From August 1 to August 19, I had participated in an unpaid internship at NPO Lighthouse, a support center for human trafficking victims in Japan. I had participated with a friend of mine, who had given me this idea in the first place, and in this 3 weeks our primary goal was to finish translating a manga created by Lighthouse called Blue Heart. This was a project we had already started in our Combating Human Trafficking group, as the manga that Lighthouse had published is in Japanese. The manga consists of 3 stories, based on real life accounts, of different situations of minors being sexually trafficked. As we saw the content was worth spreading to as wide an audience as possible, we thought that translating the content on the manga into English would raise awareness among a much wider and international audience about the severity of the issue in Japan.
As we already knew Ms. Segawa, the PR officer for Lighthouse, and Shihoko Fujiwara, the founder of Lighthouse, we were already comfortable in the small work setting. We had scheduled that we would go to office on Mondays to Fridays, from 11:00~18:00. On this condition, we were present everyday on out schedule, and managed to stay throughout the whole time. The entire group consisted of only 3 full time workers (Ms. Fujiwara was on maternal leave at the time) and between 3 to 5 volunteer workers on a good day. Thanks to this small group, we were able to become close to each other and have colloquial conversations while being able to work collaborative with each other. The people at Lighthouse were extremely warm hearted, and took us out for lunch on the first and last day, and would bring a snack to office every day for us to have as a snack.
While working towards completing the translation project, I had worked predominantly with my friend, where we would work on different sections of a chapter and then check each other’s work. Where our translation group at CHT took an entire semester and could only finish one section, we as a pair managed to finish translating the entire manga in a week. This is now being sent to professional translators to be revised. In addition, we collaboratively worked with the members of Lighthouse when translating their website into English, working on an English promotional video, and most abundantly when we were invited to the Johnson&Johnson main office in Shibuya with Ms. Segawa and the secretary of Lighthouse to give thanks for their grant, and to briefly go over the activity in which we have contributed towards, which my friend and I were able to contribute with.
Perhaps the two biggest challenges we faced were working with completely new people for the first time and working completely in Japanese. Although both of us were fluent in conversational Japanese, we were not accustomed to the way to speak in a Japanese work environment, which is much different from colloquial Japanese. While we were able to have casual conversations with members of the group, we initially struggled with communicating while conducting more official works. However, throughout the 3 weeks we were able to develop the skill and language proficiency to be able to speak in an official setting like at Johnson&Johnson’s office.
Out of all the days we had scheduled to go, we were able to go everyday throughout the designated times we had scheduled. In addition, we had managed to complete every task we were given from the group, whether that be completing the manga translation, the website translation, an interview that is conducted with interns, and the promotional video on their donation program. Although we had some moments where we were not focused on our work and had our laughs with the people at Lighthouse, we were able to stay committed to whatever goals we had set and be able to achieve those goals.
Knowing that the group is working towards legally prosecuting traffickers in Japan, and seeing the calls they get from such victims from the hotline service, and the number of times the consulting team is not in office due to an appointment with a client, I can safely say that the group is legitimately working towards a good cause to create a safer and more enjoyable society for younger children and adults. While my friend and I are not qualified to physically go out and help people, a delicate job that should only be done by those trained for it, we were able to contribute in spreading the word of this organization to a much wider audience by translating their content into English, for the vast number of English-speakers in Japan and around the world. This task is what was asked for by the members of the group, and they have shown that they have benefitted from the publicizing of the organization’s movement.