Sunday, 24 May 2009

Finding a work-life balance crossing America

One of the highlights of this year’s ITI conference was the inspiring and gripping presentation given by Phil Goddard (who has been a freelance into-English translator for over twenty years) on his 3,000-mile walk through America in 2006. The journey that took him from New York to Los Angeles was in memory of his wife Jayne, who had died of colon cancer at the age of 49, and aimed to raise money for cancer research. A fond walker in general, Phil explained that to him walking represented the only real way of experiencing the landscape and of meeting locals. When he set off, apart from essentials like a tent and a sleeping bag, he also took his laptop so that he could share his experience with other people by blogging, and also continue translating in order to finance his journey.

"Walking is Man’s best medicine." (Hippocrates)

The presentation also included photos illustrating Phil’s account of his amazing journey, on which he also met Pam, his new wife-to-be. New Orleans at the time gave the impression of a war zone because of the flooding following Hurricane Katrina. It was amusing to hear that Phil also used a pushchair, which he had found and in the end pushed for 700 to 800 miles to transport his belongings. Admittedly, this did feel a bit silly at times, and he was stopped several times by police alerted by bewildered locals or tourists. Occasionally Phil met other people, even other translators, who like him were walking through America, albeit mostly for other such as religious reasons.

Phil Goddard

Phil wrapped up his presentation, which had without doubt managed to capture the audience's attention, by quoting Hippocrates' aphorism “Walking is Man’s best medicine“ and mentioning some interesting statistical data concerning his walk. For example, he had been on the move for a duration of 11 months; he had walked for 3,091 miles overall and about 7 million steps; the number of dogs that had barked at him amounted to around 970; he had lost 15 pounds; the number of boots worn amounted to a total of 3; etc.

Check out Phil’s walk blog and the New Orleans blog.