About the Author
My name is Kim Helman, I grew up in Wokingham and studied Applied Psychology and Sociology at the University of Surrey. I have two teenage step-sons to whom I turn for solutions to maths problems and reaching things which are high up. I married my brother’s best friend and we now live in Finchampstead where we can usually be found discovering new favourite wines, playing board games and reassuring our neurotic cat.
I am a very content, ‘count your blessings’ kind of a person however I have always wondered at people who say they love their job, or are doing training and say that they really enjoy it. I had never felt so utterly motivated by anything work related! Several years ago, I remember reading a quote which said “If you do something you love, you’ll never do a day’s ‘work’ in your life” and feeling inspired to achieve that status but was yet to stumble across something I loved which I could also do to a standard where someone might pay me to do it… Enter BSL!
Back in 2009, my employer ran a 6 week BSL course, one afternoon a week to learn the basics. Did I think “here’s an opportunity to start a new career”? No. What I thought was “that’s got to be better than sitting at my desk, where do I sign up?” However I thoroughly enjoyed the classes and found that I was picking up the language quickly and felt eager to learn more.
Looking for a hobby a year later, I signed up for a Level 1 evening class. I found myself practicing at every opportunity, reading about linguistics and seeking out BSL videos and so on. Having started out seeing this as something to do of an evening, by the end of the course I was determined to really get to grips with this beautiful and fascinating language.
I attended a residential ‘voices off’ course that summer and was fully immersed in the language and Deaf culture. At the end of the weekend I was invited to an assessment day to see if I was ready to start learning Level 3. I was gobsmacked and nervous but excited! I started learning Level 3 in London one Monday a month – this fitted in well with my full time job as I could book annual leave to cover these days. It was around this time that it a thought began pricking the corners of my mind; perhaps this could be the ‘thing that I love’ which would allow me to ‘never do a day’s ‘work’’…
At first, I admit I felt out of my depth and considered every other student to be fluent in comparison to me, but to my surprise I kept up! On chatting at lunch times, it turned out that everyone in the course felt the same; that they were the least skilled in the class. I have noticed this seems to be a constant theme in BSL and interpreting, self confidence and realistic comparisons are elusive!
Each time I passed assessments to reach the next stage I was delighted but there was always an element of surprise; I desperately wanted to progress but couldn’t believe I was really ready. Having Deaf friends and getting involved in the Deaf community certainly helped with this feeling of not being quite worthy – I receive on-going feedback, both positive and negative, from people who have no reason to be anything other than honest, after all, I’m not paying THEM if I get accepted onto another course!
I have just submitted my level 6 BSL Language portfolio. I’m hoping to be accepted on a part one Interpreting course starting in October 2013 – and I am sure that if I’m accepted, I will again feel delight with a sprinkling of amazement!
Throughout my courses I have noticed that it’s quite clear who is attending because work have paid for the course and want them to have a recognised qualification and who is there because they love learning this language. I happily take up every opportunity I can find to attend extra workshops, signed performances and to hang out with my Deaf friends. I am also a prolific networker and through simply asking I have been lucky enough to spend a day at Red Bee Media shadowing the people interpreting for the BBC and meeting various Trainee and Qualified Interpreters for coffee to pick their brains!
terptree have been an amazing support and inspiration throughout my journey so far. I have attended workshops, networking evenings and social events and Victoria has been an encouraging inspiration and friend.
Sometimes, the closer I get to being a qualified interpreter, the more I feel like I’m not ready and should push back the timeline! At the moment, the thought of ever being as good as the qualified interpreters I see is alien to me, I can’t imagine ever being that fluent, confident and accurate! But at the bottom of all of this is a language I love and new friends I’ve made so if that were to be all have I gained from this hard work, that wouldn’t be so bad. Hopefully what I’ve actually gained is all of this plus a new career and the ability to put my hand on my heart and declare to others; “I love my job”.