Interpreter feature – Otto Mendonça

interpreters, KUDO Team

Interpreting since 2008
Language combination: Brazilian Portuguese A, English B, Spanish B, French C.
Location: Brasilia, Brazil

At KUDO, we pride ourselves on having an incredibly talented network of professional interpreters. While being a crucial part of every KUDO meeting and event, they are often behind-the-scenes players who are heard and not seen. In this series of blogs, we bring our interpreters to the main stage and highlight them and their stories.

This blog features Otto Mendonça, a conference interpreter with over 13 years of experience. Otto shares what inspired him to become an interpreter, how he got his start at KUDO, and his most exciting experience in the industry thus far.

How did you become an interpreter?

From an early age, I wanted to be a peace broker. I just wished to be a mediator for people from different cultures and languages. I had already been an English teacher (my first job) and a tour guide to the Iguassu Waterfalls when volunteering for a Brazilian non-profit organization. We used to have many visitors from abroad. An informal team was already doing short consecutive interpretation (without notes) for the foreigners. I remember thinking: “I want to do that!”. Sometime after, I did a whispering interpretation job and soon after entered my first booth for a simultaneous interpretation gig! Years later, I realized being an interpreter fell under the category of a mediator between different peoples.

How did you become acquainted with KUDO?

KUDO was co-founded by Ewandro Magalhães. I came across his book on Simultaneous Interpretation in 2007. In 2008 we exchanged emails, and he encouraged me to continue the path of interpretation, however hard it was. In 2009 I took his workshop on Simultaneous Interpretation. I had been in the field for only a year. Since then, we’ve been in touch, and I’ve always followed his career. I’m happy to be part of the fantastic Language Services team he leads at KUDO.

What is your most exciting experience in the industry?

The most exciting experience in the business has always been having first-hand contact with different areas and fields of knowledge. One day I was assigned on the spot to deliver consecutive interpretation at a press conference held by the Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the UNHCR Secretary-General. Interpreting from Portuguese into English proved to be a challenge at the time. But I delivered high-level Portuguese when it came time to interpret from English into Portuguese for the Secretary-General. The head of the ceremony at the Brazilian Foreign Office complimented me afterward, saying he hadn’t heard such Portuguese in a long time. That made me very proud of myself, as I have always wanted to excel in my mother tongue. As the saying goes, in our Language B, we do what we can; in our Language A, we should do whatever we want.

What is your role at KUDO, and how has interpreting prepared you for it?

I’m an interpreter liaison at KUDO; my job is to strengthen our interpreting community by tapping into our interpreters’ incredible creativity and mental prowess.

Being an interpreter makes me one of them. Thus I know by experience what these professionals think and feel, which helps me relate with them and let their voices be heard within KUDO.

Not yet a KUDO Certified Interpreter? Check the eligibility criteria and join today. Already certified? Apply for KUDO Pro status.

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