Last week found me in Atlanta, Georgia for a whirlwind weekend with the Atlanta Association of Interpreters and Translators (AAIT). Local organizations are vital to keeping our profession alive, and it was an honor to be able to attend and present at this one. I wanted to share my experience with those of you who weren’t lucky enough to be there. (And okay, so I don’t think peaches were in season, but the rest of the food in Atlanta was so good that I may find an excuse to start interpreting there!)
The wealth of information presented just on day 1 of the conference was truly staggering.
From 9:30am to 5:30pm we attended no fewer than six presentations in a big auditorium. The theme was T & I, Gig or Profession? Loana Denis presented on Understanding the Landscape of Industry Standards. Romina Marazzato Sparano spoke on machine translation and the day ended with a panel consisting of four veteran interpreters and translators: John Botero, Maria Ceballos-Wallis, Glynis Mitchell and Eva de Vallescar. Day 2 consisted of workshops on interpreting and translation. Yours truly was proud to present Skills-Building for Seasoned Interpreters!
Here were my conference highlights:
- Katharine Allen, our keynote speaker, opened the conference with an eloquent history of our field, all focused on where we’ve been, where we are, and where we are going. She gave us a lot of food for thought when it came to machine translation and remote interpreting. She walked us through a demonstration of how our industry is booming and only expected to get bigger as the global market increases. At the same time, the threat of artificial intelligence looms large. In order to succeed, she insisted, we must diversify and make technology work with us instead of against us.
- Amanda Williams (the “adorkable” translator) presented Contracts: Friends or Foes? In just 45 minutes she gave an incredibly thorough and informative lecture on how to protect yourself as a translator through contracts (disclaimer: always have a lawyer review it first!) I know that when I was just starting out as an interpreter, I did not give contracts the detailed review that I should have, and I wasn’t aware of my rights to negotiate or simply not sign a contract. I won’t be forgetting Ms. William’s advice anytime soon.
- Glynis Ramos-Mitchell and her colleagues from Cobb County school district gave a fascinating overview of their life as education interpreters. Their school district is incredibly diverse, with families needing services in everything from Spanish to Vietnamese and Nepali. Their system of dispatching interpreters to every corner of their school district, which is the biggest employer in the county, was extremely impressive. Their presentation also highlighted education interpreting, which is an aspect of our profession that tends to be ignored. Indeed, I have been guilty of overlooking their impact and status as a domain that is just as noteworthy as court and medical. I plan to correct this immediately!
The conference, organized by Rose M. Tello, Carola Lehmacher and Celina Gonzalez Posse was extremely well put together, both in content and distribution. This was also reflected in the short lunch lines; the food had been pre-packaged for our convenience and pleasure! (You may laugh, but well-fed, stress-free interpreters are happy interpreters!) There were lots of chances to network and get to know other professionals in the field. Going to events like this makes us all realize we are part of something so much bigger than ourselves, and I hope you get a chance to go to one soon. Such as NAJIT’s conference in June, for example, where (warning: Shameless Advertising Ahead!) I will be giving a pre-conference workshop for advanced interpreters hoping to increase their skills and possibly take the Federal Interpreting Exam. (The title is Federal Interpreters or Bust, and you should definitely register. Hint. Hint.) CLICK HERE to sign up now, and I’ll see you in San Francisco!
[Also published at www.najit.org/blog on May 4th, 2018.]