Interpreter Spotlight: Meet Robika Noori
Updated: Jan 3
Robika Noori is an Afghan medical interpreter of Dari and Farsi. This is the latest in our series of Liberty Language Services Blog posts highlighting the variety of careers available in the field of interpreting, and the variety of professional language specialists who work as Liberty interpreters.
How long have you been working as an interpreter? I've been working as an interpreter for almost three years, since 2019.
Why did you choose this profession? While I was working with INOVA Fairfax Hospital as an ambassador, I saw that some newly arrived Afghan Immigrants had communication problems, especially women. That inspired me to pursue work as interpreter, and use my skills which are in the Dari and Farsi languages.
How did you get started as an interpreter? First I began searching for interpreting jobs and training. Then I called Liberty Language Services and enrolled in the 40-Hour Professional Medical Interpreter training class. I then started my work with Liberty as a medical interpreter.
Do you remember your first interpreting assignment? Sure, my first assignment was with a patient at a DC area hospital. It was for 6 hours, and for the first two hours I felt pressure and fear, but I just tried my best and realized I could handle the situation. After that, I started watching videos and memorizing medical terms, which I find really helpful and important.
How do you prepare for your assignments? I always make sure to be prepared for the subject of the appointment. If it is one that I am confident about, there is less need to prepare, but if it is something new, I use the internet to research and learn more about it.
How has Covid-19 affected your work as an interpreter?
Overall COVID made communication a little difficult for interpreters and patients. Sometimes it is not easy for the patient to explain what they want while using video. Often medical communication and interpretation needs more time and more communication. Being there in person - which we can now do - is definitely best.
Do you recommend any app or tool that is helpful for new interpreters?
Yes, besides Liberty's 40-Hour Interpreter Training, I recommend new interpreters also pursue certification. It makes a big difference.
How did you develop and maintain your professional skills?
Watching medical videos and continuing to take new training classes - in addition to my onsite work experience - has been really helpful for me.
What do you think is the most important thing you should do to be a successful interpreter?
Time management, self confidence and clear communication between patient and hospital team make the most successful interpreters.
What would you like changed or improved in the interpreting industry?
I know that new arrivals, especially Afghan immigrants, want female online interpreters in Dari and Pashto languages. If Liberty Language Services made it possible for interpreters who are interested in working from home to interpret online for clients in other states too, I would like to provide this service.
What was the most memorable interpreting experience you've had?
I had a 7-year-old cancer patient, a boy who had a bone marrow transplant. I provided interpreting every day for three months and learned a lot, including medication color coding; it was an amazing experience. The patient was so happy to see and talk with me. I was able to observe the many different steps involved in the operation and how it was done. At the beginning I was so sad for the boy, but by the end it was truly a miracle as he recovered. He had a teacher while in the hospital to keep up with his school subjects, including music lessons. Before he was released, the hospital team held a celebration for him. Everyone was so happy for him, and his family was so grateful that they were here in the U.S. If he had been treated in Afghanistan, they felt sure he would have died.
The boy is now in a good place physically, mentally and emotionally, and I am really happy about that. This was the most memorable and meaningful interpreting assignment of my life.