Interpreting Experience Level Up!

The Oki Island GeoPark is trying to become a member of the UNESCO Global Geopark Network.  As the last step of the process, site inspectors from the Global GeoPark Network must come and assess the islands.  This assessment determines whether or not the Oki Islands become a World Geopark…and this was my first shot at interpreting.  Talk about pressure.  Other than interpreting Japanese TV into English for Khoa and interpreting for him at parties, I don’t have any experience.  I can interpret daily conversation fine, but talking about 4-year cycle crop rotation and the outer rim of a composite volcanic crater is another story.  Listening to someone talk about those subjects, recognizing the words in Japanese, and relaying the information in English is something entirely different.  So I studied and I practiced and I studied some more.  I was feeling pretty confident after a month of studying new science words in Japanese and listening to people from Chibu talk about the island.  And then the big day came…          

I went into the town hall about 30 minutes before the surveyors where to arrive in Chibu and I was told that the plans had changed because of the weather and we would now be going to a completely different part of the island.  I’d like to say that I stayed cool and said, “Ain’t no thang guys, I got this.”  But no, I panicked.  I was almost in tears at how terrified I was of going into my first interpreting job, unprepared and completely oblivious to the new information about the many rock formations and obscure geology terms (in Japanese) that would soon be thrown my way (it doesn’t help that leading up to the inspection, it seemed like every other person I saw in Chibu was telling me to gambatte and do a good job for Chibu).  I tried my best to appear to not be in a state of complete fear, but I don’t think I was fooling anyone.  I’m not sure if the Chibu Geopark people have so much confidence in me that they thought I could handle the new information in Japanese…or that they don’t realize just how difficult operating in two languages is.  I’m positive it’s the latter.

Sekiheki (the Red Cliffs)
Our first (and unexpected) stop thanks to a sudden change in the schedule.

So the day came and went, the surveyors, one from Malaysia and one from Norway, seemed to enjoy their trip, and I was able to understand most of what was being said in Japanese.  Luckily, there were two other interpreters there (who are both much better than I am).  They were able to help out when I wasn’t exactly sure what was being said.  The surveyors’ visit to Chibu was extended by one hour because of the schedule change, but despite that, I think I did well.  Leading up to the visit, I was so nervous and only feeling so-so confident.  However, when the surveyors arrived, I somehow magically felt almost overly confident and was able to enjoy myself. 

The Chibu guides and the Global Geoparks Network site inspectors
The three interpreters.
The two girls had so much more work than I did, guiding and interpreting for the site inspectors on the other three Oki Islands as well as on the mainland.

The GeoPark site inspection was a very stressful, fun, and interesting experience and I was very glad to be apart of it.  Now that it’s over, I wouldn’t mind doing interpreting again…just not for a while, I can’t take that much stress again 😛  Now for a relaxing three-day weekend…


3 thoughts on “Interpreting Experience Level Up!

  1. horimasa July 14, 2012 / 8:21 am

    Reblogged this on Japan Rebloged and commented:
    Oki no Shima, Shimane. The author works as a Japanese-English interpretor for inspectors. Those activities is not known widely in Japan. Interesting article.

  2. tokyobling July 18, 2012 / 9:33 pm

    Great work! I would never dare to interpret geology…! (^-^;)

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