Updated: Jan 23
#MoreThanJustAnInterpreter is a regular segment in our newsletter where we highlight the other things that our members do, aside from interpreting. This time, Izegbuwa Oleghe tells us about her path to becoming a BSL interpreter and about her experiences in becoming a Restorative Approaches Practitioner and Transformational Life Coach.
I was introduced to the world of BSL when I met Jacqui, up until that point I was only vaguely aware of Deaf people and the Deaf community. Attending the BSL march in 1999, becoming separated from friends, unable to communicate and feeling overwhelmed was the catalyst that propelled me into learning signed language. The feeling of inadequacy and the inability to communicate, resulted in my desire to learn a few signs. I enrolled on a Deaf Awareness Course, then moved up to Level 1, where I completely fell in love with BSL.
I swiftly progressed on to Level 2, around which time Jacqui invited me to shadow her in Glastonbury for the weekend. She was working with the coolest interpreters Audrey and Maria. Shadowing Jacqui whilst at the First Aid tent, observing her ability to make a difference blew me away. This was the moment I decided I was going to leave my career as a junior Graphic Designer and become a BSL Interpreter. I was so in love with the aesthetics of BSL, I had not yet grasped the breadth and depth of study, the patience, commitment, determination, and resilience that I would require to see it through to completion. A fortuitous opportunity in 2004, City Lit ran the BA(Hons) Deaf Studies: Communication Support Work, I was elated that I had attained level 2 by that time, which was the prerequisite for entry. On completion of the BA, I progressed through the Post Grad with UCLAN. My determination to succeed led me to study for 12 years straight. In hindsight, if I were to do it all over again, I would shift greater focus to my practical skills and less to the theoretical. As the gaps in my practical skills stem from insufficient practice during my studies, which certainly impacts my confidence and further determines domains I now choose when selecting interpreting assignments.
I do find great pleasure in learning. Since my early 20s, my interests have been in self-development and over the years expanded to reading about natural herbs and therapies, metaphysics, energy healing and crystal healing. I am also intrigued by the ancient cultures and their practices of resolving conflict, whether it be within the self or with others. My interests led me to study Restorative Approaches (RA) and Transformational Life Coaching. I qualified as a RA Practitioner in 2017 and qualified as a Transformational Life Coach in 2020. You may ask what is Restorative Approaches? In a nutshell, Restorative Approaches is an alternative to the retributive model (court/prison). It draws on ancient practices and concepts, focusing on healing the harm done to individuals and communities. It is facilitated by two RA Practitioners. It allows an individual who was harmed to share their truth; the individual who caused the harm, an opportunity to understand the real impact and own the responsibility; it also gives a community the opportunity to express their feelings and support the re-integration of the individual who caused harm, back into the community. It can be an incredibly emotional but rewarding journey.
Having experienced some challenges in my own life that I have navigated, choosing life coaching was simply the desire to be of service to others in some way, by supporting them to achieve peace of mind and greater wellbeing. Coaching is self-directed and person centred. As the coach, I am accompanying the individual on their journey and asking a series of questions, also providing information, whilst they set goals to achieve their desires. It is wonderful to journey with an individual from a space of ‘I don’t know’ to their ‘Aha moment’ or witness the spark of realisation appear when they utter words and listen to the ponderings of their own mind for the first time, which completely changes the course of their thinking, often rooting out underlying beliefs that no longer serve them. It is simply beautiful as there are two journeys taking place simultaneously, the one where I am accompanying the person being coached and my own personal journey, learning from them and with them.
In recognising my own progress, I can only acknowledge my achievements by comparing who I was yesterday, with who I have become today. It would be a disservice to say that because I have not confidently mastered sign language to perfection, that my journey thus far has been in vain. Whether the interconnection is a bridge that extends across two languages, a bridge that enables individuals to recreate a newfound peace or a bridge to self-realisation, it is humbling to witness the undeniable resilience we possess as a human family; as a community, as individuals and as interpreters. The number of times that we fall, rise and dust off is nothing short of phenomenal.