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What It's Like To Be A UN Interpreter

Secretary of State John Kerry entering a United Nations meeting in New York, as delegates listen to interpreters through earpieces. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Secretary of State John Kerry entering a United Nations meeting in New York, as delegates listen to interpreters through earpieces. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Among the most heard and least recognized players at the United Nations General Assembly session these last two weeks were the interpreters.

A Radio Free Europe journalist once referred to the annual event as the World Cup of professional interpretation, and it’s easy to see why. It can be grueling. One interpreter famously collapsed during a long speech by the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. He had made it through 75 of the speech’s 95 minutes.

Helen Reynolds-Brown, a freelance UN interpreter, talks about her experiences with Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson.

Guest

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