Interpreting and Translation
Building bridges through fast, precise, and intentional interpreting and translation
Picture by Lisette Morales
Picture by Lisette Morales
In the Taíno language, Guani means hummingbird. In Nahuátl, Tenoli means bridge. I chose this name because I see my craft as a bridge connecting people and cultures through language, and I always strive to balance speed, precision and intention when interpreting and translating. I see this work as my life's passion and purpose, and I am deeply committed intellectually with the science and art of translation and interpreting. I am also a fervent advocate of language justice as a human right-- the right to express ourselves in the language(s) or communication mode that is most comfortable and the one that we feel most free in to participate fully, listen, understand, dialogue, question, resist, propose, transform, build, and dream. I see language as an intimate part of our history and identity. Language Justice, therefore, affirms a commitment to creating spaces of belonging and transformation.
I have 20 years of professional experience interpreting and translating English to Spanish and Spanish to English (and more recently to and from Portuguese, as well). In the last 14 years, I have also led skill-building workshops and trainings for community, education, and social justice interpreters.
My training began working alongside the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a worker-based human rights organization internationally recognized for its achievements in fighting human trafficking and gender-based violence at work. But I have been interpreting and translating for family and friends from a very young age. In 2018, I completed the 40-hour The Community Interpreter® Training. In 2023, I completed a Master's degree in Spanish Translation and Interpreting from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. I also hold a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame with one semester completed at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil.
I have interpreted for farmworkers, torture survivors, labor/human rights/immigrant/lgbtq/environmental justice/social justice activists, parents, special education specialists, school administrators, elected officials, actors/celebrities and more. My translation work includes: legal, medical and educational documents; subtitles for documentaries; curricula and toolkits related to leadership development, climate change, environmental justice, anti-racism, labor rights, housing rights, community land trusts, community safety, sexual violence/harassment, food justice/sovereignty, and many other topics; policy platforms; interview transcriptions; children’s books; advertisement/marketing materials (for colleges, transportation agencies, etc.).
Over the last 8 years I have also worked full-time as a District Translator and Interpreter for the Newport-Mesa Unified School District in the Special Education department. In this role, I have also been involved with the Orange County Department of Education Multilingual Consortium and with the recently formed American Association of Interpreters and Translators in Education (AAITE).
Lastly, I am also a mother, a cultural worker, birth worker, dancer and musician. I integrate all parts of me in my work as a bridge-builder.
(Site photos by Lisette Morales, Marley Spencer Monacello,
Travis J. McConnell, Sandra Ledesma and Karissa Raya)
You can count on Guani Tenoli Interpreting and Translation to not only meet, but exceed all your needs and requests with professionalism, commitment and grace. Learn more about the services I provide below, and let me know if you’d like to learn more about a specific offering.
Simultaneous and Consecutive Interpretation
With experience in a broad range of settings
Over the years I have interpreted in a very broad range of settings and circumstances-- from major rallies and events with hundreds of participants to negotiations with corporate executives and special education meetings. I am equally competent in Simultaneous and Consecutive. I strive to not only convey the message with accuracy but also the tone, style, and emotion from the speaker.
I have experience in conference interpreting as well as coordinating interpretation with multiple interpreters to create effective multilingual spaces that promote language justice and access. I collaborate and uplift other interpreters in group/partner assignments and have experience with coordinating interpreting teams for large, multilingual events.
The year 2020 led me into the world of Remote Simultaneous Interpreting (RSI) and this has given me the opportunity to now interpret for organizations across the country, as well as from other countries.
Attention to detail and communicative intent
From children's books to legal documents with complex terminology, I have ample experience in different types of documents and formats. Whenever I start a new project, I ask my clients as many questions as possible to gain insight about the specific audience and the purpose and goals behind the text. My translations take into account decisions related to culture and gender to ensure that the message is rendered with the author(s)' intentions and vision. My goal is that when someone reads the translated text it does not appear to be a translation because it flows naturally with the rules and structure of the target language, while remaining loyal to the original and its communicative intent.
Promoting Language Justice
Because I became an interpreter and translator out of my family's and community's necessity, initially I did not have any formal training. As I eagerly searched for resources, I came across curricula and started to develop my own training based on my own experiences and the research and skill-building techniques available. I have helped train community interpreters in Orange County, CA and Immokalee, Florida. I recently completed my Master's degree and I am excited to expand my offerings in this area and share all that I learned about this wonderful art!
More recently, I have also been providing consulting services on Language Justice to support organizations and institutions to be more intentional about creating spaces of belonging and transformation.
"Melody’s translation and interpretation is precise and eloquent. And even more importantly, she has the cultural background and skills to make language accessible to any audience. She is a fast learner and memorizes long and complex phrases, while also having a very positive presence and work ethic."
Greg Asbed, Co-Founder, Coalition of Immokalee Workers
"Melody was a joy to work with. She is very reliable and completed translations quickly and efficiently which was essential to meeting the demands of a presidential campaign. She had a good sense of when to use more formal or less formal language and was always very thorough with her work. Melody's work helped us reach communities all across the Battleground States. I highly recommend Melody and would be excited to partner with her again in the future."
Jen Kim, Deputy National Organizing Director, Biden for President
"Melody approaches her work from the heart, and as a client, you tangibly experience it. Melody is thorough from start to finish, clear and reliable with her availability and in creating shared expectations. She is a champion for language justice, and will support you to be intentional in your design. I’ve worked with Melody for both translation and interpretation across topics like community organizing, policy advocacy, health equity and economic justice. She is detailed in her work, and brings her experience rooted in bridge-building and social justice to provide the highest quality translation and interpretation I know."
Ana Urzúa, Cooperacción
"When the pandemic hit, Melody stepped up to join our rapid mobilization to build a health equity-focused COVID-19 response in Orange County, California. She trained our team on the concept of language justice and performed the translation and interpretation services for our university’s month-long health equity contact tracing workshop series. Her skill and rapid integration into an extremely compressed production schedule enabled us to train hundreds of low-income residents of Santa Ana and Anaheim to lead community-driven COVID-19 response in some of the hardest hit municipalities in our county. Through Melody’s example, the training team—comprised of university faculty, staff, students, and community collaborators—learned more strategies to ensure that our collaborations embody the values that underlie the vision of the world we are working to create."
Abigail Reyes, Director, UCI Community Resilience Projects
"Melody is the first person I call when I need interpretation for meetings and large events as her ability to hone the art and the science of this craft is a lovely sight. She approaches this work with care and flexibility and a rigorous attention to nuance and body language to convey the essence of the message. She demonstrates that her role as interpreter is not just to convey words but also to be a cultural bridge and interrupt English dominance by ensuring the room can engage in co-creating a multi-lingual space by having clear agreements. Our parents and community members often rave about their experience of her interpretation “she never skips a beat and I never feel lost.”
Melody has a graceful and inviting presence, which is important for a bridge worker. She is punctual and professional and makes sure that our equipment is taken care of and in the same condition, she receives it. Her ability to interpret simultaneously is solid and my favorite to witness is her skill and ease when she is interpreting a passionate speech consecutively."
Esperanza V. Martinez, Parent and Community Organizer
United Teachers of Los Angeles
"Melody Gonzalez is a gifted wordsmith, she arrives with respect for and experience with the cultural differences inherent in languages. She has worked with commitment and inspiration to honor the message and the medium of every project we have collaborated on. This most challenging and human of skills, authentic communication -translation and interpretation, is demonstrated in all of Melody Gonzalez’s work. I am grateful for her guidance and knowledge sharing. As a published, and nationally awarded author I can say wholeheartedly Melody’s translation from initial questions to follow up has made me a more effective writer (and I dare to say a better person)! I recommend her to everyone, at every stage of your process!"
Youme Nguyen Ly, writer and illustrator
I first met Melody Gonzalez in Immokalee, Florida--home of the Movement for Fair Food-- where I participated in her Language Justice Workshop. Through her sage-like energy and wise facilitation, she opened up a sacred space for us to share our personal experiences--both empowering and disempowering--having to do with how we’ve interacted with languages and communication in our daily lives. She inspired us to see the power of language from a whole new lens that brought a sense of wholeness and purpose to our understanding of language accessibility. She motivated us as we helped heal one another. She empowered us to see the role of interpretation and translation (both common practices for the organizers who shared that space) as a fully embodied practice of love. She encouraged us to apply our new knowledge from the workshop right away through fun and dynamic breakout sessions in which we practiced interpreting simultaneously and consecutively for farmworker leaders. We actively enjoyed it and grew as she helped us to be precise--not only in our words--but also in the way we mirror the tone of voice, facial expressions, and body movements to accurately demonstrate the message that the speaker is sharing.
When Melody speaks, her words are impeccable. Her words flow harmoniously like a beautiful song. Even when she is interpreting in fast-paced settings, like in big actions with large crowds, her words flow with impressive accuracy. Melody’s work as an interpreter and facilitator has motivated me to see that making language accessible to others is always an act of love that can lead to community transformation. I constantly pull from the values that Melo shared with us during her workshop in my daily walk and work as an educator. Melody’s work flows from deep within her being. She teaches us to find meaning in the work of making language accessible to others while motivating us to return to each other and ourselves from a place of hope and to approach this work from a place of groundedness.
Whether she is speaking, interpreting, or facilitating workshops, Melody emanates power and strength as she always lights up a room with her contagious love and peace. Rooted in her lifelong commitment to building for justice and peace from the inside-out, Melody’s faithful presence in her communities is a real gift. I am so grateful for her work and I am yet to meet a human who speaks as intentionally and from the heart as she does.