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From Yoga Teacher to Multilingual Health Translator

Amy Hochberg’s journey began as an office manager in New York City while she moonlighted as a yoga teacher. The fallout from 9/11 resulted in her job becoming redundant while demand for yoga teachers spiked. Hochberg seamlessly transitioned into teaching yoga full time.

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By Lisa A. Goldstein

Amy Hochberg has had to adapt her career several times but through it all has followed her passions.

Her journey began as an office manager in New York City while she moonlighted as a yoga teacher. The fallout from 9/11 resulted in her job becoming redundant while demand for yoga teachers spiked. Hochberg seamlessly transitioned into teaching yoga full time.

This wasn’t fulfilling enough, so she decided to pursue a career as a physical therapist. She was forced to withdraw from a Doctor of Physical Therapy program seven months prior to anticipated graduation because no clinical instructor would accept a deaf student on the required clinical rotations. Hochberg has severe to profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss, diagnosed at two years of age. She wears a digital hearing aid in one ear.

Determined that four years of health sciences and physical therapy studies would not go to waste, Hochberg decided to combine her knowledge with teaching yoga and work with cancer survivors and people with chronic ailments as well as those recovering from injuries.

“I enjoyed the challenge of tailoring the class to the students’ particular needs in the moment as well as overall, and helping them to take good care of themselves,” Hochberg says.

During this time, she also provided translation services on the occasional project, from business proposals to restaurant menus and websites. She was able to do this thanks to attending a bilingual school, studying Spanish through high school and college, along with French and Catalan. “I have never stopped studying since: Use them or lose them,” Hochberg says.

Years of yoga teaching took its physical toll in the form of repetitive stress injuries, and Hochberg decided it was time to move to Barcelona and change her career. She has thrived thanks to translating projects. Since the biomedical and health-related translation projects interested her the most, it occurred to her that she could do more with her broader knowledge. She is currently completing her PhD in Translation and Language Sciences with a thesis that focuses on cultural linguistic aspects of multilingual health information texts (and how to improve them). Hochberg is now in the job market hoping to find a position that will combine translation with multilingual health communication.

“My translation work immerses me in the universe of words with the objective of transferring the message from one language to another while maintaining the tone with cultural adaptations,” Hochberg explains. “This passion carries over into multilingual health communication: What needs to be conveyed so that a health information message will be received by a cultural minority group in the intended way, to empower them to take care of themselves and their community?”

In addition to her language abilities and empathy stemming from personal experience, Hochberg says she is creative with words. “Creativity is necessary to ensure coherence of the translated text in the process of transferring the original message,” she adds.

Accessibility has been a challenge. Hochberg has had to request transcripts for audio recordings and captioning for live and recorded videos. Accessibility for Zoom and other videoconferencing platforms in multiple languages is not yet where it needs to be. “I look forward to the day when AI can recognize and instantly switch between languages in the process of providing automatic captioning,” Hochberg shares.

As a multilingual deaf person in the US, she was treated as an alien by many people due to the stereotype that deaf people can’t learn languages. In terms of learning a language, Hochberg says the best process for a deaf person is to read and write the new words, listen to how the teacher pronounces the word and repeat after them. Working with a phonetics teacher in the language in question once or twice a week helps a lot.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because you’re deaf,” Hochberg says.

De profesora de yoga a traductora multilingüe de temas sanitarios

Amy Hochberg ha tenido que adaptar su carrera profesional varias veces, pero a pesar de todo ha seguido lo que le apasionaba.

Empezó trabajando como jefa de oficina en la ciudad de Nueva York que compaginaba con las actividades de maestra de yoga. Una de las consecuencias del 11 de septiembre es que su puesto de trabajo desapareció mientras que la demanda de maestros de yoga se disparaba. Amy realizó una transición perfecta hacia la enseñanza del yoga a tiempo completo.

Como no le resultaba un trabajo plenamente satisfactorio, decidió realizar estudios de fisioterapia. Se vio obligada a abandonar un programa de doctorado en fisioterapia siete meses antes de la graduación anticipada porque ningún instructor clínico aceptaría a una alumna con sordera en las rotaciones clínicas requeridas. Amy tiene una pérdida auditiva neurosensorial bilateral de severa a profunda, diagnosticada a la edad de dos años. Utiliza un audífono digital en un oído.

Decidida a no desperdiciar cuatro años de estudios en ciencias de la salud y fisioterapia, Amy decidió combinar sus conocimientos con la enseñanza del yoga y trabajar con supervivientes de cáncer y personas con dolencias crónicas, así como con personas que se recuperaban de lesiones.

«Disfruté del reto de adaptar la clase a las necesidades particulares de los participantes, tanto en el momento como en general, y de ayudarles a que se cuidaran bien», comenta Amy.

Durante este tiempo, también prestó servicios de traducción en proyectos ocasionales, desde propuestas comerciales hasta menús de restaurantes y sitios web. Tenía esta capacidad por haber asistido a una escuela bilingüe y estudiado español en secundaria y en la universidad, además de francés y catalán. «Nunca he dejado de estudiarlos desde entonces: o los utilizas o los pierdes», dice Amy.

Tantos años enseñando yoga le habían pasado una factura física en forma de lesiones por tensiones repetitivas y decidió que era hora de trasladarse a Barcelona y cambiar de trayectoria profesional. Gracias a los proyectos de traducción, ha conseguido prosperar. Dado que los proyectos de traducción biomédicos y relacionados con la salud eran los que más le interesaban, se le ocurrió que podía sacar más partido a sus amplios conocimientos. Actualmente está finalizando un doctorado en Traducción y Ciencias del Lenguaje con una tesis que se centra en los aspectos lingüísticos culturales de los textos de información sanitaria multilingües (y la manera de mejorarlos). Amy se encuentra actualmente en el mercado laboral con la esperanza de encontrar un puesto que combine la traducción con la comunicación sanitaria multilingüe.

«El trabajo de traducción me sumerge en el universo de las palabras con el fin de trasladar el mensaje de un idioma a otro manteniendo el tono con adaptaciones culturales», explica. «Esta pasión se traslada a la comunicación sanitaria multilingüe: ¿qué se debe transmitir para que un grupo minoritario cultural reciba un mensaje de información sanitaria en la manera prevista, para ayudarles a cuidar de sí mismos y de su comunidad?

Además de las habilidades lingüísticas y la empatía derivadas de su experiencia personal, Amy asegura ser creativa con las palabras. «La creatividad es necesaria para asegurar la coherencia del texto traducido en el proceso de transferencia del mensaje original», añade.

La accesibilidad ha sido un reto. Amy ha tenido que solicitar transcripciones de grabaciones de audio y subtítulos en videos en vivo y grabados. A Zoom y otras plataformas de videoconferencia en varios idiomas todavía les falta un gran recorrido en materia de accesibilidad. «Espero que llegue el día en que la IA pueda reconocer y cambiar instantáneamente entre idiomas en el proceso de facilitar subtítulos automáticos», explica Amy.

Siendo una persona con sordera multilingüe en los EE. UU., muchas personas la trataban como si fuera alienígena debido al estereotipo de que las personas con sordera no pueden aprender idiomas. Para aprender un idioma, Amy asegura que el mejor proceso para una persona con sordera es leer y escribir las palabras nuevas, escuchar la manera en que el maestro las pronuncia y repetirlas a continuación. Esta práctica una o dos veces por semana con un maestro de fonética en el idioma en cuestión sirve de gran ayuda.

«No permita que nadie le diga que no puede hacer algo porque tiene sordera», recomienda Amy.

 

 

 

 

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