This year’s ATA conference took place in San Antonio, Texas, a unique and beautiful location! Just a few short blocks of The Alamo site, we translators and interpreters gathered at the Marriott Rivercenter. From the initial outward appearance, San Antonio resembles any other fairly large city. However, there is an entirely different world beneath it. At first, I couldn’t see what the attraction was. Then I noticed a sign that said Riverwalk and began my descent. All of a sudden, there was this beautiful, lush, and vibrant environment. The city built a fantastic, romantic park all along the San Antonio River that weaves throughout the city. Some areas were dedicated to peaceful contemplation, yet others had scores of restaurants.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
At 5:15 p.m., an extraordinary new event called Buddies Welcome Newbies came to order (or disorder). This event paired up first-timer attendees to the conference with an experienced buddy. I had the opportunity to meet Andre. He is currently serving his country and wants to use his language skills once he leaves the military. Andre became my friend as we got together periodically. We brainstormed as to his possible needs and how he can achieve those goals. I also introduced Andre to colleagues that were able to help him. This was a super idea; I hope it continues!
Welcome Reception, 6 p.m. There were several buffets with a wide variety of delicious food. I joined a group of language professionals while we dined; when I was done, we were friends. I was ecstatic to meet Tess Whitty, a blogger and Twitter aficionado (@Tesstranslates). I bounced around the room and caught up with old friends. Then I tried something new. I randomly approached anyone wearing a hat and introduced myself. This led to several unexpected remarkable conversations.
Interpreters/Medical Divisions Open House, 7 p.m. I reconnected with a great interpreter/translator in North Carolina. I am convinced that future collaboration is possible.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
I joined the Zumba class at 6 a.m. to wake up. There were only a few men in the class; none of us seemed to have any rhythm. At least we served as entertainment for the ladies. Nevertheless it was fun. I was pumped up after the class, and I made more great connections. I loved it so much, Zumba became my daily activity for the duration of the conference.
Breakfast: I chose fruit and oatmeal and joined the Carolina Association of Translators and Interpreters (CATI) and Friends table. I love my CATI members as they are such a supportive group. My connection with them always leads to meeting incredible people.
Lunch: My wife, Emily, our newbies and our entourage ate at Cafe Olé on the Riverwalk. We could not have had a better view! We shared our knowledge and brainstormed ideas for how to grow our businesses. I could have remained there all afternoon, but the sessions resumed at 2:30 p.m.
Dinner: I opted for dinner with the Interpreters and Medical Divisions in lieu of Speed Networking. Nevertheless, next year I will not miss the Speed Networking for sure! That is if I am alive and able to attend. Before heading to dinner, I ran into another favorite Twitter friend and blogger, Catherine Christaki @LinguaGreca, and her husband, Christos Floros. She did three great presentations!
Friday, November 8
During the entire conference, there was always a half-hour break between sessions. I would use this time to meet others who attended the sessions with me and the very knowledgeable speakers. Of course, I would sip the occasional cup of hot tea.
Lunch: This time our expanding entourage selected Luciano’s, a beautiful Italian restaurant that left me almost catatonic afterwards. It might be appropriate to eat light during conferences so as to benefit from the afternoon sessions. However, I have no regrets and enjoyed personal interaction with one of my favorite Twitter friends, Holly Behl @hbehl, owner of Preciso Language Services.
Dinner: Thankfully, my wife met the registration deadline for the Spanish Language Division dinner. As always, I sat with unknown professionals and ended the evening with new friends and colleagues. The Spanish Division knows how to throw a great event! The Mariachi came out and in no time, the entire room was singing and dancing! What an enjoyable experience!
Today’s breakfast had a twist: we called a Tweetup! This afforded the Twitter colleagues to meet in real life. What an honor for me to meet them. It was so much fun, what a fabulous idea.
Closing Session and Reception. We said au revoir to an ever-growing tribe of passionate professionals. We were exhausted and satisfied from an educational conference that provided ample opportunities for connecting. My wife and I were feverishly waiting to attend the dance party. In 2012, we had a blast! We decided to catch our second wind with a brief, half-hour nap. We awoke on Sunday! Oh well, next year.
In addition, Emily and I attended the ATA board meeting on Sunday. We observed how hard they work. It is amazing how many details they must consider, and their positions are all unpaid. The issue of hiring a public relations person arose during the conference. It is very easy to simplify things and vote “yes, ATA needs one.” If you want reasons for certain decisions, if you want your opinion to be heard, it is high time you attend the meeting. It was also an opportunity for us to personally meet all the members. Some of the smartest linguists in the world are in that room! Don’t you think that it’s worth getting to know them?
Here is the bottom line. The social aspect of the conference helps us make contacts that can help us grow personally and professionally. It is about collaboration, knowledge, and inspiration. All of that was accomplished just from the social connections made at ATA54. The next blog I will review some of my favorite sessions and the principal lessons I extracted from them. I hope to see you next year at ATA55 in Chicago!