Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bisy at Biwako (Near Kyoto)

Day One in My Room at the Japan Intercultural Academy of Municipalities: Getting Down to Business

Our Kansai trip was made possible by my CLAIR sponsored Translation and Interpretation Course. Like the Linguistics and Pedagogy Course I took last year, it had a one week seminar component. I have said it before, but the JET Programme is probably the best scholarship program out there if you already have a degree and you want to learn Japanese. My course expenses were fully covered by CLAIR and my attendance at the seminar was treated as a business trip by my supervisors. Since we used my wife's air miles we were able to move the whole family down to the Kansai area for the week and still come out a few hundred dollars on top in our budget.

The Bilingual Panel Discussion on the Last Day, Complete with Role-playing Panelists and Interpreters

I am afraid that I wasn't prepared for the course. For one thing, I haven't been doing any of the coursework. For another thing, it was a lot more intensive than I expected. The instructors were all very high-level professional interpreters and the head instructor was a venerable veteran who, in his time, interpreted for sundry world leaders, including Nelson Mandela as well as various U.S. presidents and Japanese prime ministers. Added to this, I was put to shame by other JETs who clearly had a better grasp of Japanese kanji and vocabulary even though they have only studied Japanese for a few years. All-in-all it was a very humbling week, and I didn't even accomplish my main goals of catching up on coursework or preparing for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test that happened on the weekend. Instead, I worked on horrifically difficult vocabulary lists and fiddled around trying to install and enable various Japanese related software programs on Ubuntu . . . oh, and worked on coursework for seminary, too.

Still Working Hard at the End of the Week