By Jonathan Goldberg
Note from the editors: We are taking the unusual step of presenting this interview of interpreter Susan Vo by Jonathan Goldberg in two parts, the first covering her early life and introduction to the interpreting profession, and the second covering her work as an interpreter at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Publishing the interview in two parts also resolves the issue of length: as it stands, the text is quite a bit longer than our limits for Translorial.com articles, which we set for online readability.
While the two halves of this long interview reveal Vo’s depth as an interpreter, each can stand alone in its own right. The insights she shares in Part 2 were directly influenced by her early life. Growing up in a culture other than her own, which she knew only secondhand through her parents and other refugees, she came to understand her Vietnamese birth culture more fully by comparison with that of her adopted country (Canada). This might well have given her the perspective that made her capable of an ethical approach to persons who had done great harm: no culture is without its moral outliers.