Legal center provides a new perspective on translation for Spanish major
Focusing on translation opportunities, Penelophe Pintor ’23, a Spanish major at The College of Wooster, found a position at a legal center in Chicago. The APEX Fellow primarily communicated with children and adolescents, especially those who entered the country and required legal help in a language they were comfortable with. At the Children’s Legal Center, Pintor’s responsibilities also consisted of translating client documents, interpreting client meetings, assisting intake events, and managing general clerical tasks.
“I was the first person the clients interacted with, and I made them feel comfortable enough to share their situations without feeling intimidated or judged. Seeing the relief they felt once they were able to seek help by speaking to someone who looks like them and speaks the same language motivated me throughout my time in the office.”
—Penelophe Pintor ’23
Why was the position a good fit for you?
“I learned about this opportunity through my friend from elementary school who used to intern at the Children’s Legal Center. She had shared a post on Instagram that said they were looking for Spanish translators. I asked her for more information about the opportunity and the law clerk, which led to me getting an interview. I wanted to intern at a law firm or a hospital since I want to continue translation as a career. This was a good fit for me because they focused on children and adolescents, which is the population that faces some of the most traumatic experiences when entering the country. By interning at this office, I could make a difference not only in a child’s life but in the community. This was an opportunity that I knew I would love because of the connections I would be able to make not only with my peers, but with the clients as well.”
What were some of the things you did each day?
“I had the opportunity to be hands-on throughout my internship. I did client intakes, where I took down the client’s personal information. This is where the clients explained what kind of legal help they were seeking. Some came in looking for asylum or to gain citizenship in the U.S. This was my favorite part because I was able to meet clients and listen to their situations. Some of the experiences that clients would share were traumatic. They confided in me and shared every detail, which let me better understand what was going on. I translated their intake packets for the lawyers to read over and see what kind of case they would be able to build. I was the first person the clients interacted with, and I made them feel comfortable enough to share their situations without feeling intimidated or judged. Seeing the relief they felt once they were able to seek help by speaking to someone who looks like them and speaks the same language motivated me throughout my time in the office.”
Who was your fellowship mentor and how did they help you to succeed in this position?
“Grit Herzmann, associate professor of psychology, gave me thoughtful feedback and advice throughout the summer. She helped me find different ways to handle the emotions that came along with each case. She helped me process everything I learned, while also allowing me to think of the ways I would be able to apply the things I learned to other aspects of my life, such as personal growth and my career. I cannot thank her enough for her guidance and her patience throughout this internship.”
What are some skills you’ve learned that you see yourself carrying forward in your career?
“This opportunity allowed me to expand my communication skills. This was a job where I needed to be outgoing, but also empathetic and gentle. Learning how to communicate with clients without triggering them or causing them to feel uncomfortable when speaking about their experiences let me learn new ways of starting conversations and listening for certain cues that helped me recognize when to stop going into detail about a certain topic.”
How has the internship helped you to see what’s next for you?
“This internship solidified my future career goals. I want to continue translation/interpretation within the legal field. It allowed me to see that I have the necessary skills to work in this kind of environment and that I really enjoy working in the legal sector.”
Posted in Experiential Learning on August 15, 2022.
Related Areas of Study
Language, histories, literature, and cultures of Spanish-speaking countriesMajor Minor