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RIS Alumna Chosen to Be the Pope’s Translator!

–An Interview with K. Nilobol (Nicky) Pimdee (arranged by K. Kristina Sethaputra)–

Ruamrudee International School Bangkok

How were you selected for this auspicious translation project?
There are only a few people in the Ministry, about 12, who can speak Spanish. These people were contacted privately to see if they were interested and told that there was a test that the applicants would have to go through. Later, someone proposed my name to the Permanent Secretary, and they asked me to do the test. I got it, along with another woman from the Thai Embassy in Mexico and two other substitutes as backups in case something went wrong. 

Who else are you translating for?
Apart from His Holiness Pope Francis with His Majesty the King, it was His Holiness with the Prime Minister, and I also translated in the booth during the meeting with the cabinet members and the diplomatic core with His Holiness at the government house. And also on the way back, sending off His Holiness, I translated for the people who were sending him off, such as the deputy prime minister, the minister of foreign affairs, the general manager of Thai Airways, just to name a few. 

Ruamrudee International School Bangkok

I understand you were flown in from Chile for this job. What is your current position there?
I’m a counselor at the Royal Thai Embassy in Santiago. The Thai Ministry flew me back to Thailand for this job. 

Do you have any recommendations for students who would like to pursue a similar career?
Try to study a language that Thai people don’t use too much, and then you’ll become one of the “chosen ones.” [laughs]

What do you love most about your job?
I get to travel around a lot, and I get to live and stay in countries that I never thought I would be living in. And the other part is that I get to meet incredible people, mostly politicians and high-ranking government officials, but also famous people as well.  

When were you at RIS?
From grade 3 until I graduated in 1994. 

What are some of your fondest memories of RIS?
Wow, there are a lot! But the best part about having gone to RIS is that I have made lifelong best friends. And even though we don’t see each other much because I travel a lot and work abroad a lot, whenever we get to meet, in Thailand or wherever, our friendships are still the same. [Love you all!]

What was it like spending time with His Holiness? 
Before I started I was very nervous, but when I met him, I was fine. He is such a warm-hearted person. You could feel his charisma, actually, and his warmth and love. He’s like a fatherly, grandfatherly figure who you feel comfortable with.  

Was there a special process to be able to fulfill this task?
[laughs] First of all, when I found out that I had to be the translator for HM the King, I had to study the Royal Thai words, the words that I would need to use when I translate for HM the King. Apart from that, I had to practice how to crawl and sit on the floor for a very long time!

Is there anything else you would like to share? 
It was really an honor and a privilege for me to have done this job. At first, I didn’t feel that way about it because I was scared that I might screw it up [laughs], but now I’m so happy that I’ve done it and that it came out well. So, if any of you want to do something like this, don’t back out. When your chance comes, just grab it!  

Thank you so much for your time, Khun Nicky!