The U.S. Department of State’s Corps of Student Interpreters

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Following the examples of European nations, China and Japan, the UnitedStates Department of State established a Corps of Student Interpreters (1902–1924) to provide in-country language training in China, Japan, and Turkey. Thischapter discusses the program’s rationale, precursors and models, and factorsimpacting its establishment and implementation. Recruitment challenges, selectioncriteria, and the career progression of student interpreters are examinedon the basis of program documentation. Excerpts of correspondence betweensenior diplomats provide insight into the program’s genesis, and the memoirs ofstudent interpreters posted to China relate personal impressions of in-countryexperience. A possible precursor to the diplomatic interpreting of today, theCorps is situated in a broader framework of language training for interpretersand diplomats.


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