NTU students excelled in Grand Final of 7th Cross-Strait Interpreting Contest

Students from the Graduate Program in Translation and Interpretation (GPTI) won top awards at the Grand Final of the 7th Cross-Strait Interpreting Contest. Kimberly Chen placed 4th overall and was awarded First Prize, while Lenny Yang placed 11th and was awarded Second Prize. Along with three other Third Prize winners—Joey Chao, Sophie Chang, and Cristina Chuang—the five GPTI students were among the eight delegates who were chosen through an island-wide interpreting contest last December to represent Taiwan in the high-profile event held on April 28th at the City University of Hong Kong.

Twenty-eight contestants from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, USA, and UK took part in the day-long, two-round contest that was streamed online. The first challenge was to interpret into English a one-minute Chinese commentary on coral reefs under 45 seconds. Then the contestants were required to interpret into Chinese a segment of a UNESCO speech on the preservation of intangible cultural heritage. Contestants whose combined scores of these first two challenges were in the upper half advanced into the final round, where each had to interpret a discussion between two speakers on the issue of cultural landscapes. A total of fourteen adjudicators evaluated the students’ performances, and they eventually chose the delegate from Nanjing’s Southeast University to be the winner.

Kimberly Chen, who was the highest-placing contestant from Taiwan, shared the First Prize with students from Beijing Foreign Studies University, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, and National Taiwan Normal University. Thousands of contestants go through university level, provincial level, and regional level contests before becoming one of the twelve delegates representing Mainland China.

Damien Fan, assistant professor at GPTI, sat among the audience throughout the day. He has served on the judging panel twice in previous grand finals and was very proud of his students’ poise and performance. “Compared with their Mainland counterparts, Taiwanese students sometimes lack the photographic memories and lexical reflex that are truly mind-boggling. However, our students are comparatively more conscious of whether they are communicating effectively with good rapport and idiomatic expressions.” he commented.

The Cross-Strait Interpreting Contest is the brainchild of Xiamen University and has gained popularity since 2009. It is supported by China’s Ministry of Education and a key project for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office. The eminent rise of China in the past decade has helped its interpreting training landscape burgeon with eager students and competing institutions. China’s education ministry has even established a professional degree, the Master of Translation and Interpreting, or MTI, in an attempt to control and improve the caliber of translation and interpreting education. As of 2017, there are 215 MTI programs in China.

Hong Kong hosted the event for the first time. It took place in Taiwan on three previous occasions, and there have been three winners from Taiwan whose performances virtually changed how interpreting education is conducted in China. Michelle Wu, assistant professor at the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures who also teaches at GPTI, said, “The quality of Taiwan’s top interpreting programs is truly world-class. We are also able to attract some of the best students. Were Taiwan’s international status more ‘normal’, these young talents could go anywhere and make Taiwan proud.”

(GPTI students representing Taiwan in the 7th Cross-Strait Interpreting Contest. From left to right: Lenny Yang, Cristina Chuang, Kimberly Chen, Sophie Chang, and Joey Chao.)