Meet the Team: Ratnam Ratneswaran, Tamil Interpreter

Every month, we introduce you to one of our team. This month, meet Ratnam Ratneswaran, one of our interpreters working between Tamil and English. Find out about his enthusiasm for communicating with people and why he'd still be an interpreter even if he won the lottery!

What do you do for tls?

I have been working as a Tamil and English interpreter since 2017. Before Covid I worked face-to-face, but I have worked remotely during the pandemic.

What’s been your favourite project at tls?

I love all of it! I really enjoy talking to people; after living in four different countries and working in four different fields, I would say that I’ve finally landed a job that I really love. I like meeting people and putting them at ease – for example, I always adapt my dialect to match the service user, to make them as comfortable as possible. I’m looking forward to working face-to-face again.

What’s been the biggest challenge?

When I first started in the job, I had been away from my community for such a long time. I started working at Barts [hospital], and seeing first-hand the domestic violence, mental health problems and abuse happening in my community was really hard.

If you didn’t do your current job, what would you like to do?

Even if I won the lottery, I would still be an interpreter! Before this, I was an insurance broker. As I progressed up the ladder I had less and less contact with people, and I didn’t like it. When my wife’s work needed a Tamil-speaking health advocate, I thought I would give it a go for six months. And here I am!

Tell us something interesting about you

I was once the only passenger on a commercial flight! It was Christmas 1983 and I was flying to Zurich. When I realised it was only me on the plane, I asked if I could go into the cockpit with the pilot. They let me in there until it was time to land. And when I disembarked, I got given all the chocolate that they would have handed out!

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

I wish I could have met former US President John F Kennedy. I really admire him: he was the youngest elected US president at 43, he stood up to the Russians during the Cuban Missile Crisis, navigated the Civil Rights Movement and took on the US mafia.

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