An Open Letter to My South Carolina Colleagues

March 31, 2014 JAlfonso 1 comment

Over the last several years, there have been a noteworthy number of interpreters and translators seeking certification in South Carolina. Speaking to interpretation for a moment, I hear occasional complaints from frustrated certified healthcare interpreters that have expended considerable cost and time dedicated to improving their skill (continuing education). After all their effort to reach the required standard of proficiency, many hospitals still do not make an effort to hire them.  This is just only one example because I don’t want to begin a long rant at this time.

Many certified court interpreters in South Carolina have similar complaints. It takes considerable persistence and personal expense to attain that level of expertise. Yet, the list of certified and qualified interpreters is not readily shared. Because of the lack of transparency in the state system, it appears that preference is given to contracting with non-certified interpreters in order to save money. Even greater frustration is that fact that many have been called in to interpret, wait for hours, and then discover that they were not needed. Imagine doing this for days or weeks without getting paid because they didn’t actually interpret. I better stop before I rant.

As dedicated language professionals, what are we doing for ourselves and our industry? Free agents and language service companies often see one another as competition, the enemy, instead of as colleagues. Many often work very hard to gain the skill that they have and then begin to coast instead of keeping their skills sharp. We should be working closely together to promote quality interpreters and better working conditions.

If you are a language professional, you should be supporting and participating in an association that represents your industry. The Carolina Association of Translators and Interpreters (CATI) is just such an association of which we should be a part. It is a chapter of the American Translators Association, but local and in tune with our specific needs. I have spoken to a number of South Carolina associates who  don’t support CATI because they feel it represents North Carolina. For a while, a group of dedicated, intrepid South Carolina interpreters banded together and formed an association, but it didn’t last. Its goals were fantastic and essential, but they needed more support.

CATI tried to reach out to South Carolina colleagues with very little response. Emily Alfonso lives in Greenville and is now a CATI board member. She is working hard for interpreters and translators in South Carolina. If you don’t feel that CATI does enough for South Carolina, why not join with Emily to change that situation? CATI seems to represent North Carolina better because it has more members and volunteers in North Carolina.

Please come join CATI! Let’s us collaborate with one another so that we can continue to grow and improve. Let us work together to improve opportunities for industry counterparts who strive to maintain quality standards of professionalism. Let’s join together and inspire one another!  The alternative is to continue alone and complain about shoddy competition and lack of respect we receive. Remember the cry of Cesar Chavez:  “Yes we can!”

Carolina Association of Translators and Interpreters is having its 27th annual conference in Spartanburg on Saturday April 5th. Click to register and guarantee your lunch:   http://27thannualcaticonference.eventbrite.com

Conference schedule:  http://www.catiweb.org/cms-assets/documents/158184-499869.2014-final-cati-conf-schedule.pdf

Join CATI:  http://www.catiweb.org/become-a-member/application/

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