Newsletter July 2007
EU Council Presidency
During the first six months of 2007 freelance interpreters coined a new term: post GPP. We were all anticipating the 1st of July, the date of the handover of the EU Council Presidency to Portugal. Not that we were complaining, quite the contrary. We were all delighted that our order books were full, but still we were looking forward to a more relaxing summer post GPP after the German Presidency.
At SIMCONSULT we had made careful preparations for the German Presidency and one of our efforts last year was to post a text on our website. It is surprising how many enquiries we received for interpreting services at the runup to and during the Presidency, although nearly every EU meeting is interpreted. The EU member states have a great deal to talk about on many subjects apart from major political issues, as we found out.
Fit for the future
During the many meetings and events since January 2007 we discovered as interpreters just how much the various governments are doing to meet the Lisbon objectives, making Europe fit to face the future challenges of globalisation. Normally we have more to do with the private market sector for interpreters in Germany, than organising teams direct for the EU and for us it was interesting to experience Europe first hand at these conferences during the German presidency, rather than reading about them in the press.
High blood pressure
Logistics can prove to be a headache for interpreters, especially when schedules are tight. For example, you have to get a flight from Salzburg to Hamburg via Frankfurt on a Saturday evening (when as we all know there are few connections anyway). After a short night in your own bed you then have to catch a train to Berlin for a meeting at the Bundestag in the afternoon. The flight from Salzburg is delayed by two hours due to weather conditions in Frankfurt. When you finally get there you drive for miles across the airport tarmac on a bus and reach the departure gate for the connecting flight to Hamburg by the skin of your teeth, only to discover that the pilots for the Hamburg flight have not yet landed in Frankfurt themselves. The question is will you arrive in Hamburg before the airport closes for incoming flights at 22h30?
It still beats the Finnish Presidency in the second half of last year, according to George Drummond, one of the SIMCONSULT partners. He found himself working in almost permanent darkness north of the Arctic Circle in December 2006 three times in succession.
Prestigious Assignment World Future Council
On the 10th of May 2007 George Drummond and another local colleague interpreted at the founding of the World Future Council during the ceremony at the Hamburg City Hall. Among the speakers were The Mayor, Ole von Beust, the Swedish author and initiator of the Council, Jakob von Uexkkll, Honorary Council Member, Dr. Michael Otto, Professor Herbert Girardet and Council Members Bianca Jagger and Beate Weber, Mayor of Heidelberg. The World Future Council is a new voice in the global political arena a voice on behalf of our common human values, speaking out for the rights of future generations to ensure that humans act for a sustainable future. The General Secretariat of the Council is located in Hamburg and we are watching with great interest the rapid development of this new world body.
Thieves in the night
We also have some bad news to report. Some weeks ago our office in the centre of Hamburg was burgled. The three companies sharing the floor of the office building lost laptops, cameras and other easily portable items. The glass door at the entrance was smashed with a pointed object and the lock opened from the inside. The police dealt with the matter with cool professionalism, as it seems that such break-ins are the order of the day (or rather night). In spite of the care they took to collect evidence, it is still very difficult for the police to track down the culprits. After the burglary we had to change our bank account, which was just as annoying for some of our clients as for ourselves.
Pioneering research in Hamburg
On the 5th of May the Federal Minister for Research, Dr. Anette Schavan, launched a new era in research in the presence of her ministerial colleagues from France, Russia and Poland, three of 12 international partners in the project. This marked the beginning of the work on the XFEL X-ray laser at Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY. On completion in 2013 the XFEL will attract top researchers from all over the world. The unique x-ray laser flashes of the XFEL open up a whole new range of experimental possibilities. They can be used to film chemical reactions, decode atomic details of molecules and make 3-dimensional pictures from the nanocosmos. The 3.4 km long research installation stretches underground from DESY in Hamburg-Bahrenfeld to Schenefeld in Schleswig-Holstein. The inauguration ceremony and the press conference were interpreted by SIMCONSULT interpreters into English and French. It was all very exciting to think of us driving through Hamburg, completely unaware of what is gong on below the surface.
An all-time record
in short-term planning was achieved recently in the office when we received a phone call at 11 ooclock with an enquiry for two interpreters for German and English for the following day. It was an incentive event for financial services providers. The client was a well-known bank . Our Problem was that there was not a single interpreter free that day in Hamburg and the surrounding area. After many telephone calls Susanne Schwarz finally succeeded in booking interpreters from Frankfurt and Hanover, who then had to pack their bags immediately and produce the goods for the client the following day with almost no time for preparation.
There is of course no connection between this last-minute assignment and the following anecdote, but in interpreting circles it never fails to raise a smile. The phone rings. It is a colleague well-known in the business, frequently organising interpreting teams, but not a personal acquaintance. Without a word of introduction IIve called everybody the length and breadth of the country. Youure the last on my list. I hope at least you are still free!!
In any case, whether it is at short notice on a year in advance, we look forward to your calls and will always try to find the best solution for you.