Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Interpreting Desmond Tutu

Today I interpretted Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu into French, and it was great fun!
You can see him here in a photo taken by my colleague Peter Williams talking with some of the 60 French school children who happened to have organized a visit to the ecumenical centre on the same day as our Nobel Peace Prize visitor.
It was a wonderful event with standing room only in the main hall. All of us would have happily listened to the speaker for hours. You can read the WCC story here.
One of the problems with simultaneous interpretation is that you can't really take notes. But even while trying to render him into French I was deeply moved by the way he spoke about the huge evil that humankind is capable of but the even more overwhelming power for good humanity is capable of.
When I was a student I had a Christian Aid poster of Tutu on my wall which said "I wonder which Bible people are reading when they say religion and politics don't mix". Today he mixed politics, spirituality, history and sheer energy in a way that renewed the motivation of the older as well as the younger generation. It was great.

Photo WCC/Peter Williams