As a child living in Mexico, Jackie Metivier did not understand why her father felt so strongly about her learning to speak fluent English. He believed that immersing her in the American culture would be the best way for her to learn English, so he sent her to Colorado to live with family members for one year.
When she became an adult, Metivier moved to America and worked as a bilingual assistant, using her bilingual skills and degree in Mass Communication from the Universidad Intercontinental of Mexico City, Mexico. Metivier saw a need for translation and interpretation services and embarked on a career as an independent translator and formed Bilingual Communications, Incorporated (Bi-Com) where she is president and owner.
Due to North Carolina’s growing Latino population, Metivier has seen a tremendous need for translation and interpretation services. Thirteen years ago, Metivier mostly accompanied representatives from local companies with international markets, who were selling products and services in Mexico. Since then, Bi-Com has experienced a large shift. Recent requests for translation and interpretation services now come from local companies who want to communicate with their Latino workforce. These workers used to do seasonal agricultural work—now they are bringing their families and staying while working year round, mostly in construction and service occupations.
“Many Hispanics are not familiar with how the culture works—they don’t know the rules,” Metiever explains. Bi-Com seeks to bridge the gap between Hispanics and the American culture. This is accomplished through providing translation and interpretation services to businesses, hospitals, law enforcement agencies, law firms, political candidates, and the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The language and cultural barriers among Spanish and English speaking citizens, creates a demand for qualified translators and interpreters in North Carolina. However, being bilingual does not mean one can translate or interpret. An effective interpreter puts personal feelings aside and interprets only what is being said. An interpreter or translator must have a thorough understanding of both languages, possess a nearly perfect use of grammar, and earn a four-year degree.
Durham Technical Community College recently introduced a new 18 credit hour certification program for Community Spanish Facilitators. This course specializes in facilitating communication between Spanish speaking individuals and community agency settings.
Metivier, like her father, seeks to raise awareness of the importance of being bilingual and using these language skills. She instills this in her children and helps other kids through the NC Society for Hispanic Professionals. Metivier is also president of the Carolina Association of Translator and Interpreters (CATI). CATI consists of 190 members from North Carolina and South Carolina representing 32 languages. Metivier’s family tradition continues.
Reprinted from Career Choices of North Carolina 2004-2005