An Interview with the Founders of the Endless Possibilities Talks

You gotta love the people behind the new Endless Possibilities Talks. They’re clever, they’re social media-savvy, and they’re bursting with enthusiasm. And most importantly, they’re full of great ideas.

This became clear to me the other day when I contacted them about doing an interview for my blog. What I had in mind was an old-fashioned, written Q&A. You know the kind: I send you the questions, you send me the answers, I publish them, all very 20th century. They quickly came back to me with the proposal that we run the interview using the new Hangout on Air format that has made the Endless Possibilities Talks, or EPT as it is now known, such a hit on Google+ (more on that in a bit). What a brainwave: do the interview and feature the technology all at once! Like I said, these guys are good.

Anyway, it took me all of three seconds to sign up to the plan. The result is what you have before you today: a video of my interview with EPT founders Al Navas, Gerda Prato-Espejo and Esther Navarro-Hall.

Now, if you have no idea what the Endless Possibilities Talks are, have never heard of Google+ or its hangouts, and are asking yourself right now what all this could have to do with my blog’s theme of interpreting, have no fear. It will all be explained in the interview. Just click away and enjoy …

Below is the list of questions I asked Al, Esther and Gerda. I’ve added the time codes so that you can skip ahead to the bits that interest you the most, if you like (although a lot of great stuff came up between the questions, so if you have the time, I’d encourage you to watch the whole interview from start to finish). Links to the resources mentioned in replies are also included below.

1) The EPT Story

0:00 to 1:52 Introductions

1:53 The question we should start with is the most basic question of all. I want you to assume that I have never heard of the Endless Possibilities Talks. Could you just tell me in a few words what exactly these talks are?

3:10 I’m sure the question everybody wants to hear the answer to now is: how did you come up with this truly inspired idea of having online video chats for interpreters and translators around the world?

Here’s the link to #Tratuimad ha cumplido un año, the post by @aidagda that Gerda mentions in the reply to this question.

6:17 In a minute we’re going to be looking at the more practical aspects of Google+ and how it all happens and how it works, but I do want to ask another question first, and that is: who came up with the fantastic name “Endless Possibilities”? Let’s hear about that.

8:20 I know you’ve already said a little bit about who the initiative is targeted at, but I’d like you to tell me specifically who you’re trying to reach out to.

11:08 And what about the response? Because you seem to have a very broad target audience and it is a young initiative. So what has happened so far? Have people been picking up on it, maybe people you hadn’t expected to take into the initiative? What’s been happening?

In her reply to the question, Esther refers to the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

13:43 I’d like to thank you for having had that initial idea that is getting the ball rolling and that is getting people thinking about the idea of video chats and how they can serve the interpreting community.

In his next comment, Al refers to the TEDTalk by Daria Musk – You Move Me.

2) Practical Matters

16:22 Let’s come down from the clouds for a moment and get really practical. I want you to tell our viewers exactly how one can go about doing all of this. Because it all sounds very interesting, but it is new, and it’s going to be very new to a lot of people. So we need to get to the practical bits so that people can learn how they can get on board.

16:34 What if somebody came up to you and said, “I’ve heard a lot about these talks, and people are saying that it’s really interesting for interpreters, but I want to learn more about how it works”.  What is the first thing you would say to them?

17:19 to 23:56 offers a detailed tour of the Endless Possibilities Talks blog, including an explanation of its features: links to Peter McDermott’s Basics of Google+ and Google+ Hangout how-to videos, the EPT Google+ page, the Hangout Calendar, the Hangout School, the survey form, and the world time clock.

There is also reference to the Hangout FAQs page on the Judiciary Interpreter blog, which includes a link to the downloadable document “Hangout Dos and Don’ts”.

24:12 I see that the main page, where you gather together all of this information, is the blog site. I find it very useful that you’ve grouped together all of the information on a page that’s outside of Google+. This means that people who are interested, but not too sure about Google+ yet, can go into that site and explore and read and click on the links and watch the videos etc., just to get an idea of how it’s supposed to work. That’s really great. Also, I think that many people – probably, one would hope, my readers as well – would know what a blog is and will know what to do with a blog. They won’t consider it to be strange new technology. It’s a friendly format. That’s really good, don’t you agree?

25:56 It’s also good that you’ve got a dedicated Twitter feed (@EPTupdates) just for the EPT updates. I’m assuming that anyone who wants to know more about upcoming scheduled events or things that you’re planning can just follow your Twitter feed and get information from that, is that right?

27:18 Maybe I could ask you a question now about the scheduling. What comes when? What sort of block should people who want to follow EPT be setting aside in their week if they want to be part of the initiative?

28:22 Could you give me an idea of what a weekly or monthly schedule of EPT talks might look like?

Al speaks here of Esther’s initial “Journeys” talk as well as the informal talks held on Sundays called Interpreters and Translators on Air. Esther explains the daily Hangout Schools and the Special Edition Hangouts.

31:40 I do have one practical question, before we go too much further, and that is: do you have to have a profile on Google+ in order to take part in these things?

33:40 Have you had any sort of technical hiccups so far? Any problems with the technology?

35:00 You seem to have a bit of a symbiotic relationship with Google at this point, where they’re helping you by providing this new platform, but if I’m not mistaken, you’re also helping them by giving feedback on the technology, is that right?

36:34 I think maybe the fact that Hangouts on Air are such a new technology means that you might still be getting some confusion among even the more tech-savvy among us about the difference between a regular hangout and a Hangout on Air. Could you just explain that quickly?

38:50 And obviously the added feature that Hangouts on Air have is that they can be followed in a stream, is that right? People can comment under the Hangout on Air, even if they’re not part of the video chat, right?

Al refers here to a Youtube widget. This is what it looks like:

40:00 After all of these questions, I think we’re more or less clear on how the practical side of things should work. I have to that even though I had already participated in one of the chats, I was still not entirely clear on how it all fit together. So I’m very pleased that you were able to clarify that for me – and obviously for all of the viewers as well.

40:27 Perhaps I could just wrap up with a couple of more general questions. I need to know how you organise what seems to be a huge amount of behind-the-scenes work in order to keep these Endless Possibilities Talks going?

3) What’s Next?

43:54 Final question for all of you: I want you to tell me – and here I want to hear from each of you briefly, as well – What does the future hold for the Endless Possiblities Talks? Where do you see EPT, where do you see yourselves, a year from now?


Esther M. Navarro-Hall, originally from Mexico, holds a Master of Arts in Conference Interpretation (MIIS), Federal Court Certification, and California Certification as a Court and Medical Interpreter. She has also received U.S. State Department and ATA (E>S) certifications. She has provided training for interpreters, translators, interpreter trainers, law enforcement, the military, various government agencies and medical and courthouse personnel. Ms. Navarro-Hall has worked as a Freelance Interpreter in the conference, corporate, court, medical and community fields for the past 26 years. She is an Adjunct Professor at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, a Graduate School of Middlebury College, teaching Conference Interpreting (E>S and F>S) and Court Interpreting (E>S). Twitter handle: @MmeInterpreter.

Gerda Prato-Espejo has been a Massachusetts Certified Court Interpreter since 2004. She has also worked at the Massachusetts Department of Revenue and the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health. Gerda was born in Caracas, Venezuela and emigrated to the U.S. in 1991. She has a B.S. in Occupational Therapy from Colegio Universitario de Rehabilitación May Hamilton in Caracas, Venezuela and studied ESL at the University of Massachusetts. Twitter handle: @gerdabilingual.

Al Navas is a freelance interpreter in Missouri, USA, and is working toward Certification as a Court Interpreter. He has provided interpreting services since 2005 to law enforcement and community groups in NW Missouri. Al was born in Colombia, South America, and emigrated to the U.S. in 1963. He studied polymer chemistry at the University of California at Riverside, graduated with Honors, and worked for a major multi-national company in both coasts in the U.S. for several years. On assignment overseas, he worked for 22 years as a Corrosion Engineer in oil and gas exploration and production in the largest fields in the Middle East. Al publishes the Endless Possibilities blog on behalf of the team. Twitter handles: @JudiciaryTerp for his blog (The Judiciary Interpreter) and @EPTupdates on behalf of the Endless Possibilities Talks initiative.


8 thoughts on “An Interview with the Founders of the Endless Possibilities Talks

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  5. Very interesting blog entry.. I’ve been listening very carefully, but I guess I have to pay more attention to all the practical stuff due to my lack of experience with G+ 🙂

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