#ValuableDiversity (Interview Series) – ep. 13 – Beyond translated words
Introducing you to interesting people around the world
Meet Dominika Weston
Recruiter, Language and Diversity Enthusiast (Poland)
Translator or interpreter? Is there a difference?
Sure there is. But what if we found out what the exact differentiation is from a golden-hearted woman, who is an advocate for smiles and kindness in disguise?
Well, I just briefly described my guest for today. But I will let you know her better from the below interview.
1. Hi Dominika, please tell us a bit about yourself, for the people you never interacted with.
I was born and raised in Warsaw, Poland. This is also where I went to school and got my Master’s degree in Finance, with major in Risk Management. If I stayed in Poland and never moved to USA, I would have probably been working in a bank. I am so glad that life threw me on the other side of the globe, just for this reason. I love what I do for a living, as I work with people whom I learn from daily. I am an extrovert who thrives on challenges and I speak my mind.
” I am responsible for my emotions and have control over my reactions“
When I think of my years back in Warsaw, I remember one particular thing: having such a hard time learning English in high school and barely passing my finals, in English specifically. Back then, I never thought this language would be actually used as primary one for me later in my life. What a coincidence! Well, life is certainly full of them… So many valuable lessons we receive in great abundance from the Universe… Each challenge we are put against, shapes us into who we become. I have so many I can think of, but the ones that are close to my heart are somewhat linguistically related and communication driven.
2. Let’s approach the interpreter position of yours. What was your greatest challenge ever. Can you frame it in a funny way?
Yes, I had several opportunities in the past that allowed me to work in a capacity of not only an interpreter, but also a translator. Anyone who knows a bit about the linguistic industry also knows the differences between these two professions and how challenging each one can be. Just because one can speak more than one language, does not automatically mean one can also interpret or translate. It takes practice, cognitive abilities and lots of learning. I could just close my eyes and talk to you about the languages, cultural aspects and communication between people for hours… But, unfortunately, we do not have so much time to cover it all.
I will share one thing, though, that I think is very important to know. For any of you who would like to know the differences between the scope of work of a translator versus interpreter, here is the link to the article I wrote that explains it well:https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/so-you-think-need-translator-dominika-weston-mfin/
Going back to the profession itself… Well, I did some translations of the brochures for the Union meetings, years back. I was also fortunate enough to be trained through “Bridging the Gap” program for interpreters and several cultural sensitivity trainings, as well as communication seminars that were (and still are) a foundation for me, in the interactions with people on daily basis in the work I do. I could not and would not be effective in my work with Interpreters and Translators if I did not have such background. I am also myself an ESL (English as Second Language) speaker and this helps me with better approach on the global arena.
See, how far I drifted away from the question, you have asked? Let’s go back to the challenges. I can say, that they are presented to me every day. If it is not in the form of communication barrier – where you need to adjust your own communication style to match the audience that is so culturally different, then it is a challenge of removing your emotions from the work you do.
I will give you an example here: when you are interpreting as a professional for a family who is facing a loss of a loved one due to illness, such as cancer, for example, you really have to keep your composure as you are there to convey the message. It gets tough as situations like that are very emotional for any human being. You have to be accurate in your interpretation, you cannot cry and have to keep calm. You must fully adhere to the Code of Conduct for interpreters. That is a challenge you need to overcome inside your heart. Leaving emotions at the door is what interpreters have to do.
Andrada, I just thought… You asked for a funny story and I gave you a sad one instead. But I have a quick funny one to share as well from the booth interpreting: that moment when you simply forget to flip the switch when it is your turn to interpret and you have to then catch up with the rest.
3. That’s OK! Experiences are always good as lessons, regardless of their nature – sad or funny. But this takes me to something else. Please tell us how do you handle everyday challenges, in general. Do you smile at them? And how do you overcome your blue moments?
Challenges to me are like daily lessons that help us grow and shape us into becoming who we need to be. I embrace them now, but I used to get upset with many small things that were not the way I would imagine them to be. It took some true soul searching, self-assessment and certain circumstances that made me realize what is truly important and has value for me. I am responsible for my emotions and have control over my reactions, why not using it to my advantage?
” Leaving emotions at the door is what interpreters have to do“
>I wake up every day and take time to thank for being given the ability to see the world for one more day. I learned from the past, I hope for the future, but I need to live in the present moment. I smile a lot as I know that smiles make people happy and smile is something I can generously offer to others. Smiles multiply instantly and cannot ever be taken away from anyone.
Blue moments? I like rain, as it is my best remedy to anything. And books! I love reading!
4. Let me ask you this: what was the most difficult situation you had to put up as parent?
I have to say I am lucky enough and I do not have many moments I can recall that would be concerning for me as a parent. I try to raise my children allowing them to make decisions and learn what this world is about.
One thing I can recall though is the day when we took a trip to Europe and one of my kids asked me why people were staring at them. That day, I had the longest conversation ever explaining why this world is not color blind and what is the best way to approach differences people may not be familiar with. I cried tears of sorrow that day…
5. In our call, we discussed about the adversities you and your family face everyday. What would you change, if you could?
I would like the world to actually become color blind. There is so much hate all over the world, with racism being in the background. I cannot comprehend to this day why people continue to define the value of a person by the color of their skin, culture or even religion?
Why people pass judgement about others they know nothing about? I would love to see equality! I hope my kids get to live in equality driven world, one day…
” Living life to the fullest means to cry, to laugh, to fail, to get bruised“
If we put aside the differences among us and focus on the commonalities, there is much easier to communicate and find a common ground. Although we cannot eliminate hate among people, we can surely strive to limit its impact, especially on our children.
My message is: let’s try to love more without expecting anything in return, let’s be compassionate in our day to day interactions and more understanding of others. Let’s embrace differences around us and listen to understand, not to respond or defend.
6. Ok, so we’re talking about serious issues here. Tell us about the way you felt when you first landed in the USA.
That was a long time ago… Close to 17 or 18 years. I did not see any issues back then; it all looked like a dream come true to me. A new country, new culture to explore, so much diversity around, so many opportunities everywhere and many challenges to take upon. I was young, inexperienced and did not know any better. My American Dream I imagined back then turned out to be far from reality.
If I landed in USA now, with all knowledge and experience I have, I most likely would not decide to stay here and settle down. People ask me if I have regrets and I tell them that they are not regrets, but experiences that shaped me into who I am now.
Our dreams can only take us as far as we are willing to stretch ourselves, I say. We need to learn how to trust ourselves when it is time to jump.
7. In the means of diversity, what did that mean to you? And how do you feel about diversity, in general?
Diversity is a long journey and, like any journey I can think of, requires careful navigation system. Unfortunately, our navigation system requires adjustments as it does not work well. Coming to USA and raising kids that are biracial made me realize how many people chose to wear masks around us… How often we preach about acceptance, but continue to point fingers at anything that is different or unknown to us. We are scared of the unknown. We do not face fears with courage.
What is essential in my eyes, is the empathy. We have to start focusing more on self awareness and looking onto our souls. We have to learn how to be courageous, even if it means getting hurt. Living life to the fullest means to cry, to laugh, to fail, to get bruised. We just have to make sure we know the best healing process that works for us.
8. What is the most important advice you’re giving your kids? Is it related to previous question? Or is it something else?
I tell my kids to be kind to people and give second chances. I encourage them to live every moment as we create memories every day in our lives and to express gratitude. We have each other and this makes us the richest human beings we can ever be! Love can conquer the world! I want my kids to laugh a lot, as laughter is the best remedy to anything.
9. Now, I think it’s time we broke the code and let people know about our future collaboration, shall we? Please tell everyone about our new, sensitive adventure, coming soon.
Sure, I will be honored to collaborate with you Andrada on this massive undertake! I remember when we first got on the call, months ago, and we talked about many challenges people go through when they adjust to a new place and face change. I understand it firsthand based on my life journey, moving from one continent to another and having to learn everything all over again.
” Our dreams can only take us as far as we are willing to stretch ourselves“
An idea for the series that highlights the life of immigrants in USA is a brilliant undertake. We can shed some light on the challenges, reality they face, decisions they have to make and approach that works for many of them. Perhaps, this can help others to understand how traumatic and life-changing it is for families who leave their countries and all they have worked for to come to USA, based on variety of reasons.
10. I think this will be challenging, under all aspects. What would you like to tell the people that have just read #9?
To be open minded, refrain from any judgement and most of all to be kind. Each story is very different, very personal and has its own circumstances that dictate the actions. You may not even fully understand them unless you live it. Leaving what you love behind and moving elsewhere is the toughest decisions one has to make in life.
” Smiles multiply instantly“
I trust that learning about others created a bond and this world – with so much diversity around – needs more glue to hold it all together. We, people, are the glue and it is up to us how we make it as united as we can.
11. As a conclusion, please let us know: if you were all alone, wandering on a stormy sea, knowing that you could send a message in a bottle to your kids and loved ones, but had only one shot, what would that be?
Depending on whether I would have one or more pieces of paper to write and fit in a bottle… I would love to describe to them my whole life journey, so they can better understand the choices I have made and the effect they had on them.
I would write a letter asking them to make memories that last a lifetime, to travel more – as foreign cultures make our lives richer and to always be kind to people, as kindness attracts a great amount of good energy.
” I would tell them that they are the air that I breathe, they are my world and I cannot imagine life without them“
I would finish the letter with a reminder of the importance of smiling at life, regardless of what it brings us, and acceptance to keep peace in their hearts.***
After such answers, all that is left for me to tell you is to follow us in the upcoming period, to find out more about the project we’ll be co-hosting. We will definitely have a unique approach on the immigrants matter.
Oh, and befriend Dominika. You will simply love her!
*The photos used in this article were provided by the rightful owner, with clear consent. Using them without prior agreement, may become subject of the copyright law. All rights reserved to Dominika Weston*
Dominika Weston can be reached via her LinkedIn profile: