Speech delivered to students on December 9, 2014

Below is the speech that I gave to my interpreting students today in our last class of the term. They seemed to appreciate it and like it, especially because it was written just for them. I spoke in English and asked one student to simultaneously interpret it into Korean and then 3 other students then interpreted from this back into English. There are some inside jokes and strange expressions here but I thought a few people might enjoy it, so here it is. I did something similar last year


Good morning.
It’s a cold one. I hope you are all faring well in your battles against the cold. I am doing ok. Gosh. It seems like Jack Frost will be nipping at our heels for a while now. Wow it is December already? I guess when we started the year in March it was a bit chilly as well. Climate change is a grave threat to us but on days like today I feel like an extra 2 degrees Celsius would be quite welcome.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests. I am so happy to see you this morning.

I was pleased and even a little bit surprised you opted to meet today. Thanks for that. I hope you will enjoy your well-deserved and hard earned day off next week. I hope you will enjoy the rest of the year and catch up on all the things maybe you have been neglected.

Things like hobbies, loved ones, pets, TV shows and the NBA. And oh yeah, sleep.
There is probably lots to catch up on.

Thanks very much for taking the time out of your busy schedules to be here.
The fact that you were here last week, under a different and more stressful situation, makes it all the more meaningful. I hope it is and has been a fruitful time for you.

Before I forget, I’d also like to thank you all very much, especially Name1, for laughing at my bad jokes. It was very much appreciated. It is nice to see someone laughing even when the room has become frozen and there are penguin passing through. I am glad we won’t have to worry about these situations any more. I think over the winter I will devote myself to youtube clips of comedians.

When I look around the room it is nice to see such familiar faces, including some people I have worked with for two years. Name2, Name3, Name4.  Thanks so much for coming. It has been a pleasure working with you and I have enjoyed seeing your growth and improvement. Thank you.

As I look around the room and realize this is our last class it feels a bit bittersweet.  But, that is life I suppose. Parting really is such sweet sorrow.  It’s true.

I wanted to share something interesting. Well, I think it is interesting anyway. I think some of you know this but I am not sure. This term, I didn’t have classes on Mondays. So this Tuesday morning class with you was my Monday. Tuesday is the new Monday. Well, I am not really much of a Monday person or a Monday person, so sometimes I work up early in the morning with some dread. Oh my god, I have to go to school. I have to work. Lately it was also, “I have to get out of this comfy and warm bed and I have to brave the cold and face the conditions.” But, the thing is, the interesting thing is, when I finally got moving I was excited to see you. I was exciting to hear your interpretations. Excited to do my best to answer your questions. Excited to let Name4 down easily when his option wasn’t quite right in my mind. Excited to see your continued improvement. I mean it sincerely when I saw it was a pleasure to work with you. It was lots of fun and I appreciate the time we spent together.

I felt like this group supported each other well and helped each other. I think that was a definite process in this challenging process. I am reminded of the African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I believe you have come a long way. I also hope it was the journey you signed up for 2 years ago.

Halfway point! 

On a side note, I’d also like to take a moment and thank you once again for sharing your wisdom and experiences with you juniors, with those who will follow in your footsteps and will be here in the same seats next year. I hope and believe that they will appreciate this and that your collective, collected, wisdom will be helpful for them and maybe even help them skip a step or two down the wrong path. Or maybe to avoid some common pitfalls. Or maybe just make these challenges a little easier or with a different perspective form a veteran.

As you know, it can be challenging so I think such advice is very helpful. I know you have been through a tough time, culminating in the tests last week. I also appreciate the challenge and serious task you have undertaken. In terms of simultaneous interpretation it is like you are faced with a nearly impossible task every moment. Everyone always says “Practice makes perfect” and I think there is a valuable message behind this but I also think this pursuit of perfection can lead us astray, can lead us down the wrong path. I much prefer the quote, attributed to Voltaire that “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” What this means to me is that when we try to be perfect we might miss out on that and also miss out on even being good. This is quote I like to remind myself of when I find myself being a bit too much of a perfectionist.., It can happen! But seriously, I think this is good advice. I really admire your endeavor on this.

I also admire your can-do spirit and willingness to work hard and hear critiques and pick yourself off and try again. This is a great quality that I think will serve you well in your lives, both in and outside of this field.

Perhaps it is this can-do spirit helped Korea rise from the ashes of war and achieve both democracy and industrialization at the same time. As you might be aware, Korea is the only nation to have transformed itself from an OECD recipient nation to a donor nation.

Of course, and I am somewhat sorry to say it, you are not graduating into a completely stable situation. North Korea remains a threat and the South Korean economy is not a sure thing. Yet, I am hopeful that you will be fine and do well. This is a world of unprecedented challenges both here in Korea and outside of it. Once again I think the can-do spirit will serve you well in the challenges that life will surely present you with.

Finally, just as a practical note. If you ever need my help or advice or feedback or anything don’t hesitate to get in touch. Truly, my door is always open. I think most of you are familiar with my email response times. Do let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

Thanks once again for all your effort throughout the term and year. I appreciate it.

If I might be allowed one apology, I am sorry if this speech wasn’t as poetic as some might have hoped for. I did my best. And sometimes that is a good goal, to just do our best.
So that is goodbye for now.

Good luck and yes, godspeed.


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