On June 23-24, Linguist Education Online (LEO) hosted its 5th biannual International Virtual Conference United We Grow, bringing together experts from across the language industry, for over 10 hours of passionate and profound discussions. The conference combined expert presentations and panel discussions on subjects ranging from Neuro MT to advocacy. Among the attendees were interpreters, translators, court and hospital administrators, language company executives, project managers, legal experts and language advocates from nearly every US state and over 15 countries around the world. The conference focused on structured discussions around how we, as language professionals, can be more united and supportive of one another on a personal and professional level.
Over the course of two days, 10 live sessions featured over 20 world-class speakers and presenters, and it was a huge success, yet again! From exciting educational sessions to thought-provoking panel discussions, there was a lot to take in. But if you missed something, don’t worry! We’re going to recap the main points for you, AND all the session recordings are now available to watch for all those who registered for the event! If you haven’t signed up for LEO5, be sure to watch out for LEO6 registration opening in the fall.
The live event kicked off with a quick industry update about the Neural Machine Translation Journey from the expert from Ireland, Dominick Kelly. Highlighting industry trends over the last year, Dominick shared the difference between the baseline and custom, and what type of Machine Translation to use.
Day 1 included a talk by the CCHI commissioner Zoe Schutzman, who began by discussing what interpreting skills are critical to certify healthcare interpreters of all languages with several real-life examples. Zoe discussed and explained the objectives and results of the EtoE Study identifying which interpreting skills can be tested in an English-only modality; and covering types of activities on the EtoE exam that measure interpreting skills.
On Friday, LEO’s Executive Director Jinny Bromberg started day 2 with opening remarks introducing LEO and Bromberg & Associates. Then, panelists Katharine Allen, Lorena Ortiz Schneider, and Paul Tracy had a profound discussion on the future direction of the industry. With 2022 in full swing, our staple “Future” panel discussed issues from the pandemic to Remote Interpreting fatigue to the global impact we are only beginning to feel brought on by the war against Ukraine. Next, Dr. Bill Rivers and Giovanna Carriero-Contreras presented on the rights for language access, its basis in the US and what we, as language industry professionals, can do to advocate for language access. Bill asked attendees to consider the various reasons people might not seek information or help in language access, citing cases where LEP individuals have faced challenges. For so many, the concern of being left out without language access is real and troubling.
One of the highlights of the conference was the first-time topic on interpreting in a war zone. The panelists were the highly acclaimed Dr. Kateryna Rietz-Rakul, who has interpreted for Ukrainian President Zelensky among many others, and Ahmed Ali Saleh, former combat interpreter in Nigeria and current Translators without Borders National Capacity Building Officer. The duo shared their heartfelt stories and provided input on various issues from language inclusion to coping with vicarious trauma and PTSD while interpreting for such a brutal violation of human rights as war.
One of LEO conferences’ most popular “Legal” panels, as always featured Bruce Adelson, Esq. and Carla Fogaren. They discussed the legal developments that may impact our careers, the prospective regulatory efforts and best practices that could affect how interpreters conduct business; and the best practices to advocate for colleagues and clients.
The next two sessions highlighted that being a language professional goes beyond offering language services. Not only must we be ready to meet communication-related challenges while getting a message across to the target audience, but we must also learn how to become entrepreneurs while managing our careers. Notwithstanding our business status, we must see ourselves as “A Company of One” and literally take care of business, which includes keeping up with new technology, managing our time and resources, investing in continuing education, finding a niche, adapting our skills, and diversifying our services. Beyond language skills, translators, interpreters, and other independent contractors must acquire the practical knowledge required to thrive in their day-to-day business activities.
Rafa Lombardino, a certified translator and voice-voer talent has talked about what she had learned after assisting over 575 students during her 12 years of experience as a translation instructor, preparing novice translators for freelancing career and the transition to becoming independent contractors in the digital age.
As our panelists Marion Rhodes, Alessandra Checcarelli, and Mireya Pérez have put it, “as a translator and/or interpreter you market not only your services, but yourself”.
During this session, our panelists have discussed how the global access to markets provided by the Internet makes a good marketing translation the cornerstone of many companies’ internationalization strategy. With the sheer volume of content being produced in a context of increasingly blurred boundaries, translators and interpreters need to learn the skills to market themselves as leaders in the industry in the digital era. Digital marketing allows language professionals to reach a wider audience, learn to collaborate with colleagues and clients.
Create your own village
Learning why Self-Evaluation for Skill Development is necessary for professional interpreters was another keynote being introduced and discussed by the ASL interpreter and interpreter trainer, Danielle Meder.
Finally, a point brought up and discussed by our closing session presenter Jorge Mejia, a Medical Interpretation Coordinator at Natividad Hospital, who stressed the importance of creating and supporting the need for a language access program in various organizations, knowing to whom we should address this matter, how to organize information pertinent for the implementation of this program, and finally, how to create and maintain it.
This brings us back to the idea of being united and growing together as one profession. These principles can be applied to any organization. We cannot make everything completely accessible immediately; in many cases, accessibility will be an iterative process, with changes made over time. However, we can strive to bring principles of accessibility and universal unity into our own individual practices as language professionals to begin making changes today.
Overall, I found this conference extremely engaging, professional and worthwhile. I often find myself a bit untethered at conferences, unsure how to choose which sessions to attend from a long list and drawn in several different directions because of all my different interests. This conference provided a more concentrated experience, and, because of the more focused theme, there was enough time and space to delve into the information accessibility in more detail than I’ve experienced in other conferences. Now it’s time to refocus, take what I’ve learned, and find more ways to incorporate those tips into my work on a daily basis.
Over 20 world-class speakers and presenters have all contributed to the success of this 5th installment of one of the most diverse, inclusive, and affordable conferences among high caliber virtual events. LEO’s promise is to develop ever-lasting influential conferences that are always interesting, informative, and forward-leaning with the concept of All for One and One for All! As Danielle Meder said in her talk on self-evaluation for skill development, “create your own village”.