by Jason Warburg

Student in an interpretation booth
Rony Gao MACI ’21 working in a simultaneous interpretation booth during an interpreting assignment in 2019.

Ye Yu MACI ’21 and Rony Gao MACI ’21 won first prize in the Simultaneous Interpreting Invitational Tournament at the 10th International Translation and Interpreting Competition organized by Beijing Language and Culture University.

Yu and Gao are recent graduates of the Middlebury Institute’s Translation and Interpretation master’s programs. They participated in the May 23, 2021, event via Zoom, with Gao also taking second prize in the competition’s individual category.

Deliberate Practice

“Winning this competition is a real highlight of my journey at MIIS,” said Gao. “I felt privileged to represent the MIIS Chinese cohort and its 20 exceptional graduates, who formed such a powerful support system for us. The honor belongs to all of them.”

“It was an honor to participate in this tournament, and I am humbled by the excellent performance of all,” said Yu. “Participating in this tournament was challenging, and those 15 minutes of interpretation were the result of hundreds of hours of deliberate practice.”

Other online and onsite contestants were from major Chinese-English translation and interpretation programs in the world, including Beijing Foreign Studies University, Shanghai International Studies University, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, University of International Business and Economics, Fudan University, University of Bath, and the University of Leeds.

Student with headset on computer working on interpretation assignment
Ye Yu MACI ’21 working on an interpretation assignment from home.

Proud Faculty

Professor Wallace Chen is the program head of Chinese translation and interpretation at the Institute and he served as the students’ coach and mentor for the competition. Professor Chen offered his congratulations, telling Yu and Gao, “Your great performance is an inspiration to all of us, especially during this pandemic when we have had to learn how to adapt and navigate through one challenge after another.”

“Thank you, for representing us so well, and for all of the hard work you (and your teachers) put into making this possible!” said Laura Burian, dean of the Graduate School of Translation, Interpretation, and Language Education. “I’m very proud of you and humbled by your achievement.”

I could never have won the prize without the help and support of my professors. I would also like to thank all of my classmates for their encouragement. You all mean so much to me!
— Ye Yu MACI ’21

Translation and Interpretation Program Chair Julie Johnson added, “I’m overflowing with admiration and respect for Rony Gao and Ye Yu and all our Chinese students and colleagues. This is huge and a real testament to all your hard work.”

A Supportive Academic Community

Both students emphasized the role that the supportive academic community at MIIS played in their success. Said Yu, “I could never have won the prize without the help and support of my professors. I would also like to thank all of my classmates for their encouragement. You all mean so much to me!”

“I think preparing for the contest triggered a ‘Eureka’ moment for me,” added Gao. “I was able to internalize all the feedback I’d received over several semesters in an effort to deliver my best 15 minutes in the booth. Like any competition, it was nerve-racking, but also truly gratifying when we saw that all the hard work paid off.”