I was ten years old when I started to translate Romani to English and I still carry on doing it to date. As a simultaneous and consecutive Romani interpreter I counted the meetings up to 350 when I realised that I spent two years of my life at conferences away from home in Strasbourg and Brussels primarily and then I gave up counting them. Romani translation to English back in 1989 was as rare as translating an alien language into any human language. I remember the Roma families that would come to my dad and ‘borrowed’ me for a few hours to help them sort out a washing machine at the local council of Zweibrucken, Germany where we were asylum seekers right after the fall of the Berlin wall (which actually happened on my birthday) in 1989.
I am very grateful to my parents for teaching me Romani Gypsy language and ‘rromanipe’ with the thousands of unwritten cultural rules and values that helped Roma people survive since our ancestors were enslaved and persecuted in the North of India a thousand years ago. Very few people know that we never fought a war, that our history is not merely about persecution or discrimination but slavery. Very few know that the word ‘Gypsy’ meant slave in Romania where ‘Gypsy laws’ i.e. slave laws were only abolished after 500 years in the second half of the 19th century.
‘Rromanipe’ gives me a very different perception of people and situations and helps me work hard through challenges while keeping it fun at the same time. If there was one thing to teach aliens about Roma culture, then that would be to smile first, smile second and smile last as well. Just keep smiling through the day, wherever you go, just keep smiling. Smile keeps you protected, and you attract positivity. It will work in most of the situations.
Throughout the years I learned to master most of the Romani dialects spoken all over the world. This unique skill has flown me to the very top of several domains. I was a personal adviser for two past presidents of the Worldbank and played a key role in negotiations with young Roma leaders. I have created the biggest Roma social network in the world and built the first global Roma brand online in the history of Roma. The visibility of my skills increased, and I ended up as a personal adviser to Neelie Kroes, former Vice President (VP) of the European Commission in charge of the Digital Agenda. Neelie Kroes agreed not to mention me by name, only the points I made and Hungary was battered by most media outlets on the day. In Hungary everyone was wondering who Neelie Kroes was talking about. I copy the relevant bits from her speech (read the full speech here): https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/SPEECH_12_80
“I myself have talked with people from Hungary – only the other day, for example, to a very talented web entrepreneur, one of my “young advisers” on digital matters.
And the picture he painted is deeply troubling.
For example, he tells of a country where discrimination against minorities is rife, and getting worse.
He tells me people from minorities are discriminated against when they seek employment; he speaks of allegations that the police are under instructions to “monitor” minorities; that racist discourse is becoming more open and more accepted, and that some even live in fear of violent attacks.
This particular person, himself from the Roma community, is seriously considering leaving the country.
Yes, I am that particular person and yes that is exactly when I left Hungary and moved to the U.K. permanently.
Why Juice Vamosi and why not Gyula Vamosi?
Shortly after I moved to the U.K. I started using ‘Juice’ as my first name instead of ‘Gyula’ in formal correspondence as well. Over the last three decades it has only occurred to me in England that I got recruited consistently to translate at gynaecological operations or for female Roma in vulnerable situations. To avoid the rather inconvenient situations I decided to stick with Juice. ‘Gyusz’ and ‘Gyuszi’ (pronounced as Juice) are what friends and family have been calling me since I was born, they are the short forms of ‘Gyula’ in Hungarian.
Where am I from?
If I say I am from Pecs, South West Hungary it won’t take anyone really close to where I am really from. I grew up in a poor Roma (Gypsy) community in Southern Hungary. I was the first of my extended family to graduate from high school, and the first in my community to earn a university degree. I live in Oldham, Greater Manchester with my family for seven years.