This Week’s Interpreter Spotlight on Islam Mohamed Elsadek, a native Egyptian living in Kuwait.
Damla: Hi Islam, thanks so much for joining us today. We are excited to show our community one of the best examples of our Arabic-English interpreters.
Islam: Thanks for the opportunity Damla!
Damla: Great! Could you start by telling us a bit about who you are?
Islam: My name is Islam Elsadek, and I am a VerbalizIt Arabic interpreter. I am Egyptian and I graduated from the Department of English Language and Literature from Zagazig University, Egypt. I currently live and work in Kuwait as an interpreter and as an occupational Analyst for Kuwait Occupational standards, Assessment and Certification Center. For the most part I work between English and Arabic, but I also speak a little Bengali. I have been privileged to work with the Multi-national Forces in Iraq as an interpreter. I interpreted with local tribe leaders, with key persons ,and helped ease tensions between parties involved.
Damla: So how did you end up where you are now?
Islam: I have always been fascinated by the process of interpretation as it involved numerous real-time challenges, from the level of the topic concerned, to cultural references, to the choice of appropriate diction, with the end goal of producing the best end-result . When I came across VerbalizeIt, I decided to go through the interpretation test. It was extensive and mentally exhausting because it examines you from the simplest sentences to the most complex ones. This reassured me of that VerbalizeIt had high standards, and it was an honor to be accepted into the VerbalizeIt community.
Damla: How did you end up interested in interpreting?
Islam: Well, I started to be interested in interpretation when I was still studying English at my university. To practice the language, some of my colleagues and I used to organize weekend-based trips to famous Egyptian monuments where we expected to interact with foreign tourists in English. Once in Tahir Museum, a police sergeant asked us to explain to three American boys that the use of flash-operated cameras was not allowed inside the museum. This was my first interpretation and since then I loved it and became an interpreter.
Damla: That seems like the perfect chain of events, and we are glad you ended up working with us. Do you have a favorite personal anecdote about your time interpreting?
Islam: I was on a foot patrol with one of the British military transition teams (MITT) deployed in Basra city in Iraq back in 2008. The main aim of the patrol was to detect any suspicious movements outside the MITT camp. At that point in time, it was the Muslim Eid Al fitr ,which comes right after fasting the holy month of Ramadan,and in which Muslims celebrate the breaking of their fast to God. In all of the Arabian countries, children show celebrate the occasion by playing with fireworks and fake guns. As we were advancing and entering one of the nearby residential areas, we started to hear sounds of bullet shooting.
All of a sudden, one of the soldiers began shouting and took the shooting position. He saw a bunch of boys directing their guns to him. I felt a disaster was about to happen if didn’t act immediately. So, I started yelling “No! No! Stop! Don’t do it! They’re just kids!” When we approached boys,we could clearly see they were only playing with fake toys. After the incident, I shared with the team some of the Arabian customs and traditions and how to deal with them without causing any offense to others. It was such a dreadful experience to think something tragic could have happened, but this is one example where breaking down language barriers literally saved lives. The British Service Broadcasting Service did a story on my unit and you can see me interpreting on the ground in it.
Damla: That is an incredible story Islam, thank you so much for sharing. As we wrap up, how about sharing another fun aspect of yourself with us. What is your favorite personal random fact?
Islam: Well, I am into Arabic poetry. I write classical Arabic poems and I regularly publish them on Facebook. On top of that, I am a fan of technology, especially mobile phones related stories and events.
Damla: And a poet on top of it all! It is great to add an artist to our ranks. Thank you again for sharing Islam!
Islam: Thank you Damla, talk to you soon!