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ICU Student Wins 11th Annual Students Interpretation Contest

Update: December 11, 2017

The winner, Yuta Okuyama (right), and Visiting Professor Tomoko Tamura, who provided him with instruction and guidanceThe winner, Yuta Okuyama (right), and Visiting Professor Tomoko Tamura, who provided him with instruction and guidance

ICU student Yuta Okuyama (4th year student; Major: Media, Communication and Culture) won the 11th Annual Students Interpretation Contest, a project of the Consortium of Foreign Studies in Japan, held on November 25, Saturday, at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies.

Nine universities from around Japan participated in this contest. The contest was a competition of the skills of the contestants in consecutive interpretation of what was spoken in Japanese and English on the theme of "No Country is an Island; what the world has given Japan and what Japan has given back."

Comment by Yuta Okuyama, the winner of the contest

Professor Tomoko Tamura, who teaches classes at ICU related to interpreting, such as "Beginners Interpreting Practice," invited me to take part in the interpretation contest. I decided to take part because I thought it would be a good experience.

About a week after I decided to take part in the contest, Nagoya University of Foreign Studies sent me the theme of the speech to be used in the contest and a glossary of terms related to the theme. Among those themes, there were some that were difficult for me to understand and there were many terms that I did not know how to interpret, and I felt very unsure about whether I would be able to do a good job with the interpreting. However, in preparation for the contest, I worked together with Professor Tamura, as well as Professor Chikako Tsuruta of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS) and a TUFS student who was also going to participate in the contest, to create a simulation script and I also practiced doing interpretations a number of times, and I believe these efforts helped me gain some confidence.

I was already feeling nervous from the evening before the contest, and while I stood in front of the judges during the contest, I couldn't stop my hands from shaking. So I am very honored that I was able to win the contest. Without everyone's support, without everything I was taught about interpreting by my professors up to now, and above all else, without the two professors who came up with the perfect measures leading up to the contest and my friend at TUFS who made preparations and practiced with me, I don't believe I would have been able to achieve the success I did. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to everyone. I can't thank you enough.

Comment by Visiting Professor Tomoko Tamura, who provided Mr. Okuyama with instruction and guidance

Yuta Okuyama, who took part in this year's contest as ICU's representative, achieved a brilliant win, and as his advising teacher, I can think of no greater honor and I am deeply grateful.

This contest is an important stepping-stone for university students all over Japan who aspire to become professional interpreters, and one has to be prepared to put in a great deal of effort into preparations. Every year, the participants are sent only a number of sub-themes based on the main major theme and a list of related terms. On the day of the contest, lots are drawn to determine the sub-theme that each participant is to be assigned. Apparently, ICU had not been taking part in the contest for the past few years and there were no former students who had experience in the contest, so I asked at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, where I teach part-time, if the participant representing that university would practice together with our participant. And to this request, Professor Chikako Tsuruta (Professor, Institute of Global Studies, TUFS Graduate School) readily gave her consent. Once or twice every week after finishing his 7th period class (ending at 7:00 pm), Mr. Okuyama would get on his bicycle and ride to the TUFS campus to engage in friendly competition practices with the TUFS participant. The two students and the two advising professors would engage in intensive training late into the night.

On the day of the contest, lots were drawn to assign sub-themes and Mr. Okuyama drew the topic of "medicine." I believe the key to Mr. Okuyama's win was his ability to give thorough and easy-to-understand interpretations with great composure of complex and intense exchanges on such contents as Genpaku Sugita's New Book of Anatomy, iPS cells and regenerative medicine, as well as fundamental thinking related to western medicine going back to Greek philosophy. Mr. Okuyama is a very gutsy student - he volunteered to handle the simultaneous interpreting chores for the TED x ICU talk that our university hosted on September 30. The TUFS participant who practiced with Mr. Okuyama took Third Prize at the contest.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation to all of the people at ICU, including many professors and various staff members, who have supported me in so many ways since I took up my position at ICU in September. And I would like to give a special thanks to Professor Tsuruta, who took time away from her extremely busy schedule, which included handling all of the simultaneous interpreting duties for the television coverage of President Trump during his visit to Japan, to attend the joint practices in preparation for the contest and give Mr. Okuyama invaluable feedback during every session.

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