Written by: Laine Ferrer-George, 2017 NOTIS Scholarship Recipient for the ATA Annual Conference
I had so much fun and excitement when I attended my first American Translators Association (ATA) Annual Conference and first ever trip to Washington D.C. from October 25 to October 28, 2017. It has been my wish since I became an interpreter in 2015 to be able to experience an event like this where over 1,700 members gather annually to gain and exchange new ideas and knowledge in order to expand and strengthen their businesses and skills. I am forever grateful to the NOTIS Scholarship Committee for making my wish a reality and for giving me the opportunity to experience what it feels like to belong to a top-notch association comprised of highly educated and capable translators and interpreters from all around the country!
When I first looked at the conference program, all I could say was “wow!” It was filled with activities that took months of planning. There were over 170 educational sessions as well as an exhibit hall, a job fair, division meetings and dinners, networking gatherings, and other special events. It could be an overwhelming and intimidating experience for a new attendee.
However, as a first-time attendee, or a “newbie,” I signed up to have a seasoned attendee, or a “buddy,” to make things easier for myself. My assigned buddy, Christine, is a professional freelance Spanish translator from Brooklyn, New York. She was very helpful in guiding me and introducing me to all her new and long-time friends. My roommate, Kathryn, became my second buddy. She is also a Spanish translator and a NOTIS member from Seattle, Washington. I felt so at ease with both of them, especially since they had been attending the conference for a long time and were familiar with all the ropes already!
During the conference, I was exposed to various learning tools and resources available to translators and interpreters. When you become an ATA member, you earn access all kinds of online professional development information and webinars. The ATA directory is another valuable resource that connects you with agencies, translators, interpreters, and students. As a result of my membership, I have been contacted by agencies for various projects.
The best advice I received from one of the educational speakers was to always listen carefully and understand the meaning of what we are trying to interpret first before making a rendition. This requires a lot of critical thinking because without meaning, translation and interpretation is lost.
I was also impressed by ATA President David Rumsey’s opening speech in which he described the ATA as a home, such “that we’re continually improving our house, where the living room is always welcoming to our new and old guests, and we share knowledge and ideas, so we can all achieve success in making our profession better.” I think this statement captured the essence of why we celebrate this annual event. It is like having a big family reunion where connections are built together to strengthen long-lasting relationships.
Overall, my first ATA Annual Conference experience has energized and motivated me to continuously improve myself. I encourage other NOTIS members to attend this memorable event at least once! Thanks again, NOTIS. Now, I can proudly say that I am no longer a “newbie!”