Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Laura Burian


I graduated from the Chinese T&I program at MIIS in 1995Prior to coming back to MIIS to teach in the year 2000, I worked as an in-house translator, interpreter, and legal assistant in the Beijing office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, and freelanced as both a translator and interpreter in the US, mainland China, and Taiwan.

I am still active in my freelance work, primarily as an interpreter. My private sector clients are in a variety of fieldsincluding law, medicine, mobile internet, venture capital, new energyoil & gas, paleontology, zoology, human rights, and educationamong others. In my work for US government clients (including the White House, the US Embassy in Beijing, the Departments of State, Energy, Defense, Commerce, etc.), I have been lucky enough to work behind the scenes for a number of high-level meetings between the US and PRC. As proof, my picture can be found in a book by former Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji, and I have been caught on film interpreting for former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, and First Lady Michelle Obama, among others.

As much as I enjoy my work as a translator and interpreter, my first love is teaching, for I learn more from my students than they could ever imagine. I hold my students to very high standards not just as aspiring translators and interpreters, but also as collaborators in their growth and learning at MIIS and beyond. I was honored to be granted the Outstanding Teacher of the Year award in 2004, the Allen Griffiths Excellence in Teaching Award in 2005, and the Dr. Leslie Eliason Teacher of Excellence Award in 2009.

I enjoy sharing my experience while teaching interpretation skills not only here at MIIS, but also as a guest lecturer in conferences, workshops, and universities in the US and internationally. One of my talks that has received a lot of attention is a TEDx talk given here at MIIS with my colleague Prof. Barry Olsen and a few of our students in the Practicum in Interpretation – click here to view.  I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with an incredible group of colleagues and students here at MIIS, and also feel privileged to have a front-row seat as my students grow and blossom into accomplished professionals.


Simultaneous and consecutive interpretation of Chinese and English, pedagogy for teaching simultaneous and consecutive interpretation.


- MA, Translation and Interpretation, Monterey Institute of International Studies
- BA, Comparative Area Studies, Duke University
- Study abroad, National Taiwan Normal University, Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Nanjing University

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