Postgraduate students from MSc Interpreting and MSc Interpreting and Translating played a crucial role at this year’s CAUX International Conference where they kept the international network of participants in the loop, interpreting the ideas and discussions shared between the multilingual guests and speakers.

The CAUX International Conference is organised annually by the CAUX Initiatives of Change Foundation and offers over 1500 participants from around the world the chance to share views and personal stories and engage with a wide network of international change-makers.

Each year the organisers turn to Heriot-Watt for the high-level services of our professionally trained MSc Interpreting students who get the chance to gain international conference experience and work alongside professional interpreters with flourishing careers.

The conference is held in the wonderful setting of CAUX Palace, a striking building located in Montreux, Switzerland, which played its part in bringing nations together again following World War 2.

Jamie Dewar, Martin Grande, Rachel Hogan and Emeline Revel from our MSc Interpreting and Translating programme attended the conference this year to interpret the stories and discussions between guests and delegates from English, French, German and Spanish.

The Postgraduate Languages students worked alongside professional interpreters covering conference discussions on topics such as ‘Just Governance for Human Security', 'Land and Security' and ‘Towards an Inclusive Peace’.

Rachel Hogan, one of the MSc students who put their Heriot-Watt interpreting training in to practice at Caux, felt prepared after her Master’s degree, but also learnt a great deal from the professionals she worked alongside, saying,

“Caux was an invaluable experience. It was great to be able to put the skills we had learned at University into practice. Our training at Heriot Watt had prepared us very well for interpreting in a real conference setting, especially in terms of how to deal with complex, technical terminology that you don't even understand in your own language!”

“I would encourage anybody that gets the opportunity in the future to apply to participate. Although you are working on a voluntary basis, you are working alongside professional interpreters who can provide feedback and guidance which is an essential to our development and training as interpreters. The location is also beautiful which is just an added bonus!”

- Rachel

Emeline spent ten days interpreting from English to French and vice-versa and found the experience to be a positive step between her MSc degree and life as a professional interpreter, saying,

“As to my personal experience, I can only say it was a very positive one. The Caux Palace is a gorgeous place, set in an amazing landscape of mountains surrounding the Lake Léman. The weather was great as well so even just from that point, the environment I was in was very nice.” “Each programme was a different experience for me. I worked with a team of unexperienced masters students - like me - and experienced professional interpreters. It was the perfect combination as I was not the only one feeling like a beginner, and I could learn a lot from experienced colleagues.”

“In terms of preparation, I felt our training at Heriot-Watt was good and helpful. Preparing those conferences was not very different from what we had done in the masters – looking for vocabulary, websites, names, acronyms, etc. The difference with the masters was the professional context: more pressure, more technical and faster speeches, but also the opportunity to talk to the speakers about their next speech. It was a bit like Heriot-Watt on another level.”

“Overall, I got to understand better what the professional world of interpreters looks and feels like. Practising every day for a week, under pressure and on such specific topics, was definitely a challenge but I could tell I was improving very quickly.  I came back with a clear idea of the main points I need to work on in order to improve the quality of my interpreting. Now I also have the project to start my career as a freelance interpreter in Lyon, France, while preparing the accreditation tests for the EU and UN. I think interpreting is my new drug!”

- Emeline

Martin, who spent 5 days interpreting between English and French on discussions such as restoring deserted land and easing tensions between local communities, was particularly inspired by the full experience and people he met,

“I interpreted for English and French speaking participants for 5 days during the Caux Dialogue on Land and Security.” “Many speakers went a step further in their fields of expertise, which gave us the opportunity to work with varied subjects such as the drone-assisted planting of trees, the development of environmentally-friendly apps, the blockchain economy, the empowerment of local populations, and the expansion of the education sector in Africa, etc.”

“Caux is a space of sharing and personal development. After a meditation session every morning, all participants did their part in the organisation, taking turns in the kitchen and in the dining room (or in the booths, for interpreters). This special atmosphere is ideal for engaging with anyone, from local farmers to high ranked UN officials.”

“The week was demanding but also very fulfilling. I had prepared for a week before coming down to Switzerland (technical terminology, practice for the accents), and it really paid off. On top of our role as interpreters, we had to opportunity to talk to the speakers, all of whom have inspiring stories to tell.”

- Martin