Note from Uncle Dale: The Mentor’s Creed

If you have graduated from the Interpreter Prep Program I oversee you know the phrase “once a student always a student.” In short it does not matter how long ago you graduated, the program and I are here for you. Questions? Call. Prepping to certify? Come to the lab, I’m here every Friday. Most important, if you need to talk to me, call or text. Anytime. Day or night.

I was giving midterms today when I got the text. The “student” in question graduated… years ago. Many years ago.

The text said, “can I call you? I have a situation and I may cry.”

I had 15 minutes between midterms. So I texted back, “of course you can.”

My phone rang moments later.

I stepped out to a more private location and listened. It was indeed a situation.

It had it all:





Responsibility. That kind of situation.

My “student” wanted advice and, more to the point, a way out or at least a way not to have to pick up the other end of the stick.

I started by acknowledging how hard the situation was mainly because it was the unforeseen consequence of accepting any role with responsibility.

Let me pause and state for the record that no one in the situation was wrong or bad or illegal, immoral, or fattening. It was however a serious learning experience. So much so that I had to pull out the The Mentor’s creed.

I could fix this problem for you, but I won’t.

I will however support you in every way while you fix it.

That is one of the most important lessons a mentor can teach; learn how to not need me.

As an instructor I have one semester to teach a course called Simultaneous Interpreting or Consecutive Interpreting or to teach how to analyze ASL for meaning and then state that meaning in hearing vocal terms.

One semester for each of those vast concepts.

That is not nearly enough time.

In one semester I can review the skills and provide opportunities to try to apply those skills in a safe environment. But the vital component in my teaching philosophy is that I must teach my students how to discuss and critique their own work so they can continue the learning process after I am gone.

Learn how to learn without me. The most successful teachers and mentors make themselves unnecessary.

I do not wish to be Achilles, I wish to be Pheonix. I don’t want to be Hercules, I want to be Chiron (psst Disney replaced Chiron with Philoctetes because it sounded funnier to call him Phil. And made him a satyr instead of a centaur because… who knows why?) I want to be the teacher of heros (and this “student” meets that definition).

To do that I must teach only one thing. I must teach how to learn.

I could fix this for you, but I won’t.

I will, however, walk the whole long road with you while you fix it yourself.

The mentors creed.

Rule 383

Things Uncle Dale did that you probably should not (on-going):

Let me get this straight. You’re not offering to pay me for the convention, you’re saying I get in free to any events that I interpret? I get to work in exchange for being there.

Wow. Let me unpack your central flawed assumption. In essence you’re just a guy in a bar saying to an attractive woman, “But I’m offering you the chance to have sex with me for free.”