this stay-at-home order was
really going to last or how
my life's priorities would
never again be the same.

Then came the coronavirus.
I was closely following

the spring as conferences

China's situation in January,

were postponed, trips

so I wasn't surprised when

canceled, confinement

a long-time client canceled

orders issued, and my work

their U.S. trip. However, soon

disappeared. I haven't

courthouses in Texas shut

left my place since March

down, businesses suspended

16. A lack of income and

nonessential employee

uncertainty about the

benefits (e.g., Mandarin

future were exacerbated by

classes), and nonprofits cut

a constant stream of email

budgets for recurring projects.

and social media postings

March through May, my

heralding the end of my

revenue was down 80% year-

profession and the triumph

over-year compared to 2019.

of distance interpreting.

I took the opportunity to

long-term relationship with
an interpreting agency.
* Having optimal working
conditions (e.g., no schoolage children at home).
* Keeping up to date with
compliance requirements.
* Having the necessary
technology already in
place at home with
reliable internet.
* Having the support and

I had interpreted remotely

inspiration of colleagues,
who encouraged me to

focus on business generation.

for about two years, which

I made 60 cold calls to my

gave me the peace of mind

ideal interpreting clients over

to set my priorities. I fired

the summer. I gained a new

bad clients, got closer to the

student thanks to the referral

best ones, and discovered

from a current one, both of

a never seen attitude of

whom I enjoy working with. I

collaboration among my

Everyone was too busy

was more available to a client

colleagues worldwide.

finding disposable gloves and

from 2019 and became her

Interpreters have adapted to

face masks or figuring out

trusted partner for more than

the circumstances because

plan to continue offering

how to use remote platforms

just language needs. I also

we're problem solvers. I still

training courses even to

to start a whole new way of

started exercising six times a

miss in-person work but,

smaller groups.

making a safe living away

week, organized four online

having learned new skills

from COVID-19.

socials for ATA's Chinese

and selected quality clients,

Finding isopropyl alcohol
became a quest. That
everyday item on drug store
shelves became as scarce as
work in the courts and regular
income. Overnight I lost track
of my colleagues, my friends.

Language Division, and

I'm confident I'll make it

the courts to call or the

created a marriage enrichment

during and after this crisis.

unemployment office to

study group with friends.

I gave up waiting for

Social Security benefits and
just stay home. I still miss
my friends!

and referred me to new
services. (That's how I
added a third job as a
contact tracer to my 2020
résumé and created a few
workshops for interpreters.)
* Following my business

Instead of " going with the
flow, " I found myself being
more active and proactive,
researching new avenues,
working hard but enjoying

Tony Rosado

Svetlana
Ruth

Chicago, Illinois

Portland, Oregon

My life was
affected in
2020. The

A memorable
year, 2020

answer my calls. I finally
decided to apply for my

expand my field of work

the process, and feeling alive
and grateful. New challenges
are invigorating-what's
there not to like?

Carol Shaw

presented many challenges,

Tianlu
Redmon

loss of family members,

tested my strength, and

Garland, Texas

Houston, Texas

diminished income, stress,

taught me-a medical

and uncertainty were all

interpreter and trainer-how

present. The biggest change,

to stay in business.

On December
31, 2019, I
made my

I'm a Chinese
interpreter,
translator, and teacher.
2019 was the best year
since I started my freelance
www.ata-chronicle.online

however, occurred in my
professional life.
As an interpreter before
the pandemic, I averaged

While many interpreters

first-ever business New Year's

saw a significant decrease

resolution: to make it a point

in hours, I had the opposite

to learn new skills in 2020.

experience. My interpreting

Then COVID-19 happened.
American Translators Association

17


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The ATA Chronicle - January/February 2021

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