Tribute to storyteller, interpreter and translator, Rodica Pamphilon

Storyteller Michael Williams shares his memories of his friend Rodica Pamphilon.

It is with a very heavy heart that I pay tribute to a dear friend and storytelling colleague, Rodica Pamphilon, who died in a car accident, near Edinburgh, on Friday 5 August 2016.

Rodica was born in Romania, where she worked as an English teacher. She came to Scotland about thirteen years ago in her early 30s to do a Masters degree in Applied Linguistics. Upon graduation, she taught in a special needs school with pupils with behavioural and emotional difficulties. It was during this period that she discovered how much the young people she worked with enjoyed hearing stories.

Subsequently, she began to explore storytelling through workshops at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. Her interest in story was further developed through her next job as a qualified public-service interpreter and translator for Romanian people in Scotland, a task she’d carried out for nearly ten years. Her work took her into hospitals, police stations, courts, social work departments, prisons and other places throughout Scotland, listening to people’s stories and helping them share them. She helped others find their voice and be heard.

While working as an interpreter and translator, Rodica also found an outlet for her storytelling interests through a more spiritual quest. She and her husband Joe embarked on a study of shamanic healing. Upon her completion of the course, Rodica offered shamanic healing to clients, work which she told me offered her opportunities to delve deeply into the world of story. Her yearning for story was intensified later by a “Vision Quest”, which she undertook in the Highlands. For four days and nights she fasted alone in the wilderness in what she described as an “incredible experience” during which she felt called to “the healing side of telling or sharing stories”.

In October 2013, Rodica contacted me to talk about how she might develop her calling further. I suggested she join my Story Coaching group. Although nervous, Rodica took the risk and joined us, eager to learn and contribute. I could not have asked for a more curious and willing participant. Rodica was a keen observer and listener, her contributions, always positive and constructive, were eagerly awaited by the others. She once said to me that joining the group was like “coming home”, a place where she could share both her personal stories and the folktales she loved, a safe space where she could develop her voice and confidence. She was an integral part of our storytelling family and we will miss her dearly.

Our hearts go out to her husband Joe, her family, and her many friends both here in Scotland and in her native Romania.

Michael Williams