Teresa is Connecting the World Through Translation Even During a Pandemic

Even with her intepretation work going completely digital, Teresa has been finding her new normal.

Matt Grech

Matt Grech

Content Marketing ManagerSmartling

As New York City begins its reopening, one can't help but think about how life will return to "normal," or what that normal might look like. One things for sure, nowhere is going back to normal anytime soon. And it's been so fascinating to hear from our translators around the world how their own normal has shifted.

It's also incredibly uplifting to see how quickly we've adjusted and even embraced an entirely new lifestyle.

With a large portion of her work, interpretation, shifting completely digital, Teresa had to react quickly. And so did Germany. Even Berlin felt the massive shockwave, and it was great to hear from Teresa about how she managed to stay strong and find her new normal!


Matt: What kind of content do you have lined up for March?

Teresa: I've been working with some of my favorite clients to develop and translate marketing content, I love their products so it’s a lot of fun to help talk about it!

Matt: That's great! Of course, I have a love for marketing content as well. But beyond that, have you been translating a lot of content around COVID-19?

Teresa: When this all started at the beginning of March, yes. I was working with a client from the tourism sector and we needed to inform their travelers about possible changes in regards to COVID-19.

Everything had to happen quickly and a lot of content had to be changed hourly almost, since things were moving so quickly. It was a very intense time, everybody was nervous, we didn't know how to treat this new virus that was suddenly all over the place.

Matt: I know you mostly translate for hospitality and eCommerce brands. These are two industries impacted the most, in opposite ways. Have you seen any change in your  work with these brands?

Teresa: Yes, some completely froze their budget for localization. Especially in the tourism sector. Business is slower at the moment, for sure.

But I am thankful to have some of my clients who are still localizing content and are not affected by it as much, especially my eCommerce clients. 

Matt: That makes sense, everyone reacted so quickly. You're also really involved in interpretation, has your work as an interpreter changed at all? Are you doing any interpreting over the phone or internet?

Teresa: All direct/person to person interpreting work is paused. My agency offers telephone interpreting to their clients, which I do sometimes.

But to be honest, it is not the same. The connection can be bad or interrupted, you can't read the client's mouth while he talks and you need to be very concentrated to not make any mistakes.

It is doable, but I will be so happy to be able to drive to the clients again and be there in person.

Matt: Are you noticing any changes in the demand for translation? Are some brands or industries requesting less, and others requesting more?

Teresa: Exactly, hospitality demand for translation is going down. No question. They have other problems right now than localizing their content into other languages (if it is not about Covid-19).

Since this is my specialty, tourism and hospitality, I am thankful for every client at the moment. The other clients are also more careful with spending money but not affected that much. Good for me as well. 

Matt: You have so much experience working with different brands in different industries, so I'm curious to ask. How do you think brands should react and adjust to this situation?

Teresa: I don't blame them, if they are more careful in spending money at the moment. This is a situation unknown for all of us.

But I think, it is good not to panic and freeze all the plans, but rather try to get funding from the state to survive those difficult months we are in right now.

I am aware that this is not possible for every country but Germany has been quite generous with granting financial help to small businesses and freelancers, without a lot of bureaucratic difficulties. But of course, we are many...and not everyone is the lucky one to be given this help.

Matt: Do you think we will continue to see a shift in the demand for translation as life goes on?

Teresa: I think there are businesses and industries that are way more affected than us. I hope as soon as the situation calms down a bit and shops/businesses open again, the demand for localization will grow again.

We live in a world that needs to be connected, we rely on getting heard globally and therefore we need translators to make this happen and take away the language barrier.

Matt: Since you already have experience working from your home, thanks to tools like Smartling, what kind of routine or process do you have for staying productive?

Teresa: Smartling is my favourite translation tool. I love working with it, all content is easy to access, communication with clients is easy, it is user-friendly and work just flows. I work a lot with Smartling and would not want to change it for any other software. 

Matt: How has your daily life changed? Are children and family members home? Has your routine changed?

Teresa: Oh yes, big time. I do yoga at home in the living room with a live stream from my favourite studio instead of going there. I cook much more instead of eating out, I see my friends only on Facetime for virtual dinners or coffee chats.

It is tough but absolutely doable. My dog gets all my attention and he loves it.

I read more and appreciate the daily dog walks so much more than before. I there is anything positive about this whole crisis, I would describe it like this: I notice a shift from hedonism to mindfulness around me, a communal feeling around the world, since we are all experiencing the same. 

Matt: It's great that you're staying busy and active! But for quiet time, is there anything special you're doing to stay positive, calm and focused during this time?

Teresa: Taking some time for myself. And spoiling myself with little treats, like good healthy food, good coffee. But also enjoying to be home and not feeling guilty about binge-watching sometimes, or working in pyjamas once a week.

And of course, now is such a great time to learn! Are there hobbies or skills are you picking up to stay busy?

Teresa: I love Yoga and try to do it from home as much as I can. Keeps me flexible and happy. Not so many new hobbies, it is enough to scroll through Instagram and see everyone else doing that. I am quite busy with my dog as well. But baking banana bread seems to be the thing right now. This I might as well try, it is my favourite cake!

Matt: Any personal stories you would like to share, about yourself, your family, or your community?

Teresa: Pretty much that: If I could take anything with me from this crisis, it is the warmth of the people, to support one another, to care about and for each other, be it to support the local coffee shop or favourite restaurant, the older neighbour, your own friends or the family member who got most affected by this crisis, instead of being too busy or distracted for it.

Thanks Teresa!