Well, it’s Friday already, and it’s taken me the whole week to recover from last week’s ATA conference in San Antonio! Here are some thoughts on this year’s conference, and feel free to add your own in the comments!
- I love pretty much every ATA conference, and this year was no exception. With about 1,400 attendees it was one of the smaller conferences in recent years (although larger than projected for this year!), and I find that at the smaller conferences, people are more focused on the lessons and less on the tax-deductible vacation.
- San Antonio is a great conference town: at the French Language Division dinner, we dubbed it “The Venice of Texas,” and the Riverwalk really is a nice feature. Plus the rest of the city is very walkable and felt very safe. The FLD dinner was a lovely barge cruise, catered by an Italian restaurant right by the hotel. Because we were outside, it was quiet enough to actually talk, and for a group thing the food was actually excellent.
- The lineup of French sessions this year was outstanding. Back in the day (actually, when I was FLD Administrator…) we were lucky if we had 3 or 4 really good French sessions *during the entire conference*. This year, nearly every slot was filled with something interesting, and the range of topics (transcreation, subtitling, legal translation, writing better in French and English, “hidden” French, etc.) was really staggering!
- Having the conference events all on one floor was great: more opportunities to talk to people during the breaks, less route-finding, and easier to pick places to meet up with people for meals. I thought that the hotel breakfasts were really tasty, and if you were lucky enough to pounce on the Mexican hot chocolate cart during the afternoon break, it was the perfect sugar hit for the mid-afternoon lull!
- Personally I really enjoyed this year’s focus on newcomers. I agree that it’s also important to offer something for experienced and very experienced translators, but I think that in order to get to that level, newbies have to have a good experience at their first conference. One’s first conference is always overwhelming: I think that any veteran can recall that clutch-in-the-throat feeling of walking in to the opening reception for the first time. When I was a newbie, that feeling was exacerbated by the fact that I hadn’t done anywhere alone since my daughter was born 2 years before. But I think that the Newbies and Buddies program went a long way toward helping people make a personal connection *before* the opening reception, which is critical. Huge thanks to Helen Eby and Jamie Hartz for putting this program together! Also, although the Newbies and Buddies reception was a bit chaotic, I am in favor of continuing the “grab a partner” method rather than pre-assigning pairs of Newbies and Buddies. One, I think it’s way too much work to assign the pairs in advance; two, I think that if the pairs are pre-assigned, it creates more chaos if half of the pair isn’t there; three, I kind of like the element of surprise, but maybe that’s just me. My newbie, Olga Yuska from the Ukraine, was fabulous! I was really impressed with her ambition and business-savvy (on her first trip to the US, no less!). Here we are having breakfast together:
- I did two presentations: assisting with Jill Sommer’s first-time attendees orientation, and co-presenting on time management with David Rumsey. I think that both of these went well, and I really think that presenting at the conference is worthwhile. It’s a huge amount of work, but it also forces you to condense your thoughts on a certain topic and put them into a useful format. I always learn a lot from preparing for my presentations, so I’d encourage you to start thinking about the topic you want to present next year!
- This conference marked one year since I was elected to the ATA Board. Summary: I love it. Partially, I think that compared to running a local association for 4 years, the ATA Board is actually much less pressure. There’s a lot more decision-making, but a lot less logistical work than a local association, which is a nice change of pace.