Monday, October 24, 2005

Finally I can catch my breath...

After that last posting about my birthday flower... everything went up and down, and then down even more, then up a bit... and then down to the newest low that I didn't think it could possibly be any lower... finally now up a bit.

The homestay event was quite good. The cooking part seemed like a success because everybody told me that it was quite nice to have the cooking lesson as an icebreaker. The food that we made was too much... We made chirashi zushi, chawan mushi, goma ae, and buri teriyaki. We had too many things to cover, and I had to get in this group that only has 2 people (well... if people would have shown up...) However, the chawan mushi (the egg custard thing that I thought everybody's gonna mess up) turned out REALLY good. I was very impressed.

I was worried if the homestay people were alright or not.. but it seems like everything was fine. So, both my supervisor and I were relieved. Especially this event was done entirely on my own. My sup had to go to this seminar for a week (which all the JETs know that the 研修 (kenshu) seminars in Japan are never about learning... it's the drinking afterwards...), so I had to just do it. It turned out alright.

Then after a week of dreading, the Italians finally arrived. The Italian chapter of Rotary club sent 5 people to Southern Kyushu for a friendly visit. As usual, they would come to the city hall for a courtesy visit (NO idea why...), and I would do the usual interpreting in the short meeting of 30 minutes. It was all good, and I was glad that there was also the Italian priest of a Catholic Church in Kanoya there, and he interpreted a few too.

Here comes the best part.

I was told that they wished me to attend the welcome banquet on Friday night and be seated at the table with the host family that doesn't have anybody who can speak English. Just to get the communication going and make the guest feel welcome. Okay, that I can do. Small talks, right, no problem.


After the first speech (which was translated by the priest, from Japanese in Italian, for the guests), the team leader of the Italian group started this powerpoint presentation thing, and the MC just looked at me and went:"Sandy-san, please interpret."

I don't know why, but I stood up. And numbly walked to the stage, as I was telling myself:"WTF...?" This was NOT what I thought it would be. Okay, Sandy, you can do it. I fumbled through some slides, and it wasn't as bad. Then as it progressed to introducing very specific things about Italy and the Rotary clubs there, etc. My brain stopped working.

It was like one of those times when you accidentally slipped in the pool and tried to get above the water, and then realized that you can't reach it. I couldn't breathe, and my stupid suit was too tight. As I felt the sweat dripping through my spine, I was still trying. And then it got worse and worse... Finally I kinda gave up and turned around to look at the priest. He kindly took over and did the rest of the interpretation. The whole PP presentation lasted, oh I don't know, like 30-45 minutes.

I had never been so ashamed before in my life. I felt like breaking down and just cried. But I couldn't. About 70 people were staring at me. I had to be strong.

After that my sup and I went to this other place and meet up with other office guys. They tried their best to say nice things to me, lamely saying that it was not fair for those people to just spring it on me. It was really silly to hear them trying to make me feel better, but somehow it worked. We went to Hemmings, and then about 15 ALTs and others showed up. I got to vent to Nanette and Rina. I got free drinks, so it was quite nice.

Then the next day I had to go the Kirishimagaoka Park and the Kanoya Sports U with them... It was actually not that bad at all. I got to translate most of it, and didn't look stupid at all. There was one thing though... At one point, we got to see this small pool room in the Kanoya Sports U where they would train athletes to swim in extreme condition, like high altitude. Kinda like a simulator thing. And then this guy who was showing us around said that, "oh and this is also used as an experiment room where they have animal testing, about 100 rabbit died in here." I just about flipped. I asked him if he was joking. He laughed, and said no. I had to tell the Italians what he said. And this lady just made this face like she smelled something really bad...

Well, then yesterday I went to the Dragon Boat racing in Nejime (now Minami Osumi-cho). It was a great day, and I had a fantastic time. But most importantly, we didn't suck!! Our team, Tiger Ladies, managed to squeeze into 6th place, past the pink ladies who were stretching all over the place, 1 hour before our Tiger ladies even got together to decide who's gonna do the drumming and who's gonna steer.

Whew... tomorrow gonna do a Halloween Lesson at Oaira elementary. Gotta be Genki Genki!!

OH BIG NEWS!!!! Jeni gave birth to a healthy baby boy Ethan Robert Coster!! CONGRATULATIONS to Jeni and Chris! Baby Ethan's birthday is the same as Daniela's too!! hee hee October 18th! Just 3 days after Chris's and 5 days after mine! Another autumn baby :)


Natasha said...

I'm sorry, only Japanese...

medea said...


Sounds like you did an awesome job on the cooking classes and homestay!

That is unbelievably unprofessional for someone to just ask you to translate a long speech with no notice. Whoever did that needs 30 smacks with a wet noodle. You shoudn't be sad, they should be ashamed. That's not how one should treat an interpreter. Grrrrr.