My Thai language skills are pretty good considering that I have never lived in the country for more that three and a half months at a time. I can speak the main dialect and understand three different Thai dialects, the main one, the Northern (Phrae) dialect, and the Southern dialect. I can also understand some Lao and Cambodian people because the languages are similar.
I have been called upon to interpret a few times. I have done mostly volunteer work for family friends by going to the hospital for a circumcision and speaking to English classes at schools in Thailand. I had one paid opportunity for a family friend who had clients in Thailand come to visit the US. For me that was an enjoyable and easy opportunity because it was mostly conversational and just interpreting for the clients landmarks as we passed them.
This weekend, I am the substitute interpreter for a Buddhist monk who is going to be speaking about Buddhism near where a Buddhist temple is going to be built in Central Ohio. He is going to be speaking to students at a school. Now, schools and students, I am comfortable and have experience; Buddhism, not so much. I know enough about it to know that it is a way of life, not particularly a religion. My parents are Buddhist, and my mother is pretty religious, but she raised me on the basic tenet that if you do good, you will get good. Her belief is that all religion is good, so when I married a Catholic and have two children that I am raising Catholic, it is not a big deal.
I think that I am going to have to do a crash course of reading up on Buddhism sometime between now and Saturday!