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Group of first ladies walking on sidewalk
Katherine Porras, second from left, with Peru's first lady and Michelle Obama

Editor’s update, November 14

Kathering Porras, seen second from left in the group of first ladies led by Michelle Obama, was escort interpreter for Nadine Heredia, the first lady of Peru. John Nealon

Also, UH Mānoa American studies doctoral graduate Xin Liu and former UH Center for Interpretation and Translation Studies student assistant David Liang interpreted between Chinese and English for Gov. Abercrombie and Lt. Gov. Schatz, respectively, at at a lunch hosted by Governor Abercrombie. They also provided simultaneous translation for the more than 200 Chinese attendees at the China-American Clean Energy Forum.

UH student and instructor interpret for foreign leaders

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa graduate student Katherine Porras will serve as a Spanish-English escort interpreter for one of the first ladies In Honolulu for APEC Leader’s Week while her instructor is escort interpreter for the president of the member economy.

They’re not allowed to say who they’ll be accompanying until after the meetings.

Katherine Porras

Porras, an MA candidate in dance ethnology, was John Nealon’s student in the Center for Interpretation and Translation Studies 2011 Summer Intensive Interpreter Training program. It was the first time Spanish-English was offered in the six-week training program covering simultaneous and consecutive interpreting. The center has offered the training in Korean, Japanese and Mandarin every second year since 1999.

“International forums held in Hawaiʻi, such as the APEC meetings, use international languages. That spells jobs for trained language interpreters, and our students have the skills to compete with experienced mainland interpreters for those jobs,” said Suzanne Zeng, director of the Center for Interpretation and Translation Studies.

Senior journalism student, Courtney Viernes, was hired by NBC News to help in its coverage of APEC, noted Zeng. “These are opportunities for our students to get real world experience.”

Center teachers, students and alumni in Korean, Chinese and Spanish were used to interpret at the pre-APEC International Drug Trafficking Forum hosted by the Honolulu Department of the Prosecuting Attorney and the International Business Leaders event sponsored by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

“I love to see local jobs go to local folk, especially those who are from UH. I hope Hawaiʻi will be seen as a extraordinary place for international events for our students’ sake,” said Zeng.

Learn more about the Center for Interpretation and Translation Studies, a part of UH Mānoa’s College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature, which regularly teaches 25 languages, mostly Asian and Indo-Pacific, and has the capacity to teach 50 more according to demand.

This article was updated 11/15 to correctly identify the governor’s interpreter.

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