“Herr Yamashiro bevorzugt Kartoffeln” is a novel by Christoph Peters that is as yet unpublished in Italy. Based on real life events, it tells the story of a Japanese ceramics expert who agrees to travel to Germany in the period following the fall of the Berlin wall to oversee the construction of a traditional Japanese oven. Everybody back home attempts to dissuade him (how will you manage without rice and sake? How will you sleep without your futon?), but Mr Yamashiro is undeterred and in the end has no trouble getting used to German beds, schnapps and potatoes. A meeting of two very distant worlds, the novel provides a perfect example of internationalization. Translating it from German into Italian was the subject of my dissertation for my master’s degree.
The job of the translator, or indeed the interpreter, might seem dull, but no one sentence is ever the same as another. By the same token, our clients, the companies we work with, are all unique and – while perhaps appearing somewhat inflexible – are capable, with the aid of a little polite encouragement, of amazing us with their ability to tackle new challenges – just like Mr Yamashiro.
As an introvert who is more inclined to listen than to talk, my time at Multi has seen me undergo a metamorphosis. After the traumatic experience of my first telephone call in German (I don’t know why, but somehow, instead of the company I was trying to call, I got the emergency dispatch centre of the German police!), I have learnt how to deal with things with a great deal more calm and have found over time, talking – but also listening – and channelling the spirit of Mr Yamashiro – that this fosters goodwill and understanding and can help transform opportunities and projects into reality.