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Training as interpreter amidst a global pandemic

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I was already resigned to not see much of the sunshine this year, not because my clairvoyance detected the challenging year that the entire world had ahead, but because I decided to join the Translator Training Program and I knew that it was going to demand all my time and energy.  

But before going into the experience of training as an interpreter through an online platform, I need to take a moment to praise the whole faculty and staff of RYI for accomplishing something that even institutions with far greater budgets struggled to accomplish: take a timely decision and swap the whole learning from the physical classrooms to the virtual realm in two weeks, on the spring break of the semester. My admiration goes to all of them, who were ready to learn a new system and probably worked countless of extra hours in the adaptation. And this appreciation only increases every time I hear stories from other institutions.  

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The online learning for me means to miss the monastery, the institute, the spontaneous visits of Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche to our classes, and the daily brief encounters with all the wonderful people of RYI that are not part of my current classes.  

It is to constantly miss the delicious and convenient lunches at Utpala Cafe, while sometimes being in class trying to not forget the pot cooking on the stove.  

It is the need of getting glasses for the screen, drops for the dry eyes, and an occasional aspirin. I know that for people suffering migraine things have been much more complicated.  

It is to get to know a tiny bit of the homes of all my teachers and classmates, and to occasionally hear the spouses, children and even neighbors of my language partners in the background.  

It is the momentarily interruption of a class whenever a cat or dog appears on the screen and everybody just goes “how cute!” 

It means to be able to review a challenging class a second time. 

It means to never be late to class because I couldn’t find my keys at home. (That used to happen to me a lot). 

It means to have to scan my calligraphy homework and get my feedback on a screen-shared session with my professor. 

For the translation classes, it is Maria sharing an image of Manjushri on her screen whenever we are chanting his praise before class. 

It has also meant the advantage of having Ani-la frontal on the screen, instead of next to me, when I try to translate for her, so whenever she sees that I’m struggling to understand what she said, she tries to help me with gestures, sometimes turning few moments of the class into a Charade game and making us all feel at ease. 

I cannot express how grateful I am for having the opportunity of participating in this program, for being able to be so immersed in Tibetan language from a completely different part of the world, and for being every day in contact with the delightful RYI community.  

I definitely owe you all a part of my sanity! 

~ Tatiana Tagle 

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