Monday, May 28, 2012

A notepad in my bag

I feel so bad about my recent absence from updating my blog.  I haven't given up on it, though.  I just didn't have enough time to write. Well, that's an excuse.

This year I've made up my mind to spend more time as a volunteer guide interpreter rather than that of a language interpreter in English.  It seems to me that there is more opportunity to act as an guide since recently we  don't have big international events such as the Expo or the international conferences in Nagoya that many volunteer interpreters used to make the best of their language ability during the past few years.
One difference between an interpreter and a guide is the latter can talk and explain with her own words and idea ,while the former  is required to translate what other speaks. Both are challenging and on a volunteer base I really like doing both.

Ever since I have more chances to guide visitors from abroad as a volunteer,  I have one addition in terms of the items in my bag.  I always keep a little notepad in my bag to write down some  information for them.  It may not be something new at all for those experienced guides.   Well it  occurs  to me more often when I am not in charge of guiding but at some other occasions such as when I just walk across the tickets machines at a local train or subway station,  I run into a foreign visitor at a loss. Most of the times, he/she is in trouble figuring out the way  to their destination. So I jotted down the directions on a notepad page and hand it out to them. It is interesting but I am often asked to write down the names of the stations, the buildings or even some sentences using the Japanese letters such as "この電車は刈谷駅で止まりますか? Does this train make a stop at Karia station?"
This happened one day.  The young man from Christchurch who landed on Japan for the first time in his life asked me to do this. He explained that he was going to show this piece of paper  to anyone on a platform so that he would not take a wrong train.   "Ah, that is smart," I thought.
Since then I have a small note pad with me in my bag.  Just a piece of note can be a help.
At the same time, however, I have to keep it in mind that a foreigner in trouble is not necessarily a tourist but a resident and he/she speaks Japanese so well.

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