Imagine a vocation in which the balance of life or perhaps even the course of history rests in the choices of one individual, a professional who must be considered trustworthy above all else. She holds in her hands the destiny of both the helpless and the powerful as they temporarily give over control of their words, a responsibility she diligently safeguards. Her mind is an instrument honed to negotiate linguistic and cultural barriers with a range of strategies as diverse as those used by an astute military commander in the theater of war. Those who trust in her are rewarded with reach and clarity in communication that would otherwise require years of dedicated study and practice. She can do what no computer can do, translating true meaning rather than using simple word-for-word substitution. Across cultures, she senses nuances in tone and mood that are lost on people in general. In a world of blurred borders and shifting populations she is a conduit of understanding and, in many cases, a point of access to meaningful medical care, legal protection, and civil rights. She is a professional interpreter and she has a noble heritage that reaches back thousands of years.