ATISDA Blog (Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area)

Leave a comment

My Experience Taking the ATA Certification Exam (Guest Blog)

Interested in getting your certification from the ATA (American Translators Association)?

The ATA website has the most current information about upcoming ATA exam sittings.

While there, check out the following other helpful ATA resources:

A Guide to the ATA Certification Program
Certification Exam Overview
Practice Test for the ATA Certification Exam

But first, read on to learn some tips and tricks from someone who has successfully passed this certification exam, Marco Díaz, CT, our vice president of ATISDA (Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area). 


My Experience Taking the ATA Certification Exam by Marco Díaz, CT

I shall start by stating that I do not consider myself any kind of mentor or expert, nor shall this be taken as professional advice. I have learned that taking the ATA Certification Exam is a complex affair and each particular case could be different, i.e. what eventually worked for me might not work for others. The main purpose of this piece is to tell you my experience in hopes that you may be able to extract some lessons from it.

If you are considering taking the ATA Certification Exam, a good place to start may be to ask yourself why you are taking the exam in the first place. By now you may already know that, unlike other countries or professions, there is no “official” regulating body in the U.S. that qualifies newcomers to practice in the field of translation, meaning that the hurdles of admittance could be relatively low. So, if you are looking to highlight your qualifications, becoming ATA-certified may be a great option—although there are other excellent avenues like master’s degree or doctorate programs. On the other hand, if you have already established a client base, your clients trust and like your work, and you are satisfied with your own career situation, chances are that you do not need to become ATA-certified.

In my own experience, I strongly felt that, as a newcomer in the field, it would be important for me to bring my translation skills up to a certain standard and that it would boost my credibility to have a verifiable credential. I was able to tackle the above mentioned question, but my streak of successes ended right there. The first time I sat for a handwritten ATA Certification Exam back in 2015 I was in for a reality check. Don’t get me wrong; I studied hard for the exam, but I had very little experience translating, I had never simulated the exam conditions, and I had no idea how strict the grading was going to be. It was shocking when the results came in the mail. I kept asking myself why I had such a low performance.

It may be worth noting that back then I was only a part-time, sporadic translator. Since I had the conviction that becoming ATA-certified would benefit my career, in 2016 I registered again for the handwritten certification exam sitting at the ATA 57th Annual Conference in San Francisco, California, which was also my first conference. I also signed up for the ATA Certification Exam Preparation Workshop on Advanced Skills Training Day, held the day before the conference started. This time I was in for a double reality check. Not only was I quite concerned when I realized that I did not perform too well in the practice exam that comes with the workshop, I was also reassured once again that I was not ready for the ATA Certification Exam when I received the results in the mail.

I decided to take a break in 2017 and not take the exam until 2018. I focused on developing my business, on gaining hands-on experience, and on establishing a client base. I was fortunate that this worked out well for me after launching my own website and a steady marketing campaign.

In 2018 I ordered the practice test for the ATA Certification Exam and, even though I was only one point shy from passing it, the feedback that I received from an actual grader was more than enlightening. With said feedback I was able to focus on reinforcing my weak points. This same year I also joined a study group from which I was able to learn quite a lot since the feedback provided by other group members was invaluable. I felt emboldened to take the ATA Certification Exam again and I signed up for the computerized version. What could go wrong? I had simulated the exam conditions using my laptop, I had devoured books on grammar and writing, I had reviewed over and over again spelling rules and tips from grammar guides, and I had also practiced with real exam passages. I was in for another surprise. Although my performance was much better than previous attempts, common exam pitfalls were still haunting me.

I convinced myself that I would try one more time. I spent a considerable amount of time in 2018 and 2019 translating passages from newspapers and magazines and simulating exam conditions. I focused on speed, mastering resources, and proofreading. At the end of 2019 my golden opportunity finally arrived. I couldn’t believe it when I finally received notification that I had passed the exam.

So what is the moral of my own experience? First, don’t make the same mistake of taking the exam if you are not really sure what you are getting into, like my first two attempts. Make sure that you have at least a few years of full-time experience as a translator, that you simulate the exam conditions, and that you receive feedback from actual graders or translators who have a lot more experience than you do. Second, although my first two attempts at passing the ATA Certification Exam seemed like wrong decisions on my part, I learned the important lesson of perseverance. I cannot stress how important it is to persevere. No matter how many times you fall, always get up and go for another round. You will be stronger and wiser. Also keep in mind that this is a long-term investment for your own career or business.

I would like to end this article with some ideas on preparation strategies.


  • Form study groups.
  • Take the practice test for the ATA Certification Exam.
  • Ask colleagues with considerable experience to give you feedback on your practices.
  • Simulate the exam conditions and practice over and over again.


Marco Díaz, CT, is an English-to-Spanish legal and technical translator from Guatemala City who is currently based in San Diego, California. A member of ATISDA since 2016, he is currently serving as Vice President.

Leave a comment

Check out legal and medical volunteer opportunities in San Diego

Are you looking for ways to get more involved in volunteering within your local community? Then check out these legal and medical volunteer opportunities right here in San Diego!

Consider volunteering with Champions for Health and Casa Cornelia Law Center, two of the community partners of ATISDA (Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area).

Interested in helping in the medical field? Look into Champions for Health, through which some of our ATISDA members have volunteered as medical interpreters. Champions for Health, according to their mission statement, aims to “improve community health and wellness, access to care for all, and support for physicians through engaged volunteerism.”

For more information on volunteer opportunities with Champions for Health, check out their Medical Interpreter Flyer and contact Andrew Gonzalez, Community Wellness and Partnership Manager, at

Are you more drawn to the legal field? Then check out Casa Cornelia Law Center, which offers volunteer opportunities in both legal translation and interpretation. I was glad that I could use my translation skills to provide volunteer services to clients of Casa Cornelia Law Center.

For more information on volunteer opportunities with Casa Cornelia Law Center, contact Artemisa Valle, Coordinator, VIT Program, at

Head shots for Casa Cornelia employees. February, 2017

Artemisa Valle of Casa Cornelia Law Center

CasaCornelia_Photo I

Attorney working with client at Casa Cornelia Law Center

CasaCornelia_Photo II

Attorney working with client at Casa Cornelia Law Center




Leave a comment

How I joined ATISDA, a guest blog by Priya Kalyan-Masih

Learn about the winding road that led ATISDA member Priya Kalyan-Masih to join our group, in her own words below. Want to hear more from Priya and make a vision board to kick off 2020? Join us at our next event!

The end of March this year will mark the two year anniversary of my car accident. I was rear ended by a semi truck on the freeway. It was truly a miracle that I walked away with only a backache and the car was totaled.

I was coming back from a hospital in the desert after being honored for my volunteer work there over the last two years. I was on a service high for being recognized and it quickly halted.

I went through rehab for a month and then resumed my volunteering duties in the desert. But when I approached the point in the drive where I was hit a month prior, I was having severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I knew that I couldn’t put myself through that anxiety every week.

I made a decision. It was time to find something else closer to where I now lived in San Diego. I thought about my passions and it was clear: medicine, serving the community and all things Spanish (culture, food, language). My happiest days volunteering at the hospital were when I would get to speak Spanish to a patient, even if it was for 20 minutes over a four-hour period. I had just come back from a trip to Puerto Vallarta where I did my internado as a doctor and all the feelings of why I studied there rushed over me. I needed more of that, service in medicine and Spanish.

Google is truly a magical tool. I literally put in “Spanish medical interpreter San Diego” and came across Champions for Health. I was amazed at how easy and quickly I found the organization and their mission completely aligned with mine. Providing medical care to those that don’t have access to healthcare and providing medical interpretation for their appointments. Say what?! I see you, God!

I updated my CV, emailed it in and found myself interviewing the next day at Champions for Health. From there on, I went all in. Through Champions for Health, I connected with ATISDA and attended their workshop in June 2017. I found this whole network of translators and interpreters in the area that I had no idea were there. Through this group, I connected with Pensadores. This is a group of Spanish speaking interpreters and translators that meet monthly to discuss all kinds of topics in Spanish. We even go through lexicon and Spanish words. Having learned Spanish since 6th grade and literally loving my grammar courses, I was on such a learning high after my first Pensadores meeting.  I could not believe that there was a group of people who loved to discuss Spanish right in my backyard.

Through these overlapping experiences, I have rediscovered my why and found my way in a niche market that I craved but didn’t know existed or how to find. I am combining my MD degree from Mexico, fluency of Spanish and love of community outreach all into one. I’m able to bridge the gap in a population that I love that is often ignored in today’s society.

It’s clear to me now, almost two years later, that my car accident was the BEST thing that happened to me.

Priya Kalyan-Masih was born and raised in New York where her interests in Spanish and medicine began.  In high school, she volunteered at a local prenatal clinic and was able to utilize her Spanish skills with the patients that were of Hispanic background. These experiences and interests were further pursued at Trinity College Hartford, Connecticut, where she received her BA in Spanish with a pre-med track.

Upon graduation, she completed her post baccalaureate research in Puerto Rico in spinal cord injury and became fluent in spoken Spanish. After the year of research, she attended medical school in Guadalajara, Mexico, and completed a one-year internship program in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. After completing her MD in Mexico, she got married and moved to California where she worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Figneurolab™ at Loma Linda University School of Medicine. There, she worked on translational research focused to determine the interplay between diet, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).

She is now studying for her board exams in order to practice in the US along with providing Spanish interpreting and translating services and working as a wellness coach.



Facebook: @PriFitDoc

Instagram: @Pri.Fit.Doc

Leave a comment

What does AB5 hold for the future of our profession?

Photo caption: Translation and interpretation professionals gather at a November 2019 informational session CoPTIC held in San Diego to discuss next steps for those who may be affected by the passage of AB5.

The possible implications of AB5 have been on the minds of many in our profession. ATISDA President Yolanda Secos writes the following on the subject:

On November 23, 2019, the Coalition of Practicing Translators & Interpreters of California (CoPTIC) hosted an informational session about AB5 in San Diego with many of our Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area (ATISDA) members in attendance. If you missed this important event, please read this post to learn how this bill could affect you and what you can do to support CoPTIC in their efforts to win an exemption from AB5 for interpreters and translators.

What is AB5? 

California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 18, 2019. The bill was passed without any sort of exemption for translators and interpreters. Part of the text reads:

“Existing law, as established in the case of Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles (2018) 4 Cal.5th 903 (Dynamex), creates a presumption that a worker who performs services for a hirer is an employee for purposes of claims for wages and benefits arising under wage orders issued by the Industrial Welfare Commission. Existing law requires a 3-part test, commonly known as the ‘ABC’ test, to establish that a worker is an independent contractor for those purposes.”

The “ABC” test can be found under section 2 of the bill:

2750.3. (a) (1) For purposes of the provisions of this code and the Unemployment Insurance Code, and for the wage orders of the Industrial Welfare Commission, a person providing labor or services for remuneration shall be considered an employee rather than an independent contractor unless the hiring entity demonstrates that all of the following conditions are satisfied:
(A) The person is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact.

(B) The person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.

(C) The person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.”

What is CoPTIC?

The Coalition of Practicing Translators & Interpreters of California (CoPTIC) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit statewide organization that advocates for the independence, integrity, and equity concerns of language professionals throughout California and the communities they serve. They are a diverse network of hundreds of court, administrative hearing, and medical certified interpreters; conference and community interpreters; translation and interpretation educators; and certified translators. They are all practicing professionals throughout the state.

How does CoPTIC intend to win an exemption from AB5 for interpreters and translators?

The sustained, systematic effort by CoPTIC requires active involvement with the lawmakers who work for everyone. By taking informed, strategic action in each district and in Sacramento, all concerned professionals can make the policy process produce the results needed for the integrity of our professions, the survival of our operations, and benefit of the communities we serve.

How can you support CoPTIC?

1. Join CoPTIC to get involved in constituency-driven advocacy. They can put you in touch with the lawmakers who work for you. The plan to win depends on your involvement and your informed voice influencing our legislators.

2. Spread the word! Follow them on Facebook and Twitter, and help keep others informed. If translators and interpreters do not get an exemption, the users of our services will also feel the impact of the new law.

3. Please consider a donation of any amount to support this effort. Because your contribution goes to support their strategic policy advocacy to protect the independence of our profession, it is not charitable or tax-deductible.

4. Take action! Communicate with and visit your lawmakers by following these steps.

Please note that I am writing this post in my capacity of president of the Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area (ATISDA). ATISDA became an affiliated group of the American Translators Association (ATA) in 2016. Since then, we have adhered to their policies and procedures and, as such, we share their ATA Position on AB 5 and Mandatory Employee Classification:

“ATA believes that California AB 5 improperly and unfairly classifies professional translators and interpreters as employees, when in fact, they are truly independent contractors by choice and work on a freelance basis with multiple clients by design. Without an exemption, this bill unduly lumps these independent professionals in with individual workers who have not made a deliberate choice to provide freelance services. The bill will also unintentionally restrict the provision of language services within the state, harming not only translators and interpreters, but the community as well. ATA strongly and urgently requests that a specific exemption be made for professional translators and interpreters.

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me (Yolanda Secos) directly at

Leave a comment

On the Legacy of Translators and Interpreters

Back from the recent American Translators Association (ATA) conference in Palm Springs, fellow ATISDA member Rafa Lombardino shares with us the highlights from two memorable and meaningful conference presentations on the history of our profession.

She writes:

During this year’s American Translators Association conference, the Portuguese Language Division (PLD) invited experienced interpreter and speaker Ewandro Magalhães to present two sessions in Palm Springs. Ten years ago―when the conference was held in New York and the ATA celebrated its 50th anniversary―Ewandro was the PLD distinguished speaker as well, so this was the ideal time to bring him back ten years later and hear him give us a fresh perspective on the role of translators and interpreters in current times.

During his first session, aptly named “Transcending the Toxic Legacy of Jerome,” Ewandro went beyond the commonplace information all translators and interpreters know about our patron saint to discuss how the criticism that Jerome had to face back in his time carries on to today.

Ewandro highlighted a piece of correspondence that became known as the Magna Carta for translators, when Jerome felt compelled to write to Roman Senator Pammachius about “The Best Method of Translating” in order to defend himself from accusations made by fellow translator Tyrannius Rufinus, who criticized Jerome’s Latin translation of a letter written by Pope Epiphanius and addressed to Bishop John. This anecdote goes to show that the subjective nature of our profession was founded on criticism and negativity, and that it’s time we turned things around by being more positive and encouraging each other to end the toxic environment that sometimes surrounds our professional path.

In his second session, titled “Peace Brokers, Peace Breakers: The Role of Interpreters in War and Peace,” Ewandro went through a timeline of recent historical events when interpreters made history―from the Nuremberg Rally in 1934 to interactions between heads of state in current times. Ewandro even shared some of his own experiences, when he interpreted for political figures and celebrities alike and tried to make the best of the communication between two different languages and cultures.

For those who unfortunately were not there to witness Ewandro’s great storytelling abilities, you can learn more about Jerome’s troubles in this article or this video (in Portuguese with English subtitles) and watch a similar presentation on interpreters caught between times of war and peace.

RAFA LOMBARDINO is a translator and journalist from Brazil who lives in California. She is the author of “Tools and Technology in Translation ― The Profile of Beginning Language Professionals in the Digital Age,” which is based on her UC San Diego Extension class. Rafa has been working as a translator since 1997 and, in 2011, started to join forces with self-published authors to translate their work into Portuguese and English. She also runs Word Awareness, a small network of professional translators, and has acted as Division Administrator (2017-2019) and Blog Editor (2015-2017) at ATA’s Portuguese Language Division (PLD). She is one of the founding members of ATISDA.

Leave a comment

Your Guide to Palm Springs for ATA60

Are you planning to attend the 60th annual American Translators Association (ATA) conference this month in Palm Springs? If you’ll be joining language professionals from across the country for ATA60, you’ll want to figure out some transportation and activities ahead of time.

That’s where your connection to ATISDA (Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area) comes in handy.

Hoping to drive with other ATISDA members? If you’re interested in carpooling from San Diego to Palm Springs, please contact ATISDA President Yolanda Secos as soon as possible at

Interested in learning more about ATISDA and ATA Affiliated Groups and Chapters? Then check out the convention center lobby, where ATISDA will have its own display space, during the following hours:
Thursday, October 24: 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Friday, October 25: 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday, October 26: 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Looking for someone to join you at conference offerings and on outings in Palm Springs? Check out the ATISDA WhatsApp group just for those ATISDA members who will be in the Palm Springs area for the conference. Please contact Yolanda Secos at to be added to the WhatsApp group.

Figuring out what to do during your down time at the conference? We’ve got you covered.

Daniel Salinero, our ATISDA member who lives closest to Palm Springs in nearby Indio, tells us all about the best places to check out in Palm Springs.

Daniel writes:

Palm Springs en breve

Originally, Palm Springs went by the name of “Se-Khi,” which means “boiling water” in Cahuilla, the language used by the Native American people of the inland areas of Southern California. The area that is now Palm Springs became a fashionable resort destination in the early 1900s when health tourists came with conditions that required dry heat. Palm Springs became popular with movie stars beginning in the 1930s and estate building expanded into the Movie Colony neighborhoods. Today, tourism is a major factor in the city’s economy with over 1.5 million visitors strolling Palm Canyon Drive and enjoying fabulous restaurants and vibrant night-life each year. In recent decades, the city has experienced a huge influx of Gay residents and Gay businesses. The LGBTQ population is now estimated at more than 50% of the annual resident population.


What to do in the Golf Capital of the World (besides golf)

Palm Springs has something for everyone, whether your thing is to lounge around the pool sipping strawberry-lemon mojitos, dance the night away in one of the city’s clubs or go after the “big one” in one of the 10 Palm Springs area casinos. Many of the city’s visitors make sure to take a stroll down Palm Canyon Drive during the day to visit the many art galleries, spas, salons, restaurants, coffee shops and boutique stores of every stripe.


To help you plan your stay here in the Coachella Valley, I’ve included some helpful links to get you started. I hope to see you all at ATA60!

Daniel Salinero


Art and culture (Music, museums, architecture, art galleries)

Outdoor adventures (Jeep safaris, hiking, biking, off-road rentals, hot-air ballooning)

Spas, beauty and wellness

The Living Desert (in nearby Palm Desert/Indian Wells)



LGBTQ (Clubs, lounges, bars)

Restaurants (18 “essential” restaurants of Palm Springs)

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (Ride comfortably in a rotating tram car from Palm Springs to Mountain Station at an elevation of 8,516 feet)


About Daniel Salinero

I’m a native of California and have happily called the desert my home since 1971 (except when I taught in international schools in Spain for 3 years and Thailand for 6 years.) I’m a public school teacher by day and a professional Spanish-English translator by night. I’m the owner of and a proud long-distance member of ATISDA. My family comes from Macotera, Salamanca, Spain. I’m a single father of two boys who I adopted when they were infants. They are now 17 and 12 years old. My boys and I live in Indio (of Coachella Music Festival fame) … just 23 miles away from Palm Springs. Now that my children are older, I can finally attend my first ATA conference. I hope to see you at the conference!


Leave a comment

International Translation Day 2019: Join ATISDA for a weekend of celebrations on both sides of the border!

You won’t want to miss the International Translation Day celebration this year with the Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area (ATISDA). We have a whole weekend of events planned – on both sides of the border! Our president, Yolanda Secos, tells us all the details and shares with us the official word from the American Translators Association (ATA).

Happy International Translation Day 2019!

September is a month with many different meanings: back-to-school for students (and their parents), the official end of summer and the beginning of fall, but for those who work in the translation and interpreting fields, the last day of this month brings the opportunity for us to celebrate and share what we do with the rest of the world!

On the 30th of September, the feast of St. Jerome, the world celebrates International Translation Day (ITD). This date has been promoted since 1953 by the International Federation of Translators. Learn more about ITD here:

The Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area (ATISDA) has been celebrating ITD since 2008, and this year our celebration is going to be bigger and better than ever! It is up to you to choose if you will celebrate the feast of St. Jerome (patron saint of translators) for just one day – or for the whole weekend.

Yes, that’s right! Thanks to our friends Traductores e Intérpretes de Ensenada, Baja California, we have organized activities on both sides of the California-Baja California border:

• Friday, September 27, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
ATISDA Networking HH – ITD 2019

The Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area (ATISDA) will begin the celebratory weekend with a special edition of our monthly ATISDA Networking Happy Hour (HH) organized by Jenae Spry. We will tour Ballast Point (Miramar) and have dinner there right after the tour.

This event is open to non-ATISDA members. Please come and meet us in person!

Saturday, September 28, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Taller Aplicaciones para la toma de notas del intérprete

El objetivo principal de este taller es ofrecerle al intérprete y/o futuro intérprete, un nuevo panorama sobre las diferentes herramientas digitales que existen para facilitar su labor. Se hablará y trabajará principalmente con aplicaciones para la toma de notas, y también mostraremos ejemplos de herramientas de extracción de terminología, plumas inteligentes, dictadores de voz, entre otros.

Recuerden que los miembros de ATISDA (Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area) tienen los mismos beneficios que los miembros de TIEBC.

• Saturday, September 28, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Día del Traductor

Estamos sumamente complacidos de invitarlos ya que no sólo será el festejo del día del traductor sino también la celebración del quinto aniversario de TIEBC, 5 años en los que ustedes han estado muy presentes. ¡Muchísimas gracias! Sin ustedes no habría asociación.

• Sunday, September 29, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
International Translation Day Celebration 2019

The Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area (ATISDA) will continue the celebratory weekend with a guided tour of the San Diego Central Library (adults only) and lunch at The Mission (East Village).

Please note that this event is FREE for Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area (ATISDA) members only and is included in the reciprocity program for Traductores e Intérpretes de Ensenada, Baja California members.

• Monday, September 30 (Please follow ATA on social media)
ITD 2019: A Day in the Life of a Translator and Interpreter

Wouldn’t it be great if people could get a glimpse of what a day in the life of a translator or interpreter might look like? Let’s make this year’s International Translation Day all about reaching out and raising awareness for our professions. We can change the way the world views translators and interpreters, but we need your help to do it!

What’s the plan?

On Monday, September 30, 2019, the American Translators Association (ATA) will unveil a short video taking viewers through a day in the life of a translator or interpreter. The video will help you get the word out to both your professional and personal network—people who may not be familiar with what you do—about the importance of your profession and your role in it. 

I’m in. What do I need to do?

Follow ATA on social media (YouTube, FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Instagram) and share the video on your own social media accounts on September 30. We’d love to see you write a blurb about what a day in your life as a translator or interpreter looks like.

Fellow translators and interpreters may wish to find out if your Division, local ATA Chapter, or Affiliate group will be hosting a gathering to celebrate translators and interpreters; if not, consider hosting one yourself! ITD is also a great opportunity to schedule a School Outreach presentation. Now is the time to teach the next generation of translators and interpreters about our exciting and growing profession. Materials and inspiration can be found at the School Outreach webpage.

Our goal is to use the platform of ITD 2019 to raise awareness for the profession within our personal networks using this social media opportunity. So mark your calendars, follow ATA on social media, and help spread the word by sharing the video on Monday, September 30, 2019!

Phew! So many different ways to celebrate International Translation Day!

We would love to celebrate with you on either side of the border!
See you soon!

Yolanda Secos
ATISDA President


Leave a comment

Register early for the ATA conference

Maybe you’ve thought about going to the ATA conference for a while now. But it’s been far away in recent years and airfare can be pricey. But this year is different. It’s in Palm Springs this year, so now’s your chance.

Take advantage of all that the annual conference has to offer – right in your own backyard at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

It’s taking place from October 23 to 26, and early registration is now open. But it won’t be for much longer.

Register by September 13 to get the lowest rate. The rate will go up as we get closer to the event.

Think about all the possibilities that can come from attending the conference. Learning new information. Scoring new job opportunities. Socializing and networking. Attending a Division dinner. Maybe meeting some other local professionals. It will draw others from Southern California, after all. What are you most looking forward to at the conference?

Leave a comment

Stay cool this summer!

As we get into the hotter months of summer here in San Diego and the surrounding areas, it’s important to stay cool. Did you know that San Diego County has designated Cool Zones for residents? These areas are located throughout the county for the purpose of providing air-conditioned refuge from the hot summer days here in Southern California.

Those of us who work from home know how hot it can get inside during the day. If you don’t have air conditioning and have the option to work where you want, why not check out one of these Cool Zones? Some of the locations include libraries with internet access.

So grab your laptop and take advantage of the air conditioning!

Leave a comment

Learn about the asylum interview process with Artemisa Valle

ATISDA Treasurer Artemisa Valle will present a fascinating look at the asylum interview process for us on Saturday, June 22. Her presentation, The Asylum Interview: Interpreter Do’s and Don’ts, will discuss issues that may jeopardize the successful performance of an interpreter at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Artemisa about the presentation and the valuable work she does for the community.

Melissa Kamenjarin, ATISDA blog writer: Please tell us about the work you do for Casa Cornelia. What is this organization and who does it help? What role do you play it its mission?

Artemisa Valle: My responsibilities include recruitment, training, and mentoring of volunteer community interpreters. Casa Cornelia Law Center is a not-for-profit public interest law firm that provides legal services to victims of human and civil rights violations. Casa Cornelia works on a pro bono model relying on volunteer attorneys and interpreters and translators. My role as the Language Support Coordinator is to prepare the community volunteer to become the ambassador for Casa Cornelia and to provide basic language support for the attorney-client communication.

Kamenjarin: What role do current political and legal decisions have in asylum requests?

Valle: The immigrant community Casa Cornelia has supported for over 25 years is the population mostly impacted by the current administration policies. The affirmative asylum petition process, which includes the interview at the Anaheim, USCIS Asylum Office, has remained the same but now it has implemented first-come-first-served so the notice to appear may give the applicant only days to find an asylum-interview-experienced interpreter or a prepared volunteer.

Kamenjarin: How can translators and interpreters volunteer with Casa Cornelia? Can people help remotely?

Valle: Casa Cornelia’s volunteer webpage at—translators.html contains the details of the application process. This includes a personal interview with me to help the individual determine if this is a volunteer opportunity to which he or she is able to commit. Before the volunteer is assigned a task, he or she must attend an orientation where volunteers are prepared to adhere to Casa Cornelia’s policies, practices, and procedures. Translations, of course, may be completed in the comfort of the volunteer’s home. Telephonic or Skype interpretations are possible depending on the objective of the attorney-client meeting and/or other factors determined by the attorney and/or client.

Kamenjarin: Before we go into more detail, can you tell us what exactly asylum is? What does it mean for the candidate who applies for it? And who can apply?

Valle: First, a disclaimer. I am not an attorney; therefore, readers should not consider my response in any way the complete details of the asylum process nor in any way, shape, or form consider this legal advice. Non-documented immigrants may present themselves at a port of entry and state they are asylum seekers. They are detained on the spot and subsequently given a credible fear interview (CFI) by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). If the CFI is deemed credible, the individual is eligible to submit an application to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The applicant for asylum is eligible for employment authorization after 180 days. If asylum is granted, eventually the individual may apply for naturalization.

At the end of the asylum application process, the asylum interview is conducted by the USCIS. This interview determines whether the applicant is accepted or rejected. If rejected, the applicant may be returned to a place which may present peril to the applicant.

The interpreter competency is based on a memorandum issued by the USCIS in January of 2017. This memorandum presents some differences from what anyone who has had structured training in interpretation has learned as best practices.

Kamenjarin: That’s very interesting. Who evaluates interpreter competency and how? How does that differ from what we have learned as best practices in the interpreting and translating community? And in what ways does that affect the interpreter and the asylum applicant?

Valle: The interviewing officer determines competency based on a DHS-issued Policy Memo in January 2017 through the USCIS regarding the “Role and Use of Interpreters in Domestic Field Office Interviews.” It is determined during the progress of the interview itself, not beforehand, via observation and monitoring. In the interpreting and translating community, normally, competency should be determined before the task is performed. This practice, of evaluating during the interview, leaves the asylum applicant vulnerable to the interpreter’s (regardless of professional status) “incompetence.”

Kamenjarin: Are there other ways that interpreting for asylum interviews is different from any other interpreting assignment?

Valle: The participation of a monitor via the speakerphone may be jarring to seasoned professionals who have not participated in the asylum interview.

Kamenjarin: What will you discuss in your presentation? Who would get the most out of it?

Valle: My presentation will focus exclusively on the asylum applicant’s interpreter. The USCIS office admits volunteer as well as professional interpreters for the asylum applicant. I believe that community volunteers as well as seasoned professionals who have not experienced the asylum interview setting will benefit from my presentation.

Kamenjarin: Thanks so much for speaking with us on this issue.

Want to learn more about interpreting in these special circumstances? Join us on June 22 for this workshop. Details are available on our Facebook event page. The event is FREE for ATISDA members, who just need to email Yolanda Secos at by Thursday, June 20 to secure a spot.


Artemisa Valle


Artemisa Valle completed the SDSU Translation and Interpretation Professional Certificate (Spanish/English) from the University of California, San Diego, Extension, in the fall of 2010. Previously, she had also completed, at UCSD Extension, the ABA Approved Professional Certificate in Paralegal Studies (2006). She has pursued her career through her work as Coordinator of the Volunteer Interpreters and Translators Program at Casa Cornelia Law Center since the summer of 2010. At this San Diego firm, she recruits, trains, and mentors community volunteers (all levels of experience and skill in the T/I profession) who assist with the attorney/client communication. Prior experience includes extensive work as an Information Systems Management professional in the insurance and banking industries. Artemisa currently lives with her husband in the 4S Ranch community of San Diego. She is a translator with a current focus on legal documents of all types. Independent translation experience includes, among others, Airline luggage handlers’ procedures manual, Commercial license drivers’ manual, Income tax declarations, and marketing materials. Her personal interests include future opportunities working on literary translations and presenting at an ATA Conference.