Working at Uncommon Grounds can be a great launching pad for folks in-between schooling and other life situations. One of our brightest employees, Simone B. has worked at our store on numerous occasions in two different decades. Most recently, she joined us at the Saratoga Springs location after a 9 year stint living in Russia (!) and before heading off to grad school in California.
Simone has always been a world traveler since her family hopped around the globe as she was growing up; from Ft. Collins, CO; to Vancouver, BC; Winchester, MA; to Voorheesville, NY; to Montreal, QC; finally resting in Saratoga Springs, NY to finish high school with a four year bonus round at Skidmore College. A dual citizen of Canada and U.S.A., one can only assume that traveling is coded deeply into her DNA.
Her time in Russia was spent working for the Peace Corps and for Middlebury College in Yaroslavl. This experience prepared her for an incredible opportunity this year where she served as an interpreter for the Tajikistan team at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver! We were excited to hear her reports from the Games and loved getting a glance at the happenings from an insider’s perspective.
Uncommon Grounds (UG): What got you interested in becoming a translator?
Simone B. (SB): I’m actually more interested in interpretation (the spoken side) than translation (the written). Mostly because I like to talk, love languages, and like smoothing out misunderstandings between cultures, especially Russian and English.
UG: A-ha! You left us within the last year, how does one shoot straight to interpreting at the Olympics so quickly?
SB: I left in August of last year to begin my Grad studies at the Monterey Institute for International Studies in Monterey, CA. I am planning on graduating in 2011 with a Masters in Conference Interpreting, to hopefully work at the UN or with NASA or (the holy grail) as an interpreter at various world sporting events. So I mentioned my interest to my professors, and one of them was able to pass my resume on to VANOC (the Vancouver Organizing Committee). They needed Russian speakers, so I was invited to work as a volunteer.
UG: How many hours would you work at a time? Were you “always on”?
SB: I worked anywhere from 5 to 15 hours a day, depending on what was needed. I was indeed ‘always’ on because I was the only interpreter that they had for Tajikistan, the team I was assigned to.
UG: How much of the actual games were you able to catch?
SB: I got to go to Curling (Men’s with Norway’s delightful pants), biathlon (Men’s relay), all the alpine skiing events for men, the closing and opening ceremonies (although I wasn’t really AT them, but rather, behind the scenes).
UG: Please name some other personal highlights from the games…
SB: Personal highlights?? Well Canada beating the US in hockey was pretty sweet, especially as it set off one of the largest, kindest, happiest parties I have ever seen. Getting to carry the Tajik flag during the dress rehearsal of the Opening ceremonies, in front of 60,000 people was also pretty amazing. We got to test out where the athletes were to sit and see the entire show, the night before everyone else in the world did. Some of my friends and I also had a great time at a party for Ghana’s only athlete, the ‘Snow Leopard’ at a local club. And we also took Chinese Taipei’s athlete out clubbing one night. Just being there was a long series of highlights for me.
UG: Sounds truly life-changing! So what’s next for you Simone?
SB: Next??? Hmmm… Well, graduating would be nice
This summer I hope to have an internship with the company that interprets and translates for NASA and the International Space Station in Moscow. That would really set me up for a wonderful future career. We’ll see!!