My experiences of shadowing a medical interpreter at the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and later volunteering as a medical interpreter at Loudoun County Free Clinic were complementary, and indeed provided very valuable experiences. I had the chance to experience one type of solution to helping low-income populations, and observe its functionality by looking at each of the clinic’s social dynamics.
“Gallbladder…gallbladder…what’s the Spanish word for gallbladder…” I wracked my brains, but somehow it seemed the word “gallbladder” had never appeared on a single one of my vocabulary flashcards from high school. Nor had I come across it in the great works of Cervantes, or Jorge Luis Borges, or Gabriel Garcia Marquez, or any other famous Hispanic writer I could think of. And it wasn’t like gallbladders had been a key element of discussion in any of my Hispanic Studies seminars. Go figure, right? Turns out the word for gallbladder in Spanish is “vesícula biliar.” Vesícula biliar?! I groaned when I saw that one. It was going to be a mouthful to remember. Embarrassingly, only a whole three weeks later after the incident did it occur to me, completely out of the blue, the logic behind this term—“vesícula,” meaning “vesicle,” and “biliar,” indicating “for bile.” Ah. Absolutely brilliant. I won’t be forgetting that one any time soon.
A quick recap—for several days earlier this summer, I had the chance to shadow Mrs. Paulina Carrión, who works as a medical interpreter at a family planning clinic at the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). As I said in my previous post, I expected to learn about what a medical interpreter does, examine the overall social dynamic of the clinic, and gain an understanding of how Hispanic identity plays a role in the system. There are three good examples I can think of regarding the kinds of things I noticed that involve all or some of those themes:
For several days earlier in the summer, I had the opportunity to shadow and interview Mrs. Paulina Carrión, who is a medical interpreter at the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). The VDH is primarily a family planning clinic that caters to people of a low-income status, many of whom don’t speak English. Mrs. Carrión is originally from Ecuador, but has lived in various parts of the United States for the past ten years. In this first half of my project, I expected to learn about what a medical interpreter does, examine the overall social dynamic of the clinic, and gain an understanding of how Hispanic identity plays a role in the system.