Moaning about late-paying clients, wondering whether to do a free translation test for an agency, fretting about how you reacted when a doctor told a patient that there was no connection between her newly acquired cough and her new blood pressure medication, trying to understand how to file for CCHI continuing education points, venting about a non-native-English-speaking direct client who wants to ‘touch up’ your English, exploring the personality traits of a translator versus an interpreter, comparing notes on the advantages and disadvantages of various CAT tools, or reporting on a intriguing new article or book you stumbled across. These are some of the things that enter into discussion when, as translators and interpreters living or working in the Madison, WI area, we gather monthly at a local coffee shop or restaurant. For every question, there is a colleague to shed a little light on a conundrum or provide a complete or partial answer. For every complaint, there is someone who has gone through a similar experience and has terrific advice or knows someone who can help us out. For every frustration, there is commiseration, support, and encouragement.
We find plenty of cause for celebration too: when a colleague earns a certification or award, graduates college, gets a promotion, passes a major exam, has a baby, publishes a book, becomes a citizen, or ‘survives’ her daughter’s wedding.
And we evidently find much to laugh about. At our recent October 16 meeting at Panera, the manager presented us with a large bag of cookies for this very reason. He said he just doesn’t hear people laughing enough anymore (excluding tailgaters from his tally, he stressed).
Although we have no organizational ties or any political or religious affiliations, the group was an outgrowth of the September 2010 MATI conference in Milwaukee, where three of us from the Madison area first met and decided we’d like to have an opportunity to get together with our fellow translators and interpreters on a more regular basis.
The numbers: While we generally have only half a dozen to a dozen at any one meeting, our email list has expanded to nearly 50 (plus another 5 “corresponding” members in other cities). Nearly half give Spanish as their working language, but another 17 languages are also represented (including Portuguese, French, Italian, German, Russian, Bulgarian, Albanian, Farsi, Hindi, Bengali, Mandarin, Japanese, Vietnamese, Catalan, Korean, and Nepali). About thirty of our members are medical interpreters, while around twenty are translators – bearing in mind that some wear both hats. About half a dozen do legal interpreting, and we have a few conference interpreters as well.
The group has a Facebook page where anyone can post information on local events, course offerings, job opportunities, links to an article or blog post, or share any other information of professional interest. Our mailing list also serves as a way to keep each other up to date on professional happenings in the area.
Wondering if you would have anything to gain by starting a similar group close to you? Here’s what participants have to say about why they attend these regular meetings:
I like to come to our meetings because I enjoy getting out of the office and socializing with people who share my love of words and diverse cultures!
- Sylvia, Italian>English legal translator
I look forward to our get-togethers every month. I love it because we get to hear and share tips, ideas, and experiences from other translators and interpreters. We also get to learn from different cultures and languages. But most importantly, I love it because we have fun, and laughter is always one of our most important guests. :)
- Rosy, English>Spanish translator and interpreter
I attend because it is fun to meet with other interpreters and it gives me a sense of community.
- Susan, English<>French medical interpreter
Besides being fun and relaxed, our local group meetings are a nice way to exchange experiences and network. We share what’s going on, what’s new, or what’s working well for our colleagues. Our meetings are the only occasion I have personal, face-to-face interactions with other interpreters and translators, and that helps me keep in contact with the "real world" in that area.
For me, these meetings are also a source of good advice and encouragement, which are very much appreciated!
- Thaís, master’s candidate in translation (English>Portuguese)
Take a peek at the latest postings on our Madison group’s FB page:
article by Diane Grosklaus-Whitty