Monterey Institute of International Studies

Monterey Institute Professor Interprets for First Lady Michelle Obama During Visit to China

Laura Burian in China

Prof. Laura Burian (center-left) of the Monterey Institute interpreting for First Lady Michelle Obama in China. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

March 26, 2014 - 12:00am

“It was very inspiring to see our professor in action and working with such high-profile individuals,” says Joan Li-Chun Wang (MACI ’14) of the photos in national and international media showing Professor Laura Burian of the Monterey Institute next to First Lady Michelle Obama, serving as official interpreter during her visit to China.

It was no surprise to her students that Translation and Interpretation Prof. Burian is a highly accomplished and respected interpreter who works with the highest levels of government, but seeing her appear in media coverage of the First Lady’s visit to China hit home for many of them. “It serves as motivation for us, reminding us that we are not far away from interpreting at the top level,” says Weihao Zhang (MACI ’14), “and if we work hard, maybe one day we will be able to have such opportunities as well.”

Weihao Zhang was especially “thrilled” to hear that the First Lady had included his home high school in her itinerary. “In addition to its pioneering strides of connecting remote schools in rural areas with online classrooms, Chengdu #7 High School really stands out in its focus on international education and partnership.”

Joan Wang says that she could see from media reports and videos how crucial Prof. Burian’s role was in facilitating communications between the First Lady and the people she met. She adds that she thinks it was “nice to see how important to role of the interpreter is, especially to students of interpretation.”

Prof. Burian says that it was very exciting to participate in this trip: “I am truly honored to have been entrusted with this assignment.” For Weihao Zhang it was further evidence “that our education here at MIIS is provided by the most prestigious practitioners in the field, which is truly valuable.”

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