Mock Conference as a Checking Point
林可晴 Interpretation Track
It seems like only yesterday that I was discussing the slides with George and practicing our speech for the mock conference. We were merging two videos of information into one speech and making sure our speech makes sense. There were some watermarks on the slides we screenshotted so George photoshopped them out. I printed out my script and spent hours memorizing them, at the same time practicing them so much that it would sound natural and not like I was not reciting the script. Despite how nervous we were, we gave the speech and got feedback from Professor Yinyin Wu on our performance. We also had the opportunity to observe and appreciate the then-second-year students’ interpreting. I was so impressed by the interpreters and blown away by how intense the Mock Conference could be for the interpreters. Fast forward to today, it’s hard to believe that we have already finished OUR mock conference as interpreters, as well as the first semester of the second year.
Mock Conference is definitely one of the most important (and probably the most stressful) events in GPTI for second-year students. This year, we were given the materials three days beforehand, which means we had three days to go through the slides, read parallel texts, and practice some before the Mock Conference. And to put it simply, I think that aside from testing my interpreting skills, the Mock Conference also gave me some food for thought and several things to remind myself when feeling lost.
Way before the Mock Conference, we, the eight r10s, decided to work as a team. There were four decks of slides, separately for SI to C, SI to E, CI to C, and CI to E. We’ve got three whole days to prepare, so schedules were made and jobs were assigned. On Friday, some of us started to translate the slides on Google shared files, which took us less time than we expected. Those who were in charge of the SI slides realized that there wasn’t much information on the slides but only some icons and pictures. Hence, we decided the first thing we would do (on the weekend to be spent together) will be brainstorming on what those icons on the slides might mean.
The next two days were well spent. We made sure everyone got the full, translation-included version of the slides and discussed them through. Brainstorming was a great way to kick off a day and light up the creative side of our minds. It also kept things light and reduced the nervousness, for we always managed to make things funny and embed some quick inside jokes into our sessions. During the two-day preparation, we had breakfast, lunch, and even dinner together; we also formed groups of three and practiced together, giving each other not only feedback but also encouragement. And all these, I think, are very important to me personally, because having my classmates with me, I didn’t have to be anxious and alone at home. I could ask for feedback on my somehow broken Chinese, so could we seek emotional support when feeling frustrated. The preparation of the Mock Conference together provided me with a sense of security. I was less nervous on the big day and felt like we were marching forward as a team instead of going to a brutal battle alone.
Another thing Mock Conference helped me realize is how courses and events in GPTI go hand in hand. At first, honestly, I didn’t know how it works. I actually felt quite lost the first year. Interpreting seemed like a whole Amazon rainforest of words, skills, and information to be acquired and explored, where it seemed impossible to know where we were heading to or how to get to the destination. I was confused. I knew the courses are well scheduled and arranged to make sure we take firm steps toward becoming competent interpreters. However, I was always wondering how those arranged courses could take us through the gigantic rainforest, and how I could find a way to make sure I’m on the right track. It felt like I needed to get my footprints all over the forest, and I needed to smell every flower, collect every single kind of leaves, and then try to reach the destination somewhere. This stressed me out for a while, but after entering the second year, things started to make sense.
I started to get what Damien once explained to me what studying interpreting might look like. It’s like after the big bang, things are messy and floating around all over the universe, but they are also slowly swirling and coming close to form the galaxy and planets. Indeed, that’s how I feel this semester. There are, of course, limitless words and expressions to memorize, thousands of pages of slides to read and countless difficult new topics to learn. But it becomes clearer what my problems are and how I can improve as I move forward. The pattern started to appear. Taking courses certainly provides a lot of helpful tools, and Mock Conference turns out to be one of the checking points along the journey. It’s likely that we have been exploring, hiking, jogging or even sprinting in the rainforest, not knowing how far we’ve come. And here’s Mock Conference, forcing us to stop to look at where we’ve been and where we are. Because of the courses and because of the Mock Conference, we are able to not only travel with firm steps but also take a good look at how far we’ve traveled and which way we’re heading next.
It has dawned on me that these courses and events in GPTI, however wonderful and nurturing, might not be able to fly me directly to the mountain top (or Amazon river, or wherever my destination might be), but they equip us with tools to find direction. It might be a compass, maybe a map, or possibly a constellation chart to give us a hint of where we are. The intense courses, Mock Conference, and the guidance of professors enable us to go on our own journeys. Mock Conference, of all the wonderful (and also challenging) things we get to experience in GPTI, is more than a test. It serves as a checking point, in the way that here is where we pause, look around, and see how far we’ve come in this ever-growing journey of interpreting. And hence, we are able to go even further.
Owing to an editing oversight, in the previous issue (Newsletter No.66), we wrongly referred to the author of the article “How Language Shaped Who I Am” (p.3-4) as being on GPTI’s interpretation track, while Ricky (陳宇祺) is in fact on the translation track.
The article was amended on 7 January 2023. We sincerely apologize to the author and our readers for any confusion or inconvenience. Going forward, we will strive for a more rigorous editorial process to prevent such errors.