English-Portuguese Interpreter Spotlight of the Week: Leida Tolentino

This week’s Interpreter Spotlight focuses on Leida C. Tolentino, a current resident of Santa Barbara and an English to Portuguese Interpreter.

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Damla: Hi Leida, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us. You are a great example of one of the many fantastic Portuguese – English interpreters in our community.

Leida: No problem Damla! It’s my pleasure to share a bit of my story.

Damla: To start off, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Leida: One could say that I am an “interdisciplinarian.” I have a doctorate in cognitive psychology and neuroscience, and I investigate the human faculty of language to peer into the workings of the mind and brain. I am a college lecturer and, if asked, I could hypothetically lecture in many languages; I am multilingual and I was briefly a Portuguese and Spanish instructor. Otherwise, I perform and choreograph — West African dance has been a significant source of healing and personal growth for about a decade.

I was born and raised in the Cape Verde Islands, a small archipelago located about 300 miles off the west coast of Africa and a former Portuguese colony. Many Cape Verdeans are multilingual and I was required to take French followed by English during Middle and High school. I came to the US as a college student and have remained here through graduate school and other pursuits. I eventually married my husband Nick and we currently enjoy life together in sunny California. Today, I speak Cap Verdean, Portuguese, English, French, and Spanish.

Damla: You have a pretty incredible story Leida, one that had you speaking different languages and living all over the world. How did you end up where you are now?

Leida: My academic trajectory was not straightforward though it became predictable once I made the decision to study neuroscience after obtaining a degree in management information systems. I worked as a research assistant in both clinical and pharmaceutical settings, and later I continued to pursue professional goals and personal interests as my husband and I have relocated frequently. At our last location, I conducted research at an educational development nonprofit, while also performing with a local drum and dance ensemble as well as engaging in civic activism. More recently, I accepted a college lecturer position. I feel immense gratitude for the chances I have had in life.

Damla: It’s crazy how one thing leads to another, isn’t it? With such a broad range of specialties and interests, how did you end up where you are now?

Leida: Yes it is! As a multilingual individual (and psycholinguist), I am quite familiar with interpretation — it frequently takes place inside my head! Also, between my husband’s immediate family and mine, there are four different nationalities represented. It is often nice, sometimes necessary, to interpret for others.

More formally, translation activities certainly constituted a part of my foreign language teaching. I also came to serve as a song lyrics translator for my cousin who is a professional singer, recently translating Mayra’s new album from Cape Verdean to English. My current dissertation translation project from English to Portuguese is nearing completion. Curiously, I was referred to Verbalizeit by a former student who, knowing my language background, brought the opportunity to my attention after seeing Ryan Frankel and Kunal Sarda on Shark Tank !”

Damla: We will definitely have to that that student as you’ve been the example of excellence in our interpreter community. What do you do outside of interpretation, or work for that matter?

Leida: I question. I educate. I create. I engage, I speak up, I smile….I suppose I work hard and I play hard(er).”

Damla: Haha, well put Leida. Well thank you so much for taking the time to sit down and share your story with our community. Its been great speaking with you!

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