Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Found in Translation

Academia: I really do work in the most amazing place. I was working away this afternoon when the infirmary called me. "Hey, Emily," said the nurse on the other end of the line, "Do you know how to say 'apartment' in Chinese? There's a student here who doesn't understand that I need his apartment number as part of his address."

The answer is no, I don't. I minored in Spanish, and have retained enough to have basic conversations with our Spanish-speaking students, but I have zero knowledge of Chinese. But I work in a land of linguistic plenty. "Hang on," I said.

I ran out into the hall, looking for a Chinese speaker. I found a group of our American undergrad language assistants and took a shot in the dark. "Does anyone here speak Chinese?" And of course, one of them was a Chinese major. I got him on the phone and he had the whole thing sorted out in less than five minutes. And this is far from the first time I've had to do something like that. A few months ago, I got the infirmary's health history form translated into eight languages, six from our faculty and two from students. It's a unique opportunity and a blessing to be surrounded by so many languages and cultures every day. I often take it for granted, but today reminded me what a strange and wonderful job I have.

Sartorial: This was one of those 30x30 outfits that I put together because I couldn't think of anything better, but I'm more pleased with it than I thought I would be. I've avoided green and yellow together because I was afraid of being a little too lemon-lime, but with the white cardigan and bright necklace, I think it hits the right note. Perfect for teaching a summer class, counseling students, and finding impromptu translators.

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