Monday, April 27, 2009

El Paso and Us Passing Out

A recent article from the El Paso Times (USA) reports that the the 80-member El Paso Interpreters & Translators Association has just staged its 14th Annual Translation & Interpreting Workshop - an eight hour event aimed at public service employed bilingual Hispanics in the area that gives them basic skills to act as interpreters and translators in their jobs.

The reason? There are two:

(a) roughly 80 percent of El Paso (NM) is Hispanic, and
(b) many of them end up interpreting and translating at their workplace without even knowing that's what they are doing. There are 150 - 200 professional interpreters in El Paso, and that is not enough. And Spanish is not the only language - there is a perpetual shortage of interpreters in courts and hospitals in all kinds of languages. So the professional associations are recruiting and training.

The speakers at the workshop ranged from practising interpreters and translators to the senior reviser and terminologist for the Spanish Translation Service for the United Nations headquarters in New York and an interpreting consultant with the U.S. Agency for International Development's PRODER-ECHO program in Mexico City. The aim is to get people interested and prod them in the right direction for further study.

Pardon me, but what is our AUSIT's stance on bilingual workers? Are we training them? Are we soliciting them? Do we extend ourselves in that direction to get more members? Oh, God forbid. Why? Because we have a slightly unhealthy belief that there is not enough bread on the table. That a professional organization is for the top creme of whatever (since we really have no standards to measure the cream by), and that elitism does not permit outreach. What, we even screamed our heads off when our National Committee created a "student membership" for those poor souls dumb enough to want to do graduate studies in T&I. Fie! How dare they?? They will steal our work from us.. especially as they are more streetwise, techno-savvy, dress better than us and know how to talk.

The fact is: we will be an extinct species if we don't pass our knowledge on. Of course that shouldn't bother us if we are egocentric and have no dreams of extending our work postmortem. I do. I want to leave something tangible behind me, so I am mentoring (read: pushing, shoving) a gifted younger colleague to do her PhD (before me, not after I start mine) so I can leave her my business when I am no longer sharp-witted enough to write like this!

Do YOU have the courage?

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