“This semester has blown my mind so far,” says Anna Wohlrab MACI/Certificate in Conflict Resolution ’17. “It is so different from everything I’ve done over the past three years, but I feel like it is the perfect addition to my Conference Interpretation (MACI) degree.” After finishing all of the degree requirements for her interpretation degree Wohlrab enrolled in classes directed towards earning a certificate in Conflict Resolution.
“Conference interpretation and conflict resolution might seem like two completely different areas of study but I actually believe they complement each other extremely well,” Wohlrab says. She is particularly interested in issues of social justice and would like to explore a career where she can use the skills she acquired in interpretation with a better understanding of the field of conflict resolution. “This semester I have the chance to learn more about the theoretical side, as well as different tools I can use as a future conflict resolution practitioner.”
“I have always loved languages. I know it sounds cheesy but every language I speak is like a door to a new world, opening my eyes in so many ways. Being able to go to another country and learn from the people of their culture and their lives in their language to me is a unique opportunity to really be there with them and to understand as much as possible about who they are.”
Wohlrab says being a good conference interpreter is probably one of the most difficult things you can do with languages and she loves the challenge. How to handle highly stressful situations, public speaking, and “really, truly listening to people while analyzing, anticipating, and processing what is being said,” are some of the skills interpreters need to have that are also very useful in any life or career she says. “It is all quite challenging, but I have improved a lot while here.”
She is learning how valuable those skills can be when applied to the field of conflict resolution. “Especially when you think about such questions as, ‘How can anyone work in the Conflict Resolution field without being able to truly listen?’” Wohlrab says. “Language is such a powerful tool in conflict and I have had the privilege of getting incredible language training in two fantastic schools” (the Middlebury Institute and the Technical University of Cologne).
On the first day of the master’s degree program she completed in her native Germany, Wohlrab met a girl on the metro in Cologne who would later become her friend. She had studied at the Institute for one semester and was able to pique Wohlrab’s interest with her stories. “She mentioned that the teaching style here was completely different from back home and that MIIS was a unique place with people from all over the world that all spoke at least two languages and that would always make you want to learn more.” Eventually Wohlrab reached out to a former teacher who she knew had studied at the Institute and with her support and advice received a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to come to Monterey.
“I love everything I have learned so far and I am still learning here. Now, having been here for a year, I have to smile when I think back because the Middlebury Institute is obviously the perfect school for me. It combines everything I am passionate about. That is especially surprising because when I first came here, I had absolutely no idea what to expect.”