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Unchartered Territory (Shirley)

  • Post published:July 3, 2021

Unchartered Terriority (Shirley)

Shirley’s first ever interpretation assignment was 14 years ago working in a booth in Bali together with an experienced interpreter whom she had known from a few years earlier during her time in an English debating club. Thankfully it was an experience which encouraged Shirley to continue as a part-time interpreter whilst working in a humanitarian focused Law Firm, and she had just left a top ranked boutique commercial law firm the month before. Her interpreting work has presented her with many interesting experiences. A few examples include her trip to Baghdad working with a Parliamentary Organization in an Islamic Conference, meeting the Jogjakarta Sultan in his residence, meeting with the US Ambassador in his office and completing a two week assignment on a remote island in Eastern part of Indonesia where electricity was only available for 6 hours a day and there was no clean running water.

Travelling to new places and meeting people from all over the world are just some of the reasons why Shirley loves the profession. She’s also a practicing infrastructure lawyer, a government
relations consultant and a part-time university lecturer. The type of challenges and opportunities presented to her as an interpreter are unlikely to be experienced in her other professions. Her
communication skills and legal knowledge are sometimes very useful in bridging the communication gap between people and providing her clients with a different perspective in some of their projects.

Overseas assignments have taken her to many places for many reasons. Most memorable, in addition to the Baghdad trip, was Shirley’s first foreign assignment to Seoul, South Korea, with the Parliamentary Speaker and members on a G-20 conference. She had first-hand experience with a much better SIS system than what she was used to working with in Indonesia and worked consecutively in high-level bilateral meeting. During that assignment she also met the South
Korean President and attended a dinner function at the Blue House, an unforgettable experience for Shirley only made possible by her skills as a professional interpreter.