This is a suggestion that I think could improve our experience in Babels.
I once was a volunteer interpreter for a conference (the World Civil Society Forum, Geneva) in which the volunteer interpreters had a fully equiped room to rest and socialize. This room had a coffee machine, had food and drinks, had a big table and chairs to eat, drink and chat with our fellow interpreters.
In other words: this room allowed us to rest between conferences.
This room also allowed us to eat whenever we were hungry. You know, when your conferences start late and finish late, and take place at lunch time, and you never know when you will have time to eat, this is what you need, you can't waste time looking around for food, and the nearest places are most certainly collapsed, full of delegates. And volunteer interpreters cannot afford to eat out in places such as Geneva, or Paris, for that matter. So in this room in Geneva we had everything: salads, sandwiches, fruit, etc.
Of course, there were volunteers who were not interpreting taking care of that room.
I think that Babels should provide a room like that. Specially after seeing how much troble we had finding food in Paris... Some people had to chose between eating or interpreting... The only way out was paying the food themselves at exhorbitant Paris rates.
And a room like that would also allow us to socialize. I was very disappointed with that in Paris. I barely talked to anybody other than the mike! But then, our room was just a "cheking point", were you had to fight with your fellow interpreters to get a mission and finally do some work. I had the impression that everybody else in that room was a competitor and not a friend! Everybody was tense, ears ready for the shout: "anyone with Spanish?" And it rarely came...
Paris, St Denis, France: 12-15 novembre 2003
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