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I was different, but that worked to my advantage
My Name is Kamal Zaza. I was born and raised in Egypt and I am a graduate of foreign languages and translation. My major is the Japanese language.
How did you learn the Japanese Language?
Early in my youth my parents realized that I had a talent for learning different languages. I was just copying words and dialogue that I heard in the movies. I also used to get the highest marks at school in foreign language classes, which at the time was English and French.
When I became older I decided to study a foreign language that was considered difficult and that not a lot of people could speak. Since Japanese was already well known in Egypt from the influence of anime and Japanese pop culture it was the first new language to come to my mind that I wanted to learn. After finishing high school I attended Misr University for Science and Technology, a private university based in Giza Governorate. Everyone used to look at Cairo University students as the best in Egypt, but I was different, and I aspired to become better than Cairo University students in Japanese language.
During my third year at university I started working at a papyrus shop selling the ancient Egyptian paper to Japanese tourists. In fact, I didn’t manage to sell much papyrus paper but I used to receive nice comments from them when I explained in their language how ancient Egyptians used to make the papyrus paper.
After graduation I was about to work at a travel company but because of the Egyptian revolution all tourists stopped coming to Egypt and therefore I lost my opportunity to start my career in the travel industry. But I didn’t give up. I decided to travel to Japan with an academic scholarship but because I graduated from a private university in Egypt my chances were very low, so I decided to work with my English language at a call center. I also did some freelance translation and switched jobs to a translation company as a vendor manager. Eventually I was admitted to the Masters program at Cairo University and finally got the chance to travel to Japan.
I went to Japan in 2015 and stayed there for one whole year! I was different from other students and didn’t travel to tourist places for sightseeing. I wanted to see the real Japanese culture, so I took two part time jobs while studying at Kyushu University. I used to hang out with my Japanese friends going to Japanese restaurants called “Izakaya” at night after my work shift ended or I would just walk in the streets, or sometimes take trips with fellow members of Circles (college activity groups).
How did you discover Workshift?
After studying with the scholarship I moved to Dubai to work at a leisure services distributer company supporting Japanese, Arabic and English speaking clients.
While looking for jobs in Dubai I came across the Workshift website. Even though my expectations for winning translation jobs were low, I decided to register and try my luck. Then, one day, I received a call from a staff member of Workshift offering me a translation project. From that day forward my journey with Workshift had started and subsequently my trust in them grew. Now I get projects from Workshift from time to time.
What makes Workshift different from other online platforms is that there is a dedicated team working behind the website that makes any translator put all their trust and respect in them.
What are your thoughts on Japanese Clients?
From my own experience with Japanese clients I can tell that they are the best to work with if you are accurate with what you are doing, respect promises and deliver at a level of exceeding expectations. They appreciate what you do. But on the other hand if you lose their trust, you lose it forever.
One of my most memorable projects from Workshift was to accompany a Japanese client who was conducting market research here in Dubai and to translate between him and his counterparts at an event. He was very friendly and we hung out after work. Just before returning to Japan he sent me a heartfelt thank you email. The email briefly mentioned that, apart from the job, he learned new things from me about Dubai and that he enjoyed his stay here big time. He also said he would certainly visit Dubai again and in return he would invite me to have fun next time I visit Japan.