|Sandy Chen (center, in lavender) was translator for a group of delegates and executives from Heinz China who explored the Senator John Heinz History Center during a visit to Pittsburgh.|
Sandy Chen, periodicals coordinator for Clarion University’s Carlson Library, volunteered as an English-to-Chinese translator for an international visit to the Heinz History Center.
Delegates and executives from Heinz China – the Hong Kong-based division of the food product manufacturer – visited the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh for a morning of local history. To understand the exhibits and tour guides, the delegates required the services of a translator. The Heinz Center called upon Sandy Chen, among others, to facilitate the international learning experience.
“Between the visitors, the docents and the translator were many interesting interactions during these delegates’ visit at the Heinz History Center,” Chen said.
The Heinz History Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute, is the largest history museum in Pennsylvania, chronicling more than 250 years of Pennsylvania history.
A native Mandarin speaker, Chen learned English in middle school and high school in Taiwan. “Most people do not have the motivation to learn and practice a language until they really need to use it,” she said. “My motivation to learn English started from the time I applied for graduate school in the United States.”
“I needed to express whatever I wanted to say, so I started to work hard on English grammar. Because Mandarin does not use letters, many grammar rules in English do not exist in a Chinese context,” Chen said.
Since becoming fluent in English, Chen has volunteered as a translator on occasion. “I have translated sermons in different church settings. For written translation, I have helped to translate journal and newspaper articles from Chinese to English, informally,” she said.
“The more I help others to translate and interpret between English and Mandarin, the more I learn about cultural knowledge and cultural differences. I’ve also learned that speaking a second language helps develop critical and creative thinking skills,” Chen said.
Chen encourages college students to learn a second language. “Especially now… learn Chinese as early as possible because it has become the third most commonly spoken language after English and Spanish,” she said.
Clarion University is the high-achieving, nationally recognized, comprehensive university that delivers a personal and challenging academic experience.