“curious eyebrows flexing, rebuttals, and eureka moments, the occasional laughter breaks out during class”

筆譯組碩一 蘇泰格Gregory Badrena

 

Six years ago, I couldn’t have imagined myself living in Asia, let alone learning Mandarin. And three years ago, I still hadn’t a clue what to do with my language skills. There, in my lonely two-bed dorm at 三明學院, it finally occurred to me, why not choose translation as a career? Why not study a field that encompasses anything and everything I’m passionate about? History, culture, literature, politics, humor…all can be digested interchangeably from one day to the next, week by week.

 

During my first semester as a graduate in the translation track, I’ve learned quite a handful. To be honest, I’m just glad to finally be back on the ‘student side’ of the classroom after teaching English for several years. However, I also had no idea how different a Taiwanese class would be compared to my Caribbean hometown, let alone the difference in dynamics between an undergraduate and graduate program. In a nutshell, I didn’t exactly know what to expect.

 

Seminars from both foreign and local experts, group projects and presentations, dipping my feet into the complex world of translation research, all have reinforced my conviction that I’ve made the right choice to be here. But the most valuable activity, and perhaps the one most overlooked for its regularity, is the weekly in-class revision and constructive commentary; not only involving the professors, but classmates alike.

 

Among the glances, curious eyebrows flexing, rebuttals, and “eureka” moments, the occasional laughter breaks out during class. This dynamic is by far the most precious for our training as future professionals: to accept others pointing out our flaws and weaknesses when translating, and to learn how to respectfully and constructively give suggestions when we see fit. Personally, if one could spice it up with some humor, then the slip ups will be all the more memorable.

 

When learning how to use the translation tool Termsoup with Professor Tsai and the actual creators of this computer program, it’s evident that learning to work together with other translators is essential, despite the incoming technological advances in the field. One can never fully disconnect themselves forever from other translators and interpreters. Professor Damien Fan mentioned that our classmates will probably be our colleagues at some point or another, so be nice to each other (I’m paraphrasing, of course, but the words are no less true).

 

In short, taking in criticism and always dissecting other classmates’ unique way of ‘bending’ languages is by far the greatest asset of this program. My experiences teaching languages have helped me cherish this because it’s a rarity: one needs just the right classmates and just the right professors to make this environment happen, and so I’m extremely grateful for that.

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