What Language is this conversation in?


“Is that how he said it in his story?” – The word did not make sense or at least it did not make sense in relation to the rest of the sentence. The most difficult thing about translating anything is making sure that not only does the sentence make sense, but making sure that it also reflects what the author was trying to convey in his own language. After interviewing a group of students concerning my research, I assisted the director of the World Friendship Center in translating Hibuksha stories into English. They read the stories first in Japanese, the way they were originally written. Once the students had finished reading from the small collection of stories – the stories that were trying to convey some emotion or feeling to any audience that would listen – they pulled out the English translation that they had typed out. Everyone of us had a copy. Reading it over along with the students, the director and I marked up the story, marking any awkward word choice, unclear sentence or grammar mistake. Having done this before in the United States when helping out foreign students on campus, I was excited to be able to help the students and the director. Enthusiastically, I read over the paper, scanning for anything and trying to offer any helpful suggestions. I wanted to contribute as much as possible and spoke up as often as I could. It was an interesting process since by trying to improve the translation as much as possible, we were having to step into the mind of the Hibuksha. We had to try to understand what he was trying to get across and the significance of every word. I felt it was very rewarding and was very grateful to have been able to be a part of that process.

Afterwards, we were informed about another task that the directors of the World Friendship Center wanted us to do. Adjacent to the low table and floor mats in the living room space in the World Friendship Center, there is a bookshelf. This bookshelf has a very intriguing collection of books and organizational structure. They wanted us to reorganize the books and create a database for the entire library of the World Friendship Center. However, we are not required to start on it right away and had the opportunity to just get acquainted with the books contained in the library. I had already wanted to peruse the library and so took this opportunity to read through the books. While reading several books and losing track of time, Lindsey found a book containing art. Looking through, I found that the book contained a collection of art from artists and designers from all over Japan that came together in a collaborative effort to tell their experience with nuclear weapons. There were several thought-provoking pieces of art that tried to express people’s emotions and feelings with regards to nuclear weapons. Throughout the book were pages of statistics on nuclear weapons, as well as the history of nuclear weapons. Two pieces of art caught my eye. They seemed to speak directly to me… One said “What is Peace anyway?” and another said “Starting a Conversation – For me it is to know you, For you it is to know me.” I took out a pencil I had and two sheets of paper and tried to recreate these two interesting pieces of art. In the end, as important as discussions and understanding are…there will always be that question…What is PEACE anyway?


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