(This article was translated in English by Kico Ueyama)
Green Innovator Academy (hereinafter referred to as GIA) was established in October 2021 to raise innovators who are willing to change the future for the better. Among various programs, guest speakers from overseas were invited in the first term, and international students joined in the second term. Therefore, “Simultaneous Interpretation” is indispensable for GIA.
We interviewed ISG Interpreters’ Team including Ryohei Onishi, who has fully supported GIA’s simultaneous interpretation.
Mr.Onishi: In the beginning, my American friend introduced Ms. Sakano to me, the co-founder of GIA. Since 2021, I have had opportunities to do simultaneous interpretation for one-off events and international guest speakers in the first term. Then in May 2022, I got a message from her, “We would like you to do interpretation in the second term” on Facebook Messenger. Simultaneous interpretation has been required almost every Saturday from the end of August to mid-December, so I could not handle it all by myself. Then I wanted help from my students in ISG, which will be explained later. This is how I organized the ISG simultaneous interpretation team.
Photo: Celebration party of GIA interpreters’ team! (Top left: the ISG symbol) from the top left: Ueyama, Onishi, Inoue, from the bottom left: Hayano, Toyonaga, M
Mr.Onishi: I have been an interpreter for 11 years, and I can tell the difficulty of GIA is outstanding. Especially, Mr. Naoto Kanehira from World Bank and Mr. Yudai Maeda, an energy analyst spoke particularly fast and condensed a lot of information. I still remember asking a staff member in a ZOOM chat to let them speak a little slowly as I was almost dying while interpreting.
M: I struggled to keep up with speakers’ intelligence through simultaneous interpretation. I realized that not only my interpreting skills but also my general and expert knowledge were insufficient. However, we tried our best to go beyond the limits of our ability as the students of GIA tackled challenging problems.
Mr.Toyonaga: I am currently an in-house interpreter. The interpretation at GIA is astoundingly difficult, which made me think, “I’m interpreting at GIA, so this in-house conference is not a big deal!” This shows how much GIA has made me grow as an interpreter.
Ms.Hayano: I felt the passion of all the students, staff members, and the guest speakers of GIA. Above all, I am delighted to play a part in delivering the passion to international participants.
Mr.Onishi: ISG stands for Interpretation Study Group. It was established in 2017, and many students have become in-house or freelance interpreters and translators. The lectures are held online in a small group, so both university students and businesspersons across Japan are learning interpretation on Zoom. The fee is about one-tenth compared with interpreting training schools, which is quite a reasonable price. In the future, I hope to develop ISG as an interpreting training institute comparable to major interpreting schools.
The important role of ISG is not only to provide interpretation services but also to create a career path for university students to be interpreters. Students with an interest in interpretation are shocked during job hunting to face the reality that no company hires interpreters as new graduates. Nothing has changed since 2010 when I was a new graduate.
But leaving students who have a good command of languages and love interpretation more than anything alone is not only a loss to their careers but also a loss to society today, as some interpretation agencies suffer from a shortage of interpreters. That is why I have offered interpretation jobs to university students, too. Fortunately, GIA requested us to do simultaneous interpretation of recorded videos this time. I could even give jobs to students who are not developed enough to do live simultaneous interpretation on the day of the event because, if the videos are pre-recorded, they can start over again and again to add simultaneous interpretation to the videos (Of course, I checked them). Ms. Inoue, a new graduate who tried interpreting for GIA said, “This is my first time working with Mr. Onishi, a professional interpreter and it was very stimulating.”
By working with professional interpreters, students can learn things they would not normally see, such as preparations for interpretation, receiving meeting materials from GIA, reading them, creating Japanese and English terminology, doing audio checks for Zoom simultaneous interpretation, and switching interpreting turns. These are extremely meaningful in that students can put their vague idea of interpretation into shape and in building up their careers.
ISG provides interpretation services, but we would like to work with clients who can share our vision of developing interpreters of the next generation. For example, every time I get jobs of public interpretation or Zoom interpretation, I ask clients if I can get the audio file of my interpretation. This is because I can use the recordings for training interpreters. I make the same request to interpretation agencies, although it sometimes causes inconveniences to them. But clients who can take time to do this are increasing little by little, fortunately. As GIA has given us the interpretation audio, my students and I listen to it again in lessons to learn which points they struggled with translating, and where the problems lied, such as vocabulary, knowledge, or explosiveness. Then, we make interpretation practice menu depending on their weaknesses to make a better performance next time.
Mr.Onishi: Yes, of course! By that time I’ll have more students and interpreters who can make a debut at GIA. ISG is highly efficient in that interpreters who know each other work together, on the other hand, half of the interpreters including me have children and we are sometimes unable to work suddenly because of children’s fever and so on, which I think is a challenge. By preparing for spare interpreters, I would like to deal with interpretation jobs more sustainably. When ISG becomes more sustainable, I hope we can contribute in some small way to GIA’s goal to raise 1,000 green innovators by 2030.
Ryohei Onishi is the founder of ISG, a conference interpreter, and an interpretation educator. Studied interpreting and translation at Graduate School of Kobe City University of Foreign Studies (M.A.). He established ISG in 2017 to raise future interpreters. Speaker at TEXxKobe 2019, simulntaneous interpretater for Taiwan’s Digital Minister Audrey Tang in 2021; contract lecturer at Faculty of Global Communications of Doshisha University since 2022.
TEDxKobe “We Are All Interpreters”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paoKicDcFAI
H.M studied in interpreting and translation program at a university. She entered a specialized trading firm as a new graduate, and had been in charge of purchasing raw materials while engaging in interpreting and translation jobs in the company. Since 2021, she has been working as an in-house interpreter and translator at a U.S. consulting company.
Kai Toyonaga completed Graduate School of International Culture and Communication Studies, Waseda University. Lecturer at Musashino University. As an in-house interpreter, he works at a foreign engineering company.
Let’s Enjoy English Together: https://kaitoyonagaeducati.wixsite.com/website
Ayana Hayano completed Graduate school of interpretation/translation programs, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. After engaging in the area of decarbonization of vessels and aircraft including COP relations at Classification Society, and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, she became an interpreter and translator. She worked at a beverage company and currently works as a freelance interpreter and translator.
China Inoue got a master’s degree in Interpreting and Translation Studies in the master’s program at Kobe City University of Foreign Studies and Monash University in Australia. Currently in charge of overseas sales at a cosmetic manufacturing company. She won the third prize at the 12th Annual Student Interpretation Contest.
Kiko Ueyama is a fourth-year student at the Department of English Studies, Kobe City University of Foreign Studies, and is going to study at Monash University in Australia from February 2023. She won the first prize at the 16th Annual Student Interpretation Contest.