Faces in the Crowd – Words From The Wise

Posted on January 12, 2017 under Faces in the Crowd with no comments yet


 “The best part of being a simultaneous interpreter is that you get a world view on things. You come to understand and appreciate that not everyone thinks like you. You become more tolerant.”

Meet Graziella DeLuis.

Graziella ( Gachi as she is commonly known ) was born in Mexico but spent most of her early years in Cuba. She claims that one’s culture is often defined by the food you eat as a child. So while she felt “ Cuban” , her stomach was in Mexico! The family had a nomadic existence for a number of years, living in Mexico, Spain and the United States as her father looked for work.

At the age of 12, she was sent to Switzerland to a private school where she met other students from different parts of the world. “ I learned how to think during my three years in Switzerland,” and she started to learn other languages. By the time she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Miami, she could speak 6 languages fluently. She didn’t care much for the commercialism so prevalent in Miami and, against the wishes of her parents’, she “defected from the United States to Florence” to study at the Academy of Fine Arts.

Her parents weren’t impressed with this decisions as they hoped that she would settle down, get married and have children. Up to this point, her education had been paid for but in what Gachi says is a typical Latin American approach, the money supply was immediately cut off when she headed to Florence. She discovered political activism as she and her friends felt like revolutionaries as they decried dictatorships and politicians. During this five year period, the most important lesson she learned was how to fend for herself. “ Having the money supply cut off was the best thing that could have happened to me, “ she says.

In order to make ends meet and pay for her schooling, she busked in Scandanavia in the summers. While lucrative she confesses that , to this day, she cringes every time she hears “ Guantanamera” as this was one of only three songs she ever sang on a street corner!

She moved to Barcelona to find “ real work” translating literature for a publishing house. While there, she met an interpreter who convinced her to study interpretation. Her father approved of this career move and turned on the tap once more as Gachi studied at the Sorbonne in France for two years.

“ When I did my first professional interpretation job I was terrified. In the beginning of one’s career, it seems impossible to interpret with 100% accuracy.”

Her work has taken her to many parts of the world and she has had the privilege of working with some of the most famous world leaders, including Pope Francis on several occasions. “ Pope Francis is the greatest thing that has happened to the Catholic Church. He speaks plainly from the heart and he knows what’s going on around the world. He has a sense of humour, and he is humble and patient.

The greatest speaker that she has worked with?  “ Hands down, it is President Obama.” She has had the privilege of working at the Beijing and Athens Olympic Games.

And what is the toughest part of the job? “ It is very difficult for an interpreter to do their job well when the speaker is reading at the speed of light who do not want to communicate. You can tell that they are reading from a script and they don’t really care if people are listening. However, my job is to interpret, not judge.”

Taking time off to recharge the batteries is very important. “ An interpreter has to get back their own identity. When I’m out of the booth,  I can say what I think and feel rather than say what other people think and feel.” She loves to cook which she feels is therapeutic.

“ I have enjoyed my life so far and would like to think that I am a happy soul. It has been a privilege to meet so many interesting people.”

Just don’t ask her to translate Guantanamera… in any language!





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