IJET24 Report: おかげさまで、I had a brilliant time!
By Lucy Takato

As I find myself back in reality from the sunshine and beaches of Hawai’i, I reflect daily on the truly rewarding experience I had, and just how fitting it was that the overall mantra emerging from the conference was おかげさまで – an idea expounded on by Former Governor Ariyoshi in his fascinating keynote address. Therefore, before I go any further, I would first like to express my gratitude to the Ninth Annual JAT Contest Committee for the incredible opportunity to participate in the conference, and to say a very big “thank you” to the Organizing Committee for putting together such a smoothly run and stimulating event.

Before it started, I jotted down some notes on what I hoped to get out of the conference. They included: networking with peers and mentors; figuring out which CAT tool would be an appropriate investment for me; and gaining business acumen for the sound establishment of my freelance business as a translator. Well, I achieved all those and so much more.

The first event I participated in was the JATLAW special interest group meeting. I was prompted to attend this event by a recent translation trial, which required me to translate a business contract. I was very surprised by the extra time and effort it takes to translate these documents, especially for someone like me with no legal background. The discussions and input from the group leaders and participants were very insightful and I left armed with great resources. The added bonus was that since I had already met a number of people in this small group setting, I was able to immediately recognize a number of friendly faces when I showed up at the Zenyasai later that evening.

To mark the opening of the conference, we were treated to a traditional Hawai’ian music and dance performance. The Honorable George Ariyoshi’s engaging address on his personal and professional story, and the incredible insight in to the vast influence of Japanese language and culture on Hawai’i offered by succeeding speakers really set the stage for a great conference with strong Hawai’ian touches throughout.

The biggest challenge for me was choosing which of the three sessions to attend in each time slot. Over the two days, every session I attended was extremely useful and beneficial, and I was especially happy to learn there were sessions that aligned perfectly with my goals, such as “Finding the Right CAT Tool for Japanese and English Translators” and “The Business of Translation for Beginners”. Throughout these sessions, I was struck by how humble all the presenters and participants were in their willingness to contribute to the profession and other individuals’ growth, as well as their hunger for continuous self-learning despite being well-established in their careers.

Two sessions stuck with me the most and still make me stop and think every day. The first was “Interpreting Skills for Translators”. This session offered fascinating insight in to the skills required for interpreting and how we can put them to work simply to improve our own language, memory and summarization proficiency. I constantly find myself “shadowing” – a tip I picked up from the session – as I watch the NHK news these days!

The other session that left me thinking (and a lot of people talking) was “Ethics Panel – the Gameshow!!”. I was put in the spotlight as one of the gameshow’s contestants, and was confronted with several ethical scenarios. This was an excellent session with very thought-provoking questions. I sincerely hope this format is included in future conferences with extra time to discuss the very contentious issues. And hopefully I can avoid the spotlight next time!

The Saturday evening banquet held in the gorgeous grounds of the Waikiki Aquarium was so perfectly organized. This also served as the setting for the award ceremony for the translation contest, where I and two other winners were presented with certificates and t-shirts and given the chance to formally thank everyone for the priceless opportunity. The location, the delicious food including dumplings and the traditional whole-roasted pig (ah, that crackling skin!), as well as the chance to chat with everyone in a casual setting, were all unbeatable.

Wherever I went, there were fascinating people to talk to with a wealth of knowledge not only about our field or on resources for translation and interpretation, but also on legal and tax implications of setting up a business. I look forward to seeing everyone again at future JAT events and IJET conferences. I found everyone to be so warm and friendly, and genuinely interested in each other’s stories. Rather than a sense of competition, I felt a strong sense of camaraderie – people looking for ways to help each other out, and veterans arranging a lunch so that newbies like me did not feel left out. A number of people even said they would get in touch with me if they had food and beverage work (my favorite field) come their way – thank you! おかげさまで、I left the conference feeling very excited about my future as a translator.