Sunday, January 17, 2010

At Your Service

This morning (Saturday) I was scheduled to volunteer at the free clinic for the uninsured run by the med students here. I was to do patient education on how to best manage chronic conditions (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, etc). Well, that wasn't what I ended up spending the vast majority of my morning doing.

Instead, I spent the vast majority of my morning translating Mandarin Chinese into English and back for this Chinese woman who spoke very little English. You know, I never fully appreciated how difficult it is to translate until now. Even though I feel I did a fairly good job translating, there were random words and phrases that eluded me - words and phrases that I know I know. Like "cancer," I know how to say "cancer" in Chinese, but it's still eluding me! Argh.

She came in with her husband who would've served as her translator, except he was called back to a different room than she was. So basically, without me it would've been near-impossible to do anything for this woman. So it felt great that I was able to help out in such a capacity. Things go really slowly when translations are necessary.

Afterwards, and after her very emphatic "thank yous" to the other med students, the doctor, and me, she asked me when I moved here from China. -_- They always ask me that, without fail. Imagine her surprise when I told her I was born in Chicago. "But your Chinese is so good! Where did you learn to speak it?" My parents speak it at home . . . so we speak it at home (is that so unusual?). Sigh, such is the curse of being an ABC.

Anywho, while I was actually doing my real role at the free clinic, I had the opportunity to talk to this diabetic woman waiting for labs to be done. She used to work at the hospital that our med school's affiliated with, until she was laid off and currently has no insurance. And here she is going to a free clinic run by med students from the med school affiliated with the hospital she was laid off from. That's some twisted irony there. But she was great about it, took it all in stride.

On a completely different note, I finally finished watching the anime Death Note today. It's sooo good!! I love the detective and scheming of it all. It's almost like a twisted kind of Sherlock Holmes (great movie, btw, if you haven't seen it yet). Now I can (hopefully) study for real . . . tomorrow that is.


Biki said...

Learning an other language as a child comes in most handy, and when you least expect it. Enjoy being an ABC! It makes you even more special than you already are!

Ron said...

haha, the curse of being an ABC -- yeah, I'm a CBC (Canadian-born), and at home my parents speak Canto with me... and they're always surprised that my canto is that good. My English is far superior, but i suppose i can converse with canto.

and yeah - that's ironic. vefry unfortunate... in Canada of course that won't exist, every Canadians has gov't subsidized insurance. goods and bads about that of course.

and yes sherlock holmes was amazing, i loved it too!


PS oh wow my word confirmation is "peter". finally a real word.

Anonymous said...

Should have just gone for the job of professional translator. ;)

Mike said...

I would love to get to use my Spanish in a setting like that- maybe not medical setting- but as a translator- just an added skill :)

ABC is American Born Chinese, right?
That's going back to high school when everyone was talking about being ABC or FOB.

Hypnos said...

LOL about the women and translating, but you did a great job, well done for helping her

And yeah Death Note is amazing, watch it a long time ago, you even have films (two parts) which are almost identical to the anime... Watch them... Now I recommend Bleach or Naruto if you didn't watch them :))) heheh

Aek said...

Biki: Oh, knowing multiple languages are great! I only wish I were more fluent (that is, even remotely) in Spanish. Being an ABC has its annoying frustrations. :-/

Ron: Hehe, yeah. I'm fluent in "conversational Mandarin." I can understand, but can't speak, Cantonese. I could a little, if I tried hard.

James: Lol, I don't think so. That'd be hard!

Mike: Yes, ABC = American-Born Chinese. We're so distinct that we have our own acronym. :-P

Hypnos: Thanks. ^_^ Yes, I'm following both the manga and anime for both Bleach and Naruto. May I suggest Fullmetal Alchemist, Fairy Tail, and/or Nodame Cantabile to you if you don't follow them. :-)

Anonymous said...

Anon MD

You're starting to get to the good part of med school--interacting with the patients. That's when all the hard work, the grueling memorization of the Krebs Cycle and the synthesis of cholesterol come together as you develop or modify the treatment plan with your patient. The smile the patient has at the end of the visit--there's just nothing like it in the world.

E said...

"emphatic "thank yous"....she asked me when I moved here from China. -_- They always ask me that, without fail."

Love that such a thing happens to other people. Mine is a bit different though. After I have grown impatient or find it impossible to communicate, I eventually use my spanish. I get the weird look and then the interrogation, which usually starts with "How do you know spanish? You speak it very well. Is your father hispanic or your mother? Where are they from?" If they have read my name tag that doesn't help either. And though I agree with the annoying frustrations, I love to watch other people do things like that.

On a side note, I've been reading this Naruto anime. Very good story. I scored some points with the kids in my mother's school when I mentioned the word 'jutsu'. I guess it's the new craze ;)