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For me, the 2016 Spring Festival was unusual. I will go to college in the US in September, so the Spring Festival of the Year of Monkey would be my last Spring Festival spent with my family before my departure for the US. Besides all these, there was something else meaningful: we had a special guest in our house, she is the consul general from Irish Consulate in Shanghai, Therese Healy, her Chinese name is He Li.

To experience more the atmosphere of Chinese New Year, Therese purposely looked for a family in Nanjing, due to my background as an exchange student in the US and my experience in receiving American students, I was very lucky to be chosen to host her to celebrate the Spring Festival of the Year of Monkey in our house. My parents and I began busy preparing a nice New Year dinner for Therese. My mother always said there must be 10 dishes for the New Year’s Eve dinner, which symbolized “perfection in every way”. But for this year, we prepared 11 dishes for the sake of this special guest. Dinner was just a small part of our Spring Festival activities. During the holiday, we made a full schedule. We wen sightseeing a lot. We visited places of interest and cultural sites --- Yuejiang Tower, Fuzi Temple, Jiangnan Examination Office, Qinhuai Painted Boats, Zhonghuamen and the city wall, Laomendong, the Grand Gratitude Temple, the Museum of the Six Dynasties, Jiangnan Weaving Museum and Nanjing Museum. The only pity was that our holiday was too short for us to visit all those relics in Nanjing. In fact, of all the places we went during the Spring Festival, it was my first time that I had visited some of them. For the sake of Therese, I had an opportunity to take a look at those interesting culture landmark, or else I don’t know when I could have time and opportunity to do so.

When talking about those places of interest, what I want to say most is I interpreted for Therese, and it was the first time to know how hard it was to be an interpreter. I was an exchange student in America for a semester, I speak good English, so I didn’t have any problem when I communicate with Therese about common issues. When we visited Yuejiang Tower, I didn’t expect it hard to be an interpreter. But when I did, I realize I was wrong. Many traditional Chinese culture phrases have no English counterparts. Sometimes, a simple concept requires a whole paragraph to explain.When we talked about allusions or jokes, it was even harder to interpret. In most cases, I thought I had explained fully, but Therese didn’t seem to get it. Culture difference was a big obstacle between us. For example, when we were enjoying the night scenery on the painted boat in Fuzi Temple, the Chinese guide gave an introduction, she used one or two lines of poems now and then like “ Three mountains half fell outside the green sky, two waters evenly divided by a egret island”. I had to yield. At Jiangnan Examination Office, the tour guide introduced the exam system, I explained “village exam”, “palace exam”to Therese with quite some efforts. As an interpreter, you have to focus on what is said all the time, you can’t miss any detail that the tour guide says.I translated what the tour guide said part by part, I couldn’t imagine how hard it was to be a spontaneous interpreter. I realized from my own difficulty that in order to have Chinese culture walk out towards the outer world, what we need is not only someone who knows about Chinese culture, but someone who can deliver Chinese culture to people all over the world. 

Let’s talk a little bit about Therese. She’s very talkative. When we talked about Irish history, she had a lot to say, for those who didn’t know her would  have thought that she was a historian. I felt ashamed of myself that =I once thought Ireland was part of the UK,but later on I got to know that Ireland and North Ireland were completely different, Ireland is an independent country, and Her culture atmosphere is quite different from that of Britain. From those conversations with Therese, we learned some Irish traditional festivals, beautiful environment and the cultural development. I, an inexperienced student, dared to ask why she didn’t take a bodyguard with her when she was out. ( Ican’t help laughing at myself when I think of this now ), she gave a humorous response,”the family that receives me is so reliable, why do I need a bodyguard?”later she explained, because Ireland was a small country, which has not conflicts with any other country or area in the world, so Irish diplomats need no worry about assassination or terror attack wherever they go. Therese also said that she saw with her own eyes that President Obama sat in a car with a lot of protection when he visited Ireland, just for fear that he might be attacked. When President Obama arrived, the car door couldn’t be opened because it was too heavy, that was so embarrassing. We laughed a lot at this funny story, meanwhile, we learned more about the culture and diplomacy about Irland. 

It is worth mentioning Therese’s passion for learning. While staying with us, she went to Gan Xi’s Former Residence to study Chinese almost every morning. She took home with her homework that needed to spend 2 to 3 hours to finish. Now matter how crazily we played outside home in Nanjing, she always concentrated on her homework at we often praise her for her “live to old, study to old”( haha, this was “invented by my mother, which means “never too old to learn”) moreover, Therese had a Kindle handy, when we had nothing to do and kept looking at our cell phones, she was always reading, learned new things. No wonder that she was a consul general, while we were not, we often sighed with admiration. 
On the whole, we had one more week for this Spring Festival, I had a great time, feeling fulfilled and fruitful. Though busy and exhausted, I consider my last Spring Festival meaningful and fun. I hope our NFLS students will be culture messengers between China and the world, helping Chinese culture walk out toward the whole world, becoming real modern people with a Chinese soul and a global mind.