Seven Questions: Will Gorum
This is the fourth spotlight in a series called "Seven Questions." In it, we interview TypeWell transcribers and coordinators — each with the same seven questions. We thought it would be a great way to get to know one another in the TypeWell community.
This time, we spotlight Will Gorum, a TypeWell transcriber since 2001. Will is a nationally certified ASL interpreter and runs his own small agency, called Language Access Services. He works part time for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock as a interpreter/transcriber in addition to working as an independent contractor for a number of other agencies, both local and out of state.
TypeWell transcribers need to be flexible and be able to think quickly on their feet. A strong command of English is also necessary.
1) If you had to describe your job to someone with no knowledge of TypeWell in 30 seconds or less, what would you say?
I help people who can hear and people with hearing loss communicate with each other either by using sign language to interpret or by typing out what is said using a specialized typing acceleration software.
2) What did you study in college, or what were your favorite subjects in school?
My original plan was to obtain a graduate degree in either biology or marine biology; I'm a big nerd like that. After one semester in college, I decided I wanted to be an interpreter instead. I ended up graduating from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a B.A. degree in ASL/English Interpretation and a minor in educational interpreting. I'm currently trying to decide if I want to pursue a graduate degree in teaching interpreting or pursue an MBA.
3) What do you believe are the most important skills or traits for a TypeWell transcriber to have?
TypeWell transcribers need to be flexible and be able to think quickly on their feet. Sudden, unexpected changes WILL happen and you WILL have technical issues that you're going to have to deal with on the fly. A strong command of English is also necessary.
Will (left) and his friends at a carnivorous plant nursery, California Carnivores.
4) How many languages do you speak and what are they?
Two; I'm fluent in English (obviously - [grin]) and American Sign Language. I studied French while growing up in Louisiana, but I don't speak the language with any level of fluency at all.
5) If you could change anything about your work, what would it be?
I would love to improve my process time. Whether I'm interpreting or transcribing, when the information is coming at me quickly or if the information is dense, I begin to not trust my memory and I significantly shorten my lag time. When that happens, it becomes more difficult for me to chunk information effectively and I begin to move away from producing conceptual chunks in the target language and move more toward producing word-for-word chunks in the target language.
There are four hens in the backyard that provide me with eggs as well as two honeybee hives from which I harvest honey. You can't get much more local than that!
6) What is one misconception people have about you?
I don't think my acquaintances realize how "country" I can be. As I mentioned previously, I grew up in Louisiana. Part of that time growing up was spent on my grandparents' farm. We grew and preserved much of our own food, worked the gardens with a horse-drawn plow, tended the cows, goats, and chickens that were in the pastures, etc.
Even though I live in a more urban area now, I would LOVE to be able to do some of that again. The problem is that as a freelance interpreter/transcriber, I wouldn't enjoy the extended commute that would be involved with living in a more rural area while working in a more urban area. I'm active in the local food movement in Little Rock, Arkansas (where I now live). I know many of the local farmers from whom I buy a lot of what I eat.
I garden quite a bit with ornamental and edible plants in various places around the yard. Additionally, there are currently four hens in the backyard that provide me with eggs as well as two honeybee hives from which I harvest honey about twice a year. You can't get much more local than that!
7) What's the weirdest thing we might find on your desk or in your roller bag?
As I mentioned, I originally wanted to major in biology or marine biology before I became an interpreter and I'm a self-professed nerd, so I'm fascinated by the natural world. One of the strangest things you'll find on my desk would be one of my carnivorous Nepenthes pitcher plants, or in my roller bag, the quarterly newsletter for the International Carnivorous Plant Society.
For the past twenty-something years, I've grown carnivorous plants. The tropical carnivorous plants move in and out of the house as the weather allows while the temperate carnivorous plants (like my Sarracenia pitcher plants and Venus Flytraps - both of which are native to the USA) stay outside year round. The personalized license plate on my car even says "FLYTRAP."
Thank you, Will!