Interview of Pablo Chang-Castillo, co-founder of Chang-Castillo and Associates
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Nicaragua to a Chinese-Nicaraguan father and a Spanish-Nicaraguan mother. I emigrated to the US as a child, coming back to Central America (Costa Rica, Honduras, and of course, my dear Nicaragua) to study during the summertime throughout my childhood and college. Both my parents’ mother tongue was Spanish but they had also studied in the States. My dad also spoke fluent Cantonese and French so he sent me to France as an exchange student when I was 15. So you could say that I was born and grew up surrounded by languages! I also became a French citizen three years ago.
I have an MA in both Translation and Conference Interpretation from the Monterey Institute of International Studies (now the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey) and an MA in Bilingual Legal Interpretation from the University of Charleston (now called the Graduate School of the College of Charleston).
Why did you decide to create CCA?
What excites me the most about conference interpretation is that it allows me to discover the world and share it with our customers. At CCA, we build bridges between cultures, which is fascinating.
What makes CCA so different?
Unlike other companies on the market, we are not project managers or sales people trying to sell translation services, or equipment providers who also recruit interpreters — we ARE the linguists doing the job, either in front of the computer or in the interpretation booth, or recruiting colleagues who do the same with the same quality we insist upon for ourselves. We are the only translation and interpretation company to be owned and operated by working translators and interpreters – so we know exactly what our clients need, and how to provide them with the service they deserve.
Pardon the pun, but how does this translate into CCA’s practices?
Many people will claim that they speak another language, but there is a huge difference between having spent a summer in France or having a grandmother who was born in Mexico, and being a competent translator or conference interpreter at a professional level. We know what skill it takes to be a competent translator or interpreter.
One of my colleagues once told me that when you have someone replace you, you should make sure that they are at least as good as you are. That’s why we are so selective when it comes to recruiting translators and interpreters. We only want the crème de la crème, those who have formal training, certifications, AND a proven track record in the field.
Tell us about a time when your skills were really put to the test.
I remember a few years ago, we were providing conference interpretation services for a global summit in Los Angeles, California. The power suddenly went out, so of course the interpretation booths and microphones became unusable. Within a few moments, our interpreters were there on the floor, providing consecutive interpretation to the delegates, making it possible to continue the meeting seamlessly. This was possible because we knew, as interpreters ourselves, that we had put together a team who had the languages and the skills to work under whatever circumstances that came their way. This is what makes CCA unique and like no other company out there.