Staffing for Japanese Guest Relations at Sakura-Con

What is ANCEA/Sakura-Con?

From ANCEA website:

The Asia-Northwest Cultural Education Association (ANCEA) is a registered non-profit corporation. Every year, ANCEA participates in various cultural and educational events. Sakura-Con is ANCEA’s main event and realization of the ANCEA mission to educate about Asian Culture, with a focus on Japanese Animation, Comics, Gaming and Cultural Arts.

Sakura-Con is the oldest and most well-attended anime convention in the Pacific Northwest. Sakura-Con features cultural exploration and education through traditional and contemporary media, arts and entertainment. Sakura-Con includes: musical performances, Guest of Honor participation, discussion panels, games, contests (costumes and skit performances), theaters, traditional Asian arts and an exhibitors’ hall for the sale of Anime related merchandise by third party vendors.

ANCEA is a membership-based all-volunteer organization. The controlling administrative body for ANCEA (and thus Sakura-Con) is an Executive Board that’s main function is to put on the main ANCEA event, Sakura-Con, and to generally steward the ANCEA mission.

The Executive Board is democratically elected by the voting membership (volunteer staff) after first being nominated by the general member pool (Sakura-Con attendee members and volunteer staff). No member of ANCEA or staffer of Sakura-Con is paid for their participation as per the organization’s Bylaws.

Sakura-Con attendee members are encouraged to become more fully involved and are invited to attend all General ANCEA/Sakura-Con meetings and to consider joining the volunteer staff. They are also encouraged to attend “Team Sakura” events which include listings of local Asian Cultural events.

Secondary ANCEA events have included various tables, appearances and productions at local arts and cultural festivals including: the Seattle International Children’s Festival , Aki Matsuri in Bellevue Washington, Densho’s Sushi Sake Fest and at the Seattle Public Library Annual Staff Day. Additional members events have included a Hong Kong Film night, Japan Day with the Seattle Mariners and discounts at local events such as the Seattle Symphony’s Final Fantasy series.

ANCEA and Sakura-Con are regularly recognized by national, state and local officials. Examples include: The Japanese Consulate General in Seattle, who regularly speaks at Sakura-Con’s Opening Ceremonies, Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. In 2009 Mayor Nickels proclaimed April 9th to be “Sakura-Con Day” in the City of Seattle.

For more information, check the Sakura-Con website at http://sakuracon.org.

Why Staff at Sakura-Con Japanese Guest Relations?

  • Interact with guests of honor at personal level.
  • It is great way to keep your Japanese skill current.
  • We have great people in our team of various backgrounds. We are all friendly, and passionate about what we do.
  • It’s one more thing you can write on your resume.

Position Responsibilities

As the case with the all staff positions at Sakura-Con, both of these positions are volunteer positions and there are no monetary compensations. Sakura-Con is a 100% volunteer-run convention.

For Attending Liaisons

  • Coordinate personal communications between other staff members, attendees, and others inside and outside of the convention.
  • Attending liaisons are responsible for managing his/her guest’s schedule inside the convention as well as taking them to sightseeing and meals.
  • Interface with other staff and industry members during relevant convention activities.
  • Convey requests and inquiry from a guest to the convention and vice-versa.
  • Attending liaisons may be assigned as a floater as needed. Floaters are tasked for supportive assignment rather than for particular guests.

For Stage Interpreters

  • Attend to event (panel/press sessions) at Sakura-Con and provide formal interpretation services between guests and general audiences.
  • Familiarize with contents pertinent for the guest he/she is interpreting for.

Requirements

Linguistic Requirements

  • Applicants must possess a level of conversational Japanese skill appropriate for most typical business settings.
  • Stage interpreters must be able to communicate in more strict context, as well be comfortable speaking in front of general audiences.

Japanese Language Proficiency Expectations

Judging if your Japanese skills are good enough for the assignment is often tricky as everyone has different background. Therefore, the following is more of a guideline rather than the rule. These are there to help you determine if your Japanese language skills are appropriate for the assignment.

  • Especially if you are not a native Japanese speaker (or have not immersed to Japanese speaking environment for at least few years), having experience in college level formal Japanese language training would be ideal.
  • As a general guideline, attending liaisons should have a Japanese language skills equivalent of JLPT N3 level or above, and event interpreters should have language skills equivalent of JLPT N2 level or above.
  • We will not expect your Japanese to be native, but it must be good enough that you can carry out conversation in manner appropriate for business settings. Rather than evaluating these aspects of skills individually, we value more of the balance in Japanese language/cultural skills. Generally speaking, as long as you meet certain baseline, we will have an assignment appropriate for your level. If you are not sure if your Japanese is good enough for the assignment, we are more than happy to help you determine your skills for you.
  • Honorific Speech – Though it is not expected that you will be perfect; which can be difficult for even native Japanese speakers, knowing some honorific speech is expected. In the context of your assignment, you do not have to be overly formal, but at least knowing how to speak in politely will be expected.
  • Cultural Context – Sometimes there are situations where cultural sensibilities are in play. While, it is not always easy to perfectly identify and correct these issues, you should have understand these cultural sensitivities exist while you are dealing between Japanese guests and attendees as well as staff of the convention. In some cases, there are politically incorrect (that may not be so for other party) questions that can arise from either party; and you should be able to assist in moderating such instances.
  • Some Japanese reading skills are preferred as you may encounter cases where you may need to understand written Japanese brought by our guests. However, this is not critical and we are more than happy to offer assistance as needed. Japanese writing skills, let alone handwriting Japanese is not generally required. Some skills of typing in Japanese may be required if you are interested involving in pre-convention functions.
  • We do not require Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), but if you do have any JLPT accreditation, please let us know when applying.

Attendance Requirements

  • Be available all day from Thursday evening to Monday on a week of the convention.
  • For both positions, being able to stay onsite for the duration of the convention and days with assignment.[1]
  • Attending liaisons are assigned all day. (we do not take shifts)
  • Stage interpreters are assigned to each events he/she is assigned to, but expected to be on site and available as on-call basis.
  • If you have to start late or end early, please let me know; in some cases adjustments are possible, however, please note this may limit your assignment options.
  • We will need some staffs for the Tuesday after the convention. If you are available, please let us know.

Other Requirements

  • 21 years or older preferred. But if you are 18 years or older, please inquire if you meet other requirements. Due to the convention policy, you will have to be 18 years old or older at the start of your assignment.
  • While the extended knowledge of the Seattle area is not mandatory (but please familiarize yourself as much as you can), but is a big plus for attending liaisons.
  • Stage interpreters may be required to comprehend relevant topics for anime and manga and music production, as well as title/artist specific terms in fairly short notice.
  • Each staff is responsible for arranging his/her methods of arriving and leaving the convention center as well as expenses related to that.
  • Must be able to attend to the assignment with a high degree of professionalism, integrity and focus. We strive to be the most professional sub-department of the convention.
  • Please remember, you will be representing the convention with high level of visibility. Abusing perks and privileges will not be tolerated.

Communications Requirements

  • The all positions require working mobile phone during the convention. You are also expected to be able to receive communication via E-mail and through websites before the convention.[2]
  • A smartphone and data plan will make things much simpler for us, especially when considering routine communication can involve 20 to 30 people in the group. Currently, we primarily use LINE and Signal and maybe some others, however, this is a subject to change when there are better alternatives.[3]
  • When a staff choose to not be compliant with this, it is his/her own responsibility to coordinate communication and stay up to date with the rest of the team. This will inevitably limit your assignment possibilities.

Interested?

Please E-mail hideki@sakuracon.org with the following:

  • A brief introduction of yourself.
  • Please state relevant qualifications and activities as appropriate

In addition, please provide the following if available:

  • Your Resume or CV
  • A reference from current Sakura-Con staff if you have – with their name and position. Having a reference from current and past Japanese Guest Liaison may help expedite process.


[1] Exceptions may be granted for the case such as person living in walking distance, no more than 10 minutes away

[2] Most of relations-specific websites are tested using the newest Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

[3] Communication platforms are considered and selected with its feature and platform it covers. As these applications are installed and operated in conjunction with free-will of each staff, the group does not have authority to force you to use certain platform. It will be, however, your own responsibility to coordinate communication process with other staffs if you choose to deviate.