Language Justice Curriculum

Chapter 8: Dealing with Emotions

Exercises

Welcome + Warm-Up – 15 minutes
Personal Reflection – 30 minutes
Videos – 45 minutes
Close – 10 minutes

Objectives
  • To give participants an opportunity to talk about the role of emotions when interpreting
  • To give participants experience simultaneously interpreting situations which may be emotionally difficult or challenging
  • To provide an opportunity to talk about the importance of taking care of ourselves as interpreters (before, during, and after a gig)
Materials Needed
  • Pen and paper
  • Flip chart
  • Interpretation equipment
  • Previously downloaded/selected YouTube videos
  • Laptop, projector
  • Time-keeping device
  • Optional: calming music, speakers
Directions
Notes for facilitators: Starting these sessions with opening activities is essential, but it is particularly important in this session in orderto help people connect with themselves and their feelings. Depending on the time and size of the group or their willingness to share, we have offered two possibilities for warm-up activities. As a facilitator, be mindful of the delicate balance between people getting in touch with their feelings and the potential for triggering past traumas. Examples of triggering previous traumas include talking about: childhood sexual abuse, physical and emotional abuse, or negative interactions with law enforcement or the judicial system, etc.

WELCOME + WARM-UP – 15 minutes

Step One:

  • Facilitators welcome everyone to the practice session.
  • Facilitators review the goals of the practice session: To discuss the role of emotions when interpreting, to give participants experience simultaneously interpreting situations that may be emotionally difficult or challenging, and to talk about the importance of taking care of ourselves as interpreters (before, during and after a gig).

Step Two:

  • Facilitators ask participants to take a few collective, deep breaths together.
  • For a brief warm-up, facilitators ask each participant to describe how they are currently feeling.
  • For a longer warm-up:
    • Facilitators ask participants to find a partner.
    • Facilitators ask participants to think about a time when they have been overcome with emotion while interpreting.
    • Participants each have 3-5 minutes to share a story with their partner.
    • Facilitators ask participants to rejoin the group.
    • Facilitators ask participants to share highlights if they feel comfortable.

PERSONAL REFLECTION – 30 minutes

To prepare for the next activity, facilitators may say something like: «As interpreters, we’re asked to do our job in very personal, private, or intimate situations. As social justice interpreters, we are constantly interpreting at gatherings that speak about oppression, injustice, marginalization, racism, violence, homophobia, historical trauma, and economic disparities. We are offering you some time for personal reflection to identify difficult interpreting situations and to think about what you could do if faced with those situations in the future.»

Step One:

  • Each participant should have paper or a notebook to write on.
  • Facilitators ask participants to journal or write down thoughts about the following statements. (It may be helpful to have these statements written down on flip chart paper.) For each statement, ask participants to think about what they could do in these situations.
  • Facilitators let the group know that this information is private and does not have to be shared with the group.
  • Participants can use the following format:
    • What makes me laugh:
      • What I can do in this situation:
    •  What upsets me:
      • What I can do in this situation:
    • What makes me cry:
      • What I can do in this situation:
    •  What triggers previous trauma:
      • What I can do in this situation:
  • Facilitators give participants 10-15 minutes to complete the statements
    • If appropriate, facilitators can play calming music.

Step Two:

  • After participants have completed their statements, facilitators may ask participants to share about their experience (without discussing specifics).
  • Facilitators ask participants to share ideas about what they could do to manage those emotions while interpreting.
  • Facilitators write the ideas on the flip chart.

Before starting the next activity, facilitators may say something like: «If you feel yourself getting overcome with emotion while interpreting, there are things you can do (i.e. ask your partner for help, close your eyes, drink water, etc.), but this exercise was also designed to help you understand what jobs you may not want to take. Remember, you can always say no when offered a gig! At the very least, this activity should help you identify jobs that may require more emotional preparation and you may need a more complex de-stressing process or ritual.»

VIDEO – 45 minutes

Notes for facilitators: Interpreting videos is difficult. Keep this in mind and let participants know this may be a challenging activity.
  • Facilitators pick a series of videos showing strong emotion; they can be humorous, sorrowful, or vexing.
  • Facilitators hand out interpretation equipment to each participant.
  • Have participants interpret on the mic for 4-5 minutes each, depending on the size of the group.
  • While participants interpret, the rest of the group listens.
  • After each participant interprets a video, facilitators give the group 1 minute to share feedback.
    • During this minute, facilitators ask the group to name at least one thing the interpreting participant did well and one thing they could improve.

CLOSE – 10 minutes

To close, facilitators ask participants to stand in a circle. Facilitators may want to say something like: «Interpreting can be intense. It is a physical and emotional experience. As interpreters, we often hear and discuss difficult things. We channel messages. These messages, words, and emotions pass through our bodies.»

  • Facilitators ask the following questions to the group, and make sure each participant shares their answers:
    • What can you do to take care of yourself after an emotionally-taxing interpreting gig? How do you release or let go of that energy?
  • Facilitators ask participants to take another set of collective, deep breaths together.
  • Facilitators thank participants for coming to the practice session.