Impressions of ATA’s 54th Annual Conference in San Antonio

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– by Tania Penido (PLD member) – 

My only complaint about the ATA Annual Conference in general has to do with timing. I should clarify that I’m from Brazil and I like it hot! Still, I wonder why the conference is held in late October/early November every year. These dates are in the middle of prime season for freelancers, especially for interpreters. Also, it’s chilly or downright cold in most U.S. cities and hurricane season in some.

Weather complaints aside, the conference this year was as rewarding as usual, in all ways. I again arrived a few days early, to do some sightseeing. I really enjoyed the Alamo, the missions, the Ghost Tour and dinner at the revolving restaurant at Hemisphere Tower. Overall, it was a great few days of vacation.

The conference itself was, as always, an excellent opportunity to network, which included visiting with old friends and meeting new people. I have attended the occasional ATA conference since the one in San Francisco in 1997. My first conference as a translator was a turning point in my life: it felt like I was diving head first into a brand new world of agencies, clients and freelancers.

ATA 54 was the first conference I attended after deciding to add interpreting to my activities and getting my interpreting degree from PUC-Rio. I was, therefore, very pleased about the strong emphasis on interpreting this year. Two sessions stood out for me as rare and valuable opportunities. One was Harry Obst, who spoke of his experiences as a White House interpreter under five presidents. The other was by an interpreter who worked at the very beginning of simultaneous interpreting: the Nuremberg trials. At these two sessions I felt like I also was a witness to history.

I enjoyed the Portuguese language sessions as well. Luciana Carvalho, our very well chosen Division Distinguished Speaker, was memorable. She spoke about cultural clashes affecting U.S. and Brazilian legal professionals. Americans and Europeans may never understand how personal and subjective Brazilians can be, even during formal testimony. Luciana did a great job of shedding light on this important issue.

It was really nice to see old friends, make new contacts and put a face and voice to clients I had met through e-mail only. I’m already looking forward to the next conference!

Tania Penido Sampaio is a translator and interpreter in Rio de Janeiro who enjoys ballroom dancing, travelling and travel’s best companions: wine and gastronomy.

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