I put on football helmet and pads, walked on to the field, and faced off against a line of 300-pound defensive linemen. Can you guess what happened? I’ll give a hint: The team medic used a giant spatula to peel me up off the AstroTurf. I’m strong for my size and age, but I’m just not big enough to tackle guys like that.
Did this really happen? No, not really, but it is a useful metaphor, even if slightly exaggerated. A little more than a year ago, Debbie and I joined the Aitape West Translation Project (AWTP). I didn’t realize it until later, but it was like taking a swimming pool away from a swimmer and sending him off to play pro football. It was the wrong sport for me. Frustration showed up early, but I figured that was due to starting a new career in an unfamiliar land without very much support. I knew I was stubborn enough to stick with it through the adjustment period, and I was determined to fit in to the team, but in the end it just wasn’t the right spot for me. The giant spatula came for me anyway. Debbie and I resigned from AWTP at the end of February.
There’s no end of language work to do in Papua New Guinea, and I picked up another position for now called “Linguistic Technician.” What that means is still a little fuzzy, but it basically means I help translators and translation advisors figure out their language puzzles. Once they understand their languages better, they can translate better. The work is keeping me busy, and I hope to have stories to tell soon. In addition, upper management in Papua New Guinea has also allowed me to look around at possibly joining a different translation project. I’m already aware of one project that has potential for me. Debbie and I are exploring the possibility with them now.
Debbie was assigned only part-time to AWTP. Now that we’ve left the project, she continues to explore what roles she can best fill.
Photo: Public domain photo found on a blog by Cara Meredith.