This was my last volunteer job for the year 2012 and it was a very worthy one.
One day in spring I got an e-mail from a Japanese woman in Australia. She was looking for a volunteer interpreter for her Australian husband and his family. They were going to have a wedding party in her home city, Nagoya in December.
On that day I met her for the first time, she introduced me to her husband, and to his family.
When she wrote me the first mail, she mentioned that her husband desperately needed an interpreter sitting next to him at the main table during the whole party. I wrote back to her that it would not be a good idea. I was pretty sure people would love to see only the happy couple at the main table. A presence of an interpreter may distract the attention. More than anything else, she could be a best interpreter for her husband. Yet my idea was not accepted. Her husband explained to me that they would like to spend much time talking and sharing with their relatives and friends and not for themselves. So their guests found an interpreter sitting next to a bridegroom on the party day. My colleague then interpreted for his mother and brother at a table of both families.
The whole party was just heartwarming. Although the bride planned everything in detail beforehand, there were some surprises which she never knew of ----such as a speech of her father and a lively entertainment by her ex-colleagues of flight attendants. Welcoming surprises brought them lots of laughter and happy tears as well.
As for my job, most of the time, I translated by whispering to him. Sometimes I just refrained from interpreting on the spot because I wanted him to feel the atmosphere first. I did so, for instance, when the bride's uncle chanted a Japanese traditional poem. I explained its meaning after his performance. He made some questions about Japanese culture and this gave me a chance to talk to them about our traditions.
My role was more than interpreting. It was challenging for me. I felt very much thankful that they gave me an opportunity to have a wonderful experience.