Senior translators commended for tourism services

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Four senior citizens who volunteer to help Japanese tourists at New Taipei City’s Rueifang Railway Station were honored yesterday by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

The Golden Road Awards is a prestigious event for ministry employees and people in the industry, with 54 institutions and individuals receiving commendations this year, the ministry said on Tuesday.

The four are Lee Chun-chang (李春長), 91; Wang Hsiao-tui (王孝敦), 90; Hsu Chen Pei (許陳配), 89; and Chen Chin-feng (陳金鳳), 86, it said.

Many Japanese visit Rueifang District (瑞芳), as sites such as Jioufen (九份) and Jinguashih (金瓜石) were significant during the Japanese colonial era, it said.

Hsu Chen, who speaks fluent Japanese, in 2008 was asked by her son, then chief of the station, to organize volunteers to help translate for visitors, the ministry said.

The team works year-round and can be seen answering questions from visitors from Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as Taiwanese, about the station’s services and local attractions, it said, adding that the station has received letters from Japanese visitors thanking the volunteers for their assistance.

The original 12-member team is now down to four, Lee said on Tuesday, adding that they were motivated by a desire to help the development of the district and hopes someone would pick up the torch.

The team is charged with answering questions from Japanese tourists and helping them find attractions, although they also help people from other nations, he said.

Taiwan has a reputation for hospitality that he upholds in his work, a big part of which involves helping people find lost items and navigating train services, Lee said.

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When tourists ask for help locating a lost cellphone, Hsu said that she always asks to call the number, as the gadget is usually buried in the visitor’s pocket or purse.

The ministry also presented a lifetime achievement award to Tsai Pan-aur (蔡攀鰲), a retired National Cheng Kung University professor of civil engineering, who is known for his contributions to flexible pavement design around the nation and mentorship of influential civil engineers.

During his 30-year career, Tsai conducted important research on asphalt and concrete, and emphasized the practical application of theory to his students, the ministry said.

After retiring in 1999, Tsai founded the Chinese Society of Pavement Engineering, which continues to play an important role in maintaining road quality throughout Taiwan, it said.

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