It goes without saying that all translators have a love for languages, for words, for writing, so I am no exception. I started learning English at secondary school and, from that very moment, I felt that I would always have a close-knit relationship with languages. I knew that my mission in life was to be a mediator of cultures, a task that has undoubtedly given me great satisfaction and fulfillment.
Many years have passed since those secondary school days, but I still remember how overjoyed I was to begin my translation studies. Of course, it was a difficult time, with many ups and downs, but in 2001 I finally reached that long-cherished goal. I was very proud of being a translator, but after that priceless moment vanished, I came down to earth and the first question that crossed my mind was: “And now what?” As many of my colleagues, I didn’t know where to find translation work, since I hadn’t received the right training to deal with this situation. After some time, I was gripped by a growing sense of frustration because I couldn’t establish myself as a translator. Fortunately, I was able to find a job at a store in Santa Fe (Argentina) that gave me the possibility to buy my first computer and to stay connected with the virtual world. During that time, I became a member of the Board of Professional Translators of Santa Fe and attended translation events in Rosario and Santa Fe. In 2004, I went to the International Translation Conference celebrated after the Third International Congress of the Spanish Language, where I met a colleague who told me that she was working as a freelance translator for national and international translation agencies. Just imagine my face! It was the first time in my life that I heard the words “translation agency.” Finally I could see a speck of light at the end of the tunnel. After sending lots and lots of CVs and cover letters to translation agencies, the first translation projects started pouring in. At the beginning I was truly happy because I was translating all the time, but then I started feeling a bit tired since I worked non-stop almost 12 hours a day, including the weekends. I couldn’t help feeling bad although I was doing what I had always wanted.
One day I received an email from a very prestigious colleague I had sent my CV to, who drew my attention to all the mistakes I had been making because of my lack of experience and information about fundamental aspects of translation work, such as rates and working conditions. That message was like finding water in the desert. As I was working with Luciana E. Lovatto at that time, I talked to her and we started thinking how we could improve our situation. After planning carefully our next step, in 2007 we set up Iwóka Translation Studio, a small translation company that provides linguistic services from English into Spanish to eco-friendly individuals, groups, organizations and businesses who want to communicate with Spanish-speaking communities effectively and in a culturally sensitive way, so that they can increase their competitive edge in a globalized market while spreading their green ideas and contributing to saving planet Earth.
Another significant milestone in my professional career occurred in 2009, when Aurora Humarán invited me to be one of the founders of the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters (IAPTI). I will always be grateful to her for having included me in this project because it has given me the opportunity to be in contact with professional translators and to share ideas with them about how to defend and protect our profession. Nowadays, I am part of the Board of Directors of this association.
I would like to thank Konstantina for having invited me to share my story with all of you. I really hope you find it interesting! And remember: don’t stop chasing your dreams, discover what you’re passionate about and, most important of all, enjoy life!
Fernando D. Walker is an English-into-Spanish language mediator who specializes in the fields of Renewable Energy and Sustainability. He makes use of his pro-active attitude, motivation and passion to help individuals, groups, organizations and businesses involved in these sectors deliver their messages clearly and consistently throughout the Spanish-speaking countries. You can follow him on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. He also co-writes a translation blog.