New Zealand Sign Language Interpreter
Bachelor of Arts in New Zealand Sign Language – English Interpreting
When Rebekah Guy first discovered Sign Language interpreting, it was love at first sight.
“After secondary school, I enrolled in a linguistics degree and in one of the classes we covered the different languages in New Zealand. The guest lecturer talking about New Zealand Sign Language was Deaf and used a New Zealand Sign Language interpreter to communicate with us. That was the first time I’d seen this dynamic, and I was immediately fascinated.”
However, it would be another decade and living in three different countries before Rebekah would pursue her passion for New Zealand Sign Language.
“I came back to New Zealand, and started working as a web editor and reporter. But I soon realised I wasn’t in a career I was really passionate about. When a friend reminded me how fascinated I had been by New Zealand Sign Language, I explored my options and decided to enrol in AUT’s Bachelor of Arts in New Zealand Sign Language – English Interpreting.”
Connected to the community
Choosing to study at AUT was a life-changing decision, Rebekah says.
“Once I’d made the decision, I instantly knew it was the right one. I enjoyed being part of such a supportive environment, and loved that the classes were interactive and could be adapted to the needs of Sign Language classes and bringing in interpreters if needed.”
AUT’s strong relationships with the Deaf community are one of the strengths of the programme, she says.
“We had members of the Deaf community come in and chat to our class all the time, and there were social gatherings where we could practise our skills. I also loved that the degree included 50 hours of practicum time. I spent a weekend interpreting at a Deaf youth camp, and also interpreted for Deaf mums at a Plunket group.”
Making a difference
Now working as a New Zealand Sign Language Interpreter, Rebekah loves the variety of her work.
“Any time people communicate with each other there could be a need for an interpreter – this could be at a funeral, going to the doctor or hospital, or saying goodbye to someone in a hospice. Every day, I work with different people and in different places.
“I feel it’s quite a privilege to be in these interpreting situations. As someone who is socially conscious, I love that I can use my understanding of New Zealand Sign Language to support my clients and minimise injustice in the world in a small but meaningful way.”