Interview: Interpreting at a Medical Conference on Obesity

Cultures Connection selected simultaneous interpreters for a medical event on obesity organized by a pharmaceutical company with well-known expertise in chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes or endocrine diseases. One of the twelve interpreters –two for each of the six languages used at the conference–, Lucie Bransten* from the Czech Republic, answered our questions. The event focused on obesity and took place at the event hall of the Digital Knowledge Village, in Warsaw, Poland. The aim of the scientific exchange between healthcare professionals that involved six different languages was to discuss therapeutic means for obesity management, and comprised fields such as diabetology, gynecology, paediatrics and psychology.

– Since how long have you been an interpreter and what languages do you work with?

– I have been working as a certified court translator since 1997, and as a conference interpreter since 2000, using English (B), German (B) and Russian (C) as my working languages, while Czech is my mother tongue.

– Have you ever been to Poland in order to participate in a conference or was it your first time?

– I have visited Poland on multiple occasions yet this was the first time ever for me to be working with Polish professionals in a business setting and I was excited to see how things turn out. It all went smoothly because the event was well prepared. The organizing team and my colleagues were warm and efficient at the same time.

– What are your main specializations and which one do you like the most?

– As a certified court interpreter I specialize in legal interpreting. However, during my rather longstanding career, I have acquired other fields of expertise such as medicine, economics, EU affairs, automotive, and even radiological security. But the subjects close to my heart have always been visual arts, culture, music, and theater.

– What were the topics discussed during this conference? Did you find them interesting?

The event attempted to unravel the causes of obesity in modern society. The many side effects of this condition were depicted and the conference sought to address this complex issue from the perspective of both prevention and treatment. Being a woman, I was captivated by the contribution of a Ukrainian researcher in Endocrine Gynecology, who discussed obesity management from menarche to menopause.

– Did you receive materials before the assignment to get ready, such as presentations or reference websites? What helped you prepare for this event?

– Receiving supporting documents i.e. presentations and the list of speakers before the event is crucial for us interpreters. Interpreting at scientific events is hugely demanding. Since scientific hypotheses are postulated and new findings are introduced, it will depend on us interpreters –whether the presentation is understood well by the participants or not. I was lucky enough to work with a professional interpreting agency that understands the business needs, therefore they provided me with the right materials and tools.

– How would you describe the atmosphere during the conference?

– The atmosphere was very business-like, yet warm. Everybody was supportive and extremely helpful.

– How was it working on site with other interpreters from other countries during the COVID-19 pandemic and how did the crisis affect the conference?

– The Covid pandemic changed our lives enormously –especially during the first year, where we had no vaccines yet, and our working life was brought to a halt. However, now that protective measures are in place, we can meet and work at physical conferences. All the interpreters from different countries were vaccinated, wore protection masks, and maintained social distance. We were happy to be present at the event and had short conversations. We even posed for some pictures in the interpretation booths.

– What did you like the most about this conference?

– I liked the interpretation equipment provided at the venue, with its high-quality sound. The interpretation booths, consoles, transmitters, receivers and other hardware and software were of top-notch quality, fit for any international event.

– Is there a famous conference or organization you would like to work with, and why?

– As an avid whodunit reader and an expert in legal interpreting, I have always fantasized about working for an international criminal justice or a law-enforcement agency such as Europol**!

*Lucie Bransten lives in Prague. She studied Language & Literature, Conference Interpreting, and Law. Her past interpretation jobs include events in Germany, in the USA, in Belgium, in Italy, in Cyprus, and in Czechia.

**Europol is the European Union’s law enforcement agency, headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands.