Dec 10, 2018

This week’s CHEER Champions of the Week are Yuri Kitayama, Noriko Hiwatashi, and Sanae Iwakami, 3 Japanese professional interpreters who provided simultaneous translation at the recent International Society for Research into Human Milk and Lactation (ISRHML) conference at Shonan Village in Kanagawa, Japan. CHEER Director Anne Merewood nominated them for their energy and patience simultaneously translating their way through 5 days of back-to-back presentations on human milk related topics, from the microbiome to Mississippi CHAMPS. CHAMPS presented on Mississippi’s amazing progress on the Baby-Friendly pathway. One lesson we learned from them is that “skin-to-skin” is called “skinship” in Japanese!

Each of the interpreters told us about their conference experience:

Yuri Kitayama, BA, President of Stage-Y Company and Coordinating Conference Interpreter shared: “We—Sanae, Noriko and myself—are mothers and have experienced breastfeeding in the past. We are simultaneous interpreters deeply involved in scientific and medical conferences and have a keen interest in the subject matter of this meeting.

“Before this conference I thought that human beings were greedy consumers of natural resources not contributing anything to the ecosystem. But this conference taught me that we females are also contributors of a valuable biological resource by producing and secreting human milk, and by doing so enhancing human health.

“I was most amazed to learn how constitution, volume and other features of human milk are regulated by mothers’ biology and how breast milk is made to be best suited for her human baby. We have seen in other scientific meetings that our gut microbiota is finalized during infancy and is very difficult to change in later life. That is why we need some heroic measures like fecal transplantation for treatment of some diseases related to gut microbiota. And the gut microbiota is the enormous endocrine organ with important functions. If milk is the most important determinant and the original source of gut microbiota of neonates and babies, I would imagine that babies inherit from their mothers either health or ill health not only through genetic or epigenetic mechanisms but also through lactation.

“I have learned in this meeting that we are all connected both horizontally and vertically through milk and lactation; and that the other half of the human race, men, are expected to help make this world a peaceful and healthy place for breastfeeding dyads.”

Noriko Hiwatashi, Freelance Conference Interpreter shared: “It has been quite interesting and encouraging to work for a conference where the participants were overwhelmingly female, especially when such an occasion is so rare in Japan. We appreciated that many
speakers came to the briefing sessions for us so that we were able to prepare for the simultaneous translation work.”

Sanae Iwakami, BA, Freelance Conference Interpreter shared: “I found the recent ISRHML conference truly multidisciplinary, represented by experts from many different fields from biology to policy as the title of the conference, “Protecting, Promoting and Supporting Breastfeeding from Biology to Policy,” indicates. I have always believed in breastfeeding, but I was reassured of the positive impact it can have on child and maternal health. To achieve this objective, ISRHML has been instrumental in bringing together knowledge from different disciplines and technologies. It was a great privilege and pleasure to work for the conference as an interpreter. I also want to echo the comments of my colleague in thanking the speakers for the briefings they provided.”

Congratulations, Yuri, Noriko, and Sanae! Thank you for these beautiful insights and the wonderful work you do!