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Kathi Stock doesn’t know the meaning of walls, despite having grown up in the shadow of one.
Born and raised in Falkenstein, in the former East Germany, Kathi’s natural affinity for languages became apparent in grade school. While she studied both English and Russian, she particularly excelled in the latter, to the point of earning exemptions from exams in both high school and college.
With a degree in elementary school education, Kathi found herself also teaching English, a job that she grew to enjoy. Then two major changes took place: the East German school system was adapted to the West German system after the wall came down in 1989; and Kathi went on maternity leave. When she returned from leave, she found herself in limbo.
Limbo, though, is sometimes a place of opportunity. Kathi was offered a position as a translator/interpreter for an American telecommunications company. That position gave her the chance to jump in feet first, learning on the job, working with texts ranging from telecommunications to finance to marketing, and more.
In 2002, Kathi and her sons moved to Lewisville, Texas to be with her American husband. It was in Texas that Kathi set up her office as a self-employed professional. Already certified in Germany as a translator/interpreter, she obtained a Master Court Interpreter license in Texas and passed the U.S. State Department examination.
Kathi credits her parents with her strong work ethic and commitment to continued learning, which she has in turn passed along to her sons. Her elder son (Thomas) is a research professor at the University of Korea in Seoul. Meanwhile, her younger son (Tony) moved back to Germany after college, played professional soccer for six months, and now works for a telecommunications company in Bavaria.
“I also have a 4-year-old, totally adorable, granddaughter,” Kathi shared, “and a 9 year-old stray cat who decided we needed company once the boys went off to college”.
It seems the cat was right: Kathi speaks of isolation as a challenge in her professional life. Once deeply involved with her children’s school and sports activities, where she constantly interacted with other people, when her boys went off to college Kathi began making a more conscious effort to balance her life with social interaction. She also walks dogs for the Lewisville Animal Shelter and participates regularly in a boot camp to stay in shape.
As for experiences as a translator and interpreter, Kathi’s run the gamut. She served as an interpreter in the “Hollywood Arsonist” case, and translated a book that was recognized as the “Most Popular Book in the Vogtland Region” (Kathi’s home area) for 2016. When asked about unusual assignments, she spoke of being called to West Texas to interpret for Child Services, only to find that the family requiring her services was Mennonite and spoke Plautdietsch, a Low German that developed in the 16th and 17th centuries and has nothing in common with modern German.
Kathi’s zest for life is reflected in a favorite quote: “No one ever injured their eyesight by looking at the bright side.” Ever one to explore language, she then asked, “How would you translate this without losing the rhyme?”
In closing our interview, I asked Kathi for some advice to share with newcomers to the field.
“You can never learn and know enough,” she said. “Be open to learning, adapting, and exceling. Find a mentor, find colleagues to gain more knowledge.”
That seems like sound advice for all of us!
Kathi Stock is a German<>English translator, certified by the State of Saxony, Germany and accredited by the U.S. State Department. She is also a Master Licensed Court Interpreter for the State of Texas. A long-time MITA member, Kathi is also a member of the ATA, NAJIT and TAJIT. Learn more about Kathi at her website: www.kathistocktranslations.com.