Page 10 - Foreign Service Journal - April 2012

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F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / A P R I L 2 0 1 2
Lost in Translation
On Feb. 21 th
People’s Daily
Global Times
posted an article, “U.S.
Embassy Staff Test Totally ‘Fake.’” The
article by Yan Shuang reports: “A pic-
ture showing a written exam, which in-
cludes nine questions concerning sub-
jects like history, sociology, political sci-
ence, and evenmedicine and engineer-
ing, has been circulating on microblogs
and online forums.”
The “picture” is a Chinese transla-
tion of part of the Foreign Service exam
parody published in AFSA’s 2011 book,
Inside a U.S. Embassy: Diplomacy at
Apparently provoking a viral out-
break of consternation, the test ques-
tions were reposted 22,000 times on
Chinese online forums and microblogs
by Feb. 20.
“Many Web users doubted whether
it could be real, since it is too difficult,”
Global Times
notes, adding: “U.S. em-
bassy spokesman Richard Buangan
made clear on his Sina microblog yes-
terday that an alleged ‘recruitment test
for expatriate employees at the U.S.
embassy’ is fake.”
According to
Global Times
, the
questions were published in
news magazine next to an interview
with former Embassy Beijing Deputy
Chief of Mission Dan Picutta (who is
profiled in the book).
Among the translated test questions
was one on medicine: “You have been
provided with a razor blade, a piece of
gauze, and a bottle of Scotch. Remove
your appendix.” And another onmusic:
“Write a piano concerto. Orchestrate
and perform it with flute and drum.
You will find a piano under your seat.”
While it is hard to imagine that such
questions could be taken seriously, it
does appear that the humor may have
been lost in translation. Analysts intent
on divining why a “not real” test would
appear in a serious U.S. publication
seem to have missed the joke entirely.
Indeed, Yan Shuang quotes
writer Chen Jingson explaining
that their information was from
a U.S. Embassy
: “In Chapter Five they
introduced this test, and we took some
questions, translated them and made
our list.” The
Global Times
also notes
that the same exam was printed in the
June 2008
Foreign Service Journal
AFSA posted a clarification com-
ment on both news sites. It was ac-
cepted by
Global Times
, but was taken
down after a day. The same comment
was accepted for review by
but never appeared on the site.
To compound the irony, the same
week that the
People’s Daily
were clarifying that the test was a
fake, the AFSA-sanctioned Chinese
translation of
Inside a U.S. Embassy
(2005 edition) was received at AFSA
headquarters for review. With the help
of Embassy Beijing, AFSA is checking
that text carefully. Publication of the
Chinese edition is expected in May.
— Shawn Dorman,
Associate Editor
Haiti, Two Years after the Quake
Shortly before Christmas, Presi-
dent Barack Obama announced the
nomination of FSO Pamela Ann
White as the next U.S. ambassador to
Haiti. Chief of mission in The Gambia
until her nomination, Ambassador
White previously served as USAID
mission director in Liberia, Tanzania
t’s quite distressing to see two permanent members of the Security
Council using their veto while people are being murdered — women,
children, brave young men — and houses are being destroyed. It is just
despicable, and I ask, whose side are they on? They are clearly not on
the side of the Syrian people.
— Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking at the Feb. 25 Friends
of Syria conference in Tunis about the Russian and Chinese vetoes of a United
Nations Security Council resolution condemning Syrian President Bashir Assad;
U.S. News and World Report