Highlights From the 2015 CATI Conference

This year, the CATI conference occurred on 3/14/15, Pi day. This summit is so important to me, I actually missed a Greenville, South Carolina event, Pieapalooza. Every year on pi day, a group of colleagues attend this event bearing their best attempt at a delicious pie. We all eat each other’s pies and choose our favorite. A few years ago, I had the honor of winning first place in the savory pie category. Enough of that though, on to my review.

This year it was located in Raleigh, North Carolina. The evening before the event, the CATI board takes the keynote speaker out to dinner. This year’s keynote speaker was Tony Rosado. Tony is a well-known, brilliant interpreter in the industry and co-head of the IAPTI Interpretation Committee. I was blessed to attend because my wife Emily is a director. Not only was the food absolutely delicious, we enjoyed great companionship with fine colleagues and became better acquainted with Tony!

Saturday morning, pi day arrived. Emily and I woke up way too early in anticipation of the event. It was exciting to see a line forming, full of eager attendees before it opened at eight o’clock. When the doors opened on time, a lovely continental breakfast was waiting to be enjoyed. The 45 minutes for registration is great not only for breakfast, but also fantastic for catching up with old friends as well as meeting new ones.

Tony Rosado’s keynote address was entitled “Interpreting and Translating as Essential Elements of a Global Society.” It was truly inspiring and reminded us why we should value the ancient professions of interpreting and translating, professions as vital today as they have been throughout history! You know a presentation is good when an audience is oohing and aahing!

Tony addressed the importance and relevance of interpreting and translating as essential elements of a global society where technology has brought all humans to the same neighborhood. Describing both professions from a historical perspective and bringing them to the present, he touched on important issues common to both fields such as professional and ethical standards, continuing education, business planning, getting the right clients, and dealing with fees and other money matters.  Interpreters and translators, experienced and newcomers alike, will hear of cases where lack of a professional service resulted in bad situations, and will gain, or renew, a new respect for our chosen careers.

After his speech, there were several breakout sessions, typically something for translators, interpreters, and something on business. I attended one by Emily Ortiz Alfonso entitled, “Recognition and Treatment of Interpreter Trauma.” It was a well thought out, researched discussion on how to recognize the symptoms of trauma an interpreter might be experiencing. Then Emily discussed proven practical techniques for coping and managing traumatic stress.

The scope of material that interpreters convey includes sexual assault, murder, learning disabilities, fatal diagnosis, and emergency services. The ability to perform under duress is paramount.  However, self-care is vital in order for an interpreter to continue conveying messages under traumatic conditions.  Tools that interpreters can utilize before, during, and after an assignment will empower them to enjoy their career despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Applying the Shine – Mike Collins
This presentation focused on effectively finishing translations intended for use in promotional or marketing settings. This session detailed pitfalls to avoid and ways to polish your translation and achieve the proper effect.


Next was my favorite part of the convention:  lunch. The menu included tasty pineapple chicken and with an hour and a half, there was plenty of time for networking! If you are vegetarian, no need to worry; I jealously watched some of my colleagues receive a beautiful lasagna! Judging by the way they were digging in, it must have been utterly scrumptious!

The afternoon had two more series of breakout sessions. I joined a workshop on simultaneous interpretation. A New Spin: Simultaneous Practice, Reimagined – Karen Bahr and Kelly Varguez. Colleagues Karen Bahr and Kelly Varguez teamed up to share the technique exercises that breathed new life into their interpreting study sessions. Based on authentic Spanish¬language legal documents and court proceedings, Karen and Kelly’s materials challenge intermediate and advanced interpreters alike by forcing them to comprehend and interpret high¬register Spanish into high¬register English. Participants were given a brain workout. It was splendid and reminded me why I need to continue regularly practicing this challenging art.

Scaffolded Omniscience with Technology in Translation – Garrett Fisher
The field of translation has changed over the years and now heavily relies on the use of technology and networking. The presentation covered the advantages and disadvantages of advancements in technology used in translation known as CAT tools and the use of networking to attempt to create “scaffolded omniscience” for a productive translation outcome.

Finally, I attended another inspiring discourse by Tony Rosado on conference interpreting. How to Prepare to Interpret a Conference – Tony Rosado
The conference interpreter’s professional success depends of many factors. A key issue is the preparation for the event. This becomes more relevant when the conference includes complex topics, delicate matters, or difficult presenters. This session covered some of the challenges that a conference interpreter must face on a daily basis, taking those who attend the presentation along the road to professional success, making stops at each stage of the process: planning, distribution of tasks, research, and others. He simplified all the details and really showed all the particulars involved in this advanced, premium interpreting arena.

Q&A Session with Business and Marketing Experts – Ekaterina Howard (Moderator), Deborah Oronzio, and Cole Watts
The invited experts answered questions on business development and promotion, including internet marketing and social media.

Below is a link to my Twitter notes from the conference on Storify.


The 28th CATI conference concluded at 5 p.m. Many of us continued to share thoughts as the staff cleaned up around us. We just didn’t want to leave and felt fully satisfied with the enriching content we had consumed. All I can say is that I look forward to next year, it will most likely be held in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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3 thoughts on “Highlights From the 2015 CATI Conference”

  1. Jeff,

    I was eager to read about this CATI event because I almost attended (that was my intent months ago before my calendar filled up). What jumps out from your review is the phrase ‘interpreter trauma.’ Maybe a brief description of what was presented about this topic would be useful for translators and interpreters alike.

    By way of constructive criticism, I need to point out a couple of things: we readers need to find more specifics beyond the overused adjective “inspiring.” How was the speech or presentation inspiring? In what ways attendees found it useful and applicable? How can a brief description of the speech help us readers feel as if we attended or listened to it by proxy?

    Also, how many people attended? What other topics were covered? Were there non-translators or non-interpreters among the presenters or attendees?

    Finally, how was the CATI public relations effort conceived and achieved?

    1. Mario thank you for the specific input. I added more details to the blog and a link to my twitter notes.
      (Were there non-translators or non-interpreters among the presenters or attendees?) I don’t think so except for a few Language professors.
      (How was the CATI public relations effort conceived and achieved?) I have no idea how to answer this question. Now I have homework to be reported on in a future blog.

  2. Jeff,

    Thank you for the extra details. You are a man of healthy appetite! Maybe you should also be a chef or a writer for a cuisine magazine. I mean it, it’s not snark.

    I caught the expression “scaffolded omniscience” and I had to squint my eyes at it. How was it explained to signify? In education theory, scaffolding is a teaching method that guides students towards a more solid or stronger understanding of a topic. In short, it’s called guided practice. More on the topic: http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/5074

    I confess myself a neophyte regarding scaffolding learning. But, scaffolding omniscience? Here’s a philosophical problem, since omniscience is impossible, logically and otherwise. And we are not touching the religious realm for sure, since in many creeds there is an all-knowing supreme being. I will leave that aside.

    I am also curious: would the CATI conference organizers be interested in bringing online participation on board? I mean, I know that an event that requires so much preparation brings in 100-200 people from cities near and far, but, what about the people who would like to listen to a keynote speech or to a seminar but can’t be there in the flesh? CATI wouldn’t have to lose money on them, since there would be a special registration fee for online attendance. What about that?

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