Building 640 at the Presidio in San Francisco

Building 640 at the Presidio in San Francisco
Information Source for the Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Students Share Their Experience at NJAHS: Rochelle

Hey everyone! My name is Rochelle and I am one of the volunteers from SFSU that came to help NJAHS with their interview project this semester! This experience has definitely been a memorable one. The first day at our orientation, I told Yuko that I was half Japanese, and was able to read, comprehend, and write in Japanese. Not knowing that this would affect me, she quickly told me that she was excited because she needed someone to translate an interview, instead of transcribe one. I was really excited at first, but when I left, I immediately started regretting my decision. I started to think that I was being way to confident about my abilities!

The first day I came in the next week, she assigned me to translate Albert Yoshikawa's interview. It was pre-recorded so listening and writing down and then translating should've been easy. However, the disc she gave me didn't match up with the already transcribed interview. Because of this problem, we both decided that i could just read the transcribed interview (in Japanese) and translate it from there.

This is when I really started to regret my decision of letting someone know that I understood Japanese. Understanding it and being able to read it are two completely different things. Though I am capable of reading and writing Hiragana and Katakana, I was really weak in the Kanji department, and let me tell you, this interview was FULL of it. Right now I'm taking a Intensive study of Kanji class at SFSU so my kanji was better than before but not at its fullest potential. This definitely ended up being a challenge.

But I didn't let it discourage me. A lot of it ended up being stuff that I was learning at the time and made it easier for me.

The interview started off with Albert talking about his grandfather and his life, going back and forth to Japan and America. That took up most of what I had to translate since I only did the first half of the interview. It was mainly about Albert's history, how he was born here but spent a lot of his life in Japan and returning to be a farmer like his grandfather and father. Towards the end, it talked about his feelings about Pearl Harbor and the Tule Lake, the internment camp he was interned in. By the end of my part, the story of the internment camps was about to start, so I didn't really learn about anything from that. Just a lot about Albert. I feel like I've known him for years and we are best friends. :]

But because this was such a challenge, I didn't think I would be able to finish it. But here I am, my last day at NJAHS and the interview is fully translated. Hopefully my translation is up to par and they approve it and understand it! Now I'm just waiting for the Thursday night movie night to start so I can help set up, participate in, and clean up to end my wonderful day!

Well NJAHS, it was a pleasure working for you this semester and I wish you all the best of luck with your organization!!

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