Drunken Moon Forums ── Road That Leads to The Professionalism
鮑開立 Interpretation Track
It normally takes 2 years to cultivate a student interpreter. During the 2 years, students listen to lectures, receive feedback from the trainers about their interpreting performance, and practice endlessly after class. With time and effort, improvement in interpreting skills and performance will surely be seen. However, interpreting as a profession is never just about training interpreters; in fact, it involves more complicated factors such as client relationship, event organization, and interactions with speakers and the audience. Sometimes, a few years are not enough for an interpreter to nail all of these, even for the most skilled ones. Therefore, a complete professional interpreter training program would include not only skill cultivation but also professional orientation for students to at least have a taste of what the interpreting profession is like.
At NTU GPTI, the Drunken Moon Forums are one of the flagship events that give students opportunities to experience the miniature international conferences. The Forums are attended by experts in different fields to talk about basic but trendy topics and the students join them by playing the roles of the audience, event organizer, and interpreter. I personally think that the Forums is integral to my interpreting learning journey at NTU since they have guided me to look at what is yet to be acquired apart from skills. After one semester of active participation in the forums as various roles, I learned several lessons; these are all valuable for professional development. Let me delve into these points in the following paragraphs.
Throughout the semester, I participated in the Forums as an audience member twice, as a staff member twice, and as an interpreter once. As an audience member, I got to listen attentively to the lectures and acquire basic domain knowledge explained by experts, which would be a plus for the job of interpreting. Moreover, as an audience member, I was able to observe the performance of my peers, the interpreters. By observing how they did, I could compare their performance with mine, and think about how I should improve and what I should maintain. This is how I locate myself in the interpreting learning journey and revise my study plan.
As a staff member of the Forums, on the other hand, I learned how to communicate with other staff members and the interpreters and prepare for the events. Although the Forums are very small events, things can still go wrong if communications among the staff and time management are poor. I remember once I was in charge of buying sandwiches for the Forum. Since that was the only thing I had to do, I planned to bring the sandwiches to the Forum 15 minutes before it started. However, I didn’t realize that other staff members who were setting up the venue would need my help. They were still busy with the work chaotically as I arrived. After setting up everything, we still had to test the equipment with the interpreters, which we nearly forgot. Although we still managed to get the Forum started on time, I learned how important it is to manage time and communicate well to ensure the job be done smoothly. One of the staff members then decided to make a list of what to do in order do this better next time.
Finally, as an interpreter, I learned the most from the Forums compared to when I was an audience member and a staff member. When I was assigned as the interpreter for the Forum, I received an email asking for my availability. I had to interact with the client to confirm the availability, remunerations, and topic. I learned to communicate with clients and how a freelance interpreter is usually assigned tasks. After all these were set, I went on to prepare for the talk. During preparation, I had to collaborate with my colleague and check with the client whether the slides or outlines of the talk were available. When the day came, I had to arrive earlier to set up and test the equipment. In addition, skills were not the only thing I had to worry about. Nervousness was the real enemy. I had been trained in skills in class for semesters, so skills did not pose too many challenges. But those were the first few times that I interpreted for a live audience, so nervousness was inevitable and had to be eliminated with hard work to ensure a good performance. I won’t say that I dealt with nervousness successfully then, but at least I knew what it felt like. With this in mind, I went home and experimented with ways to overcome it. Now, I think I know how to handle the nervousness.
Domain knowledge, observation of peers, communications, event organizations, and handling nervousness were what I learned from the Drunken Moon Forums. These were indispensable for professional interpreters, yet most of them were impossible to be learned in interpreting classes. By that time, I had done a few interpreting jobs outside the university, and I could confirm that all I had learned from the Forums were indeed very useful. I knew how to negotiate with clients and was able to predict scenarios at work and prepare for them. It had cost GPTI a lot to organize the Forums, but the lessons and opportunities the Forums created for students were invaluable. The Drunken Moon Forums were definitely an important and effective road that led the students to professionalism.