Fond memories for Presidential Office's English consultant

01/20/2015 12:54 PM
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Taipei, Jan. 11 (CNA) David Mayer, who has served as an English consultant for President Ma Ying-jeou since 2008, looked back fondly recently on his time in Taiwan and working for the president ahead of his planned retirement this month.

Mayer told CNA that when he first applied for an opening with an unnamed government agency through the Government Information Office in 2008, he had no idea what the job would entail or who his boss would be.

It was only after progressing through a first round of interviews and a written test and then being interviewed by Ma for about 10 minutes that he realized the opening was at the Presidential Office.

Mayer's job mainly involves editing drafts and news releases for the Presidential Office and some English-language releases for the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs, he said.

Though he has not had many chances to interact with the president, Mayer said that based on Ma's calls checking on points in the drafts or notes he made next to sentences asking for clarification, he feels the president is hard-working and diligent and paid close attention to details.

Mayer, who also speaks Spanish and Japanese, felt Ma's English was pretty good as well.

The 55-year-old first came to Taiwan in 1984 after studying at the University of Kansas to learn Mandarin Chinese.

After taking a three-month program at National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei, Mayer continued to study the language in Tianjin, China, the following year.

Mayer felt "very happy" in Taipei living a "normal person's" life, in contrast to Tianjin where he lived with other international students and had to get official permission to come in contact with local people.

The experience was such that he has never been back to China since.

After his year in Tianjin, he returned to Taiwan and taught English in cram schools, before getting married to a Taiwanese woman in 1986 and then moving back to the U.S.

From 1993-1998, Mayer taught English in Japan and learned the language there.

Mayer said he is on good terms with his colleagues at the Presidential Office and has played on the ping pong team and participated in mountaineering club activities.

As to what his most difficult assignment was, Mayer said it was dealing with the English versions of Presidential orders to eulogize people from all walks of life because the language used often contained terms from classical Chinese that referred to Chinese history or culture.

Mayer, who plans to retire this month to give himself more free time to travel and do other things, says he will continue living in Taiwan.

(By Kelven Huang and Kuo Chung-han)


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