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January 4, 2005

Woman to interpret at Bush's inauguration

From: Sunbury Daily Item, PA - Jan 4, 2005

By Karen Blackledge
The Daily Item

BLOOMSBURG — A Bloomsburg woman will bring to the public the "sounds" of the inaugural speech of President George W. Bush.

Marybeth Wurster, a staff interpreter for the deaf and hard of hearing at Bloomsburg University, was asked to serve as an interpreter for the Jan. 20 inauguration.

"I'm not 100 percent sure what all is involved," said Wurster, who travels Jan. 19 for a meeting in Washington, D.C., with Timothy Snyder, the interpreter coordinator at the Capitol. He is a former colleague of Wurster's, having worked with her in sign language interpretation at the Internal Revenue Service.

"I left the IRS to freelance, and he accepted a position at the Capitol. I bumped into him at a conference in Annapolis in November. A week later, he called me and asked if I was interested in doing the inauguration," Wurster said.

She expects to be stationed on the steps of the Capitol.

"I hope it's a nice January day," said Wurster, who will be one of eight interpreters. "There will be four teams of two."

She will be paid for her efforts. "I hope I break even with the trips to Washington and the hotel," she said. Accompanying her will be her mother, Louise Bergen of Williamsport, and her sons, Tom, 12, and Andrew, 10.

"Hopefully, this will be something that they will always remember," she said.

"I'm very excited and very honored to witness such a historic event," she said.

She expects her mother and sons to be able to stand along the parade route and is hoping they can be close enough to see the president.

She will go to Washington a week before the inauguration for security clearances, fingerprinting and photographing.

This isn't her first time doing interpretation in the Beltway. She served as a sign language interpreter for the Southern states ball when former President Bill Clinton first took office in 1993.

"He arrived around midnight, stayed for about 20 minutes and was gone," she said.

She got to meet the Clintons briefly.

She did interpreting for the entertainment at the ball including singer Charlie Pride and the rock group Toad the Wet Sprocket. She served as a volunteer for the ball, having been contacted by the agency Sign Language Associates of Silver Spring, Md. At that time, she was living in Virginia.

Wurster did interpreting during the summer visit to Bloomsburg University of Vice President Dick Cheney.

She does sign language interpretation at Bloomsburg University such as for reading and disability inclusion conferences and a Sept. 11 memorial service.

At the university, she coordinates interpreters and interprets during events, working with two other staff interpreters.

She does interpretation for a deaf faculty member. "I interpret for her classes and office hours," she said.

Originally from Williamsport, she has a degree in sign language interpretation from Bloomsburg University.

She was influenced by a deaf professor at Bloomsburg. "I took a sign language class on a whim. I was one of the first students to get a degree in the interpreting major program," she said.

Sign language is recognized as a separate language. "It's mostly gestures, signs and lots of facial expression — it's a visual language," she said.

One of her best jobs was the Olympic Committee's Athletes of the Year Awards in 1988 where she met Greg Louganis, Bonnie Blair and other athletes.

"I did a Red Cross convention in Richmond, Va., with Walter Cronkite," she said.

In Fredericksburg, Va., she worked with a deaf couple during Lamaze classes and was asked to be present during the delivery of their baby.

She specializes in the court system, including a recent freelance job in Scranton. "I do civil and criminal — any party in court that could be a witness, a family member, a parent of an underage child, a defendant or a complainant," she said.

"I learn new things every day and have wonderful opportunities to be involved in such events as a presidential inauguration. I learn a lot and meet new people every day," she said.

Copyright © 2003 The Daily Item Publishing Company