My experience with foreign languages runs deep. In a way, it all began at the young age of four, when a woman from Latvia, I’ll call her L for short, became my next door neighbor. L had been through a lot in the sixty years of life it took for her–my third grandmother in hindsight–to make her way to me. A large part of that journey unfolded against the backdrop of two world wars, the second of which culminated in her internment in a concentration camp. Upon her liberation, L and her son spent time in Germany and then eventually landed in the States, where L worked all manner of jobs to support her family. L was the epitome of inspiration, and her love and will to live manifested themselves in everything she touched. She was a fabulous cook and gardener par excellence. It was L who taught me how to say my first words in a foreign language. Curiously enough, they weren’t Latvian. They were German.
Fast forward 35 years and here I sit, a small business owner and freelance translator certified by the American Translators Association for translation from German into English. I earned my B.A. in 1994 from Rhodes College in Memphis, where I double-majored in Anthropology/Sociology and German. I followed that up with an M.A. in German from the University of Georgia in 1998. My first encounters with language in an educational setting were high school classes in French and Spanish. I spent my entire senior year as an exchange student in Bremen, Germany. I went with no previous knowledge of German, save for the words that L taught me and what I could teach myself out of a book. Originally from West Virginia, I’ve lived, studied and worked in metro Atlanta for the last sixteen years.