• Phil

2019 Reflection

As the year approaches its end, it feels like a good chance to reflect on my experiences working for YIFA. My first day was April 1st, so that makes it just over eight months working here, and plenty of challenges and new experiences to learn from.

The first big job that I had to contend with was the translation of the 74-page jargon-beast that is the Yasu City Guidebook. This translation work was actually a project for the year 2018-2019, but my predecessor at YIFA had to leave and go back to America very suddenly at the end of February, so he was unfortunately unable to do the work himself. Told about the work in around mid-March, before seeing the document itself I said that I would do my best to get it done by the end of the month. However, on receiving the original Japanese I very quickly realized how difficult it was going to be!

In spite of the difficulty of the terminology (especially in the tax, insurance and health chapters), and the sheer length of it, I did manage to finish an extremely rushed and mistake-laden first draft by March 29th. That meant that we technically kept our word insofar as doing the translation work, though we still didn’t look great as it still necessitated a huge amount of editing and rewriting. In fact, as I didn’t have the same programme used by the city when they made the Japanese original, I had to try my best to construct the whole document up in a similar style using Word. This all took a huge amount of time. In fact, I finished my second draft by April 9th, then with the help of Takeda-san who painstakingly checked every sentence for errors, we had a very accurate third draft finished up by the end of the month. From that point I started the very time-consuming work of rewriting it from scratch (to a similar design), and had the fourth draft ready by May 22nd. With a couple more meetings and some final editing, the final draft of the guidebook was submitted on June 7th. The final printed document was brought to us on June 12th… What an undertaking!

This was a fantastic first job to do here though. Firstly, it was great Japanese study for me! A lot of the words and phrases were either new to me, or previously learnt but lost in the recesses of my brain, but now are very familiar to me. Secondly, it was a really good way of learning about the procedures of the city hall. I occasionally get called over there (well, it’s happened about 20 times so far according to my documents) to help some foreign people with something-or-other, and although it’s sometimes tricky, I don’t feel too out of my depth, in part thanks to the background study that the guidebook translation amounted to. Finally, the rewrite in Word helped me to be much more adept at using that particular software. I’ve always just used it in the most basic way, but now am able to design things much better with it. That’s a real positive.

My second big job was the World Watching event which comprised the content of my first unread blog entry. That too was a mixed bag in terms of the success-failure duality, but was—like the guidebook—a terrific learning experience. Particularly in terms of presenting in Japanese, but also in terms of teaching myself how to use PowerPoint in a skillful way as well. Like my use of Word, I always only used PPT in a most basic way, but have taught myself how to make presentations really well through the course of this year, and especially in the course of preparing for that World Watching seminar.

Another experience that brought me technological skill was the Halloween Party in October, when I was