When Hong Kong became part of China again

By Robin Nodland

One of the most unusual jobs that I did was captioning for the International Channel as they live-broadcasted the turnover of Hong Kong back to China from Great Britain.  Because of the time zone difference, this was done in the wee hours of the morning of June 30/July 1, 1997. My friend and business partner, Carol Studenmund, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, and I tag-teamed the broadcast, sleeping in between shifts. We sat in Carol’s living room with an audio feed of a team of interpreters translating from Mandarin to English, watching the live broadcast on the International Channel on cable TV. 

Carol is awesome and has many contacts in the captioning community, which led to her being contacted for this job.  Over the years she has generously shared these unusual jobs with me. Or, another way of putting it, has roped me in.

We knew from the start this would be different due to the historical significance of the event.  There was torrential rain throughout the ceremony, and Prince Charles and Prime Minister Tony Blair, playing their key parts, were getting drenched, rivulets running down their faces. The Chinese strategically placed them on the stage without a roof to protect them. 

At one point the team of interpreters must have forgot they were translating for us, the captioners, because they began to talk amongst themselves about the politics of this historic change and their suspicions that the Chinese would not honor the agreements they made with Britain. There was a moment when my hands hovered over my steno keyboard as I asked myself: “Do I actually write that?” Yep, I did. 

Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, is a freelance court reporter and agency owner based in Portland, Ore. She can be reached at rnodland@lnscourtreporting.com.