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Bridget Pearson and Mr Wang outside Leeds Civic Hall

I  interpreted in Leeds for Jiong Wang, the Director of Hangzhou Municipal Disabled Person’s Federation. He came as part of the Hangzhou Civil Servants’ Exchange to explore Hangzhou’s twin city.  The week involved trips to various different centres for disabled people around Leeds and it was really interesting to watch the relationships between the UK and China blossom as Mr Wang found out more about the facilities available. It was a great experience and quite amusing at times, especially when difficulties arose in communicaton. One particular anecdote that springs to mind is when Mr Wang used a Chinese proverb to describe the growing relationship between Leeds City Council and Access Committee Leeds at the Mariners Resource Centre.

Gill Crawshaw, Development Worker from Volition, and Mr Wang

Gill Crawshaw works at Volition, the voluntary sector mental health network in Leeds. She wrote the following about the service provided:-

“It was great to meet and work with Bridget at a meeting with a member of a Chinese delegation to Leeds in June 2012. She had the difficult task of interpreting some specialised concepts and ideas around mental health stigma and discrimination, and her preparation before the meeting and communication skills during it ensured the conversation went smoothly. This was also helped by her interest in and sensitivity to mental health issues, which I particularly valued.”

Whilst we were in the taxi heading to Shine Business Centre in Harehills, we found that the taxi driver was from Hong Kong. Mr Wang was absolutely fascinated by this and very much enjoyed chatting with him in Chinese. It was a pleasure to work with Alice Fox and Karen Murgatroyd from Leeds City Council and I am very grateful that they allowed me to have this experience.  She wrote the following comments about my contribution:-

Alice Fox from Leeds City Council, Mr Wang and Bridget at the Mariners Resource Centre, Beeston

“Bridget recently assisted Leeds City Council with Mandarin translation services when a civil servant from one of our partner cities visited from Hangzhou, China.  The visit involved discussing quite complex issues, but Bridget quickly familiarised herself with the terminology and it was clear that she had done lots of preparation work.  Her timekeeping was excellent. Bridget was also available to accompany our visitor on a cultural tour of the city, which he found most enjoyable and informative.  I would like to recommend Bridget as a translator.”

Visit to Hangzhou, China

Jiong Wang and Bridget Pearson in Hangzhou, East China

Six months later (September 2012) I met Jiong Wang in his hometown,  Hangzhou. I was visiting the city as part of a trade delegation to China organised by Sheffield Chamber of Commerce along with other delegates from the Sheffield area. Mr Wang treated us all to a Chinese banquet at a hotel near his workplace (六通宾馆). I interpreted for the other members of the delegation, the main topic of conversation was the history and culture of the famous West Lake (西湖) situated in the centre of the city, which is a major attraction for tourists all over the world. Particularly amongst the Chinese Hangzhou is known as a paradise on earth: “Heaven Above, and Hangzhou below.” (上有天堂,下有苏杭).  I was impressed to see that Chinese tourist industries are facilitating disabled services as was evident with the signs on the West Lake. Mr Wang sends his best wishes to all at Leeds City Council and said he hopes the relationship between Leeds and Hangzhou can blossom over time and when he is not too busy with work he will visit Leeds again!

Evidence of Disabled Access in Hangzhou

Boat on the West Lake in Hangzhou, China

West Lake, Hangzhou (西湖,杭州)