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


Eight Reasons To Attend: My Journal of the ATA 58th Annual Conference in Washington, DC [Guest Blog]

ATISDA’s Marco Díaz recently attended the 58th Annual American Translators Association (ATA) Conference in Washington, DC. He writes the following about his experience and the value of attending such a conference.

The American Translators Association Annual Conference is one of the most exciting events for language professionals. It gathers people from all over the world, and it is a great opportunity to learn, network, travel, and connect with people of your own tribe.

I had the fortune to attend this year’s 58th Annual Conference in Washington, DC, and it is my pleasure to walk you through my own personal experience. I would like to share with you eight great reasons to attend a conference like this one.


I would like to briefly highlight and describe the Advanced Skills & Training (AST) workshops and sessions that left a major imprint during the conference. On what is known as the pre-conference day (or AST Day), I attended two workshops, one called Translation Magician Tips and Tricks Workshop by Sameh Ragab, which focused on using tools and applications to improve the productivity and quality in our translation work, and the other one called Tips and Tricks to Boost Your Terminology Work by Laura Ramírez, which covered topics on how to improve terminology processes and management.

During the conference, I attended five sessions that were outstanding for their oratory, subject-matter knowledge, and engagement: (1) Different Levels in Translation Proofreading by María Ester Capurro, (2) Cuando sobran las palabras: The Problem of Over-Translation by Maria Barros, CT, (3) Deciphering Spanish-language Bylaws: A Structural Approach by Robert Sette, and (4) and (5) The Structure of the Civil Law System and Its Impact on Translation: Parts I and II by Guillermo Cabanellas.


Presenter at the ATA Conference


After Hours Café: Readings of literary translations


Closing Reception


Conference Keynote and Closing Session


It was my honor to represent the Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area (ATISDA) in DC. Sadly, there weren’t many colleagues from ATISDA or Southern California (that I knew of) attending the conference, but it was my pleasure to display some contact information about ATISDA since now it holds a spot on the ATA Divisions and Chapters table. I am grateful to the current ATISDA Board because I have received nothing but support from them.


Representing ATISDA at the ATA Conference


Attending an ATA Division Dinner is another great opportunity to get to know your colleagues better, get a taste of the local restaurants, learn about the people involved in the administration and what they’ve been doing throughout the year, and test your luck at winning a prize during the raffles. I was excited to attend the Spanish Division Dinner this year. It was held at Lauriol Plaza, which seemed to me like a Cuban/Spanish/Mexican fusion cuisine restaurant. I held deeper conversations with my table companions and I enjoyed the raffle (besides the fact that I won a small prize!).


Raffle and awards at the Spanish Division Dinner


Spanish Division Dinner


Raffle during the Spanish Division Meeting



Regardless of the country one lives in, getting to know its capital city sounds like a good idea because it may add a good amount of historical weight to enhance the awareness of the country’s sociopolitical background.

I have lived in the United States for over 14 years, so it was interesting to visit this federal district to enrich my historical vision of this country that kindly harbors me.


During my years in Chicago, I got to know the metro system and I can tell it is efficient. In a relatively short time, one can go north, south, west, southwest, or northwest (except east because you’ll end up in Lake Michigan). So far, my three favorite metro systems in the US are in San Francisco, Portland, and DC. The metro in DC is spacious and comfortable, and it connects you to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.


Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport


The closest metro stop to my destination was DuPont Circle. It felt like it took a long time to climb the stairs that lead to street level. Right in front of the station entrance a big band in full action greeted me. This was a remarkable welcome to DC because one does not get to experience it every day. The traveling excitement of attending a conference begins. Ever since I read Walter Benjamin’s study on Charles Baudelaire’s flâneur, I am interested in exploring the impact of modern city life upon the human psyche. This shock manifested itself when I started experiencing the fleeting sensation of walking through the hustle and bustle of a strange city while absorbing all the phantasmagoria.


Big band in front of the station entrance


I arrived in DC the evening before the pre-conference. It was early enough to go for a walk, so I decided to take a bus downtown. I got off on K Street and 17th Street and started walking south on 17th Street. I noticed the neoclassical architecture of the buildings, then suddenly the Washington Monument started looming in the distance. It was already dark, yet shortly after, I realized the White House was to my left as I overheard a woman telling her family that they were getting close to it. I deliberately decided to skip the White House and continued my walk toward the Washington Monument. This is one of the most famous landmarks in DC. Then I spotted the US Capitol to the east and the Lincoln Memorial to the west.


The Washington Monument at night

Since I wanted to see as much as possible during this walk, I headed toward the Lincoln Memorial. The distance seemed a lot shorter than what it was ― 1.1 miles. I walked through the World War II Memorial, with its beautiful fountains and the names of each state and the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans on the north and south sides. I started reflecting on US history: the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, the Civil War, World War II, the Vietnam War. As a Guatemalan, I started wondering if this is also my history now, or is it the world’s history? I found it intriguing nonetheless. I saw the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool to my left and I arrived at the Lincoln Memorial. What a solemn sculpture. Another marvelous sight was the Washington Monument reflecting on the pool, as seen from the Lincoln Memorial.


The Lincoln Memorial


The Lincoln Memorial at night


Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool with Washington Monument in background


World War II Memorial


World War II Memorial Fountain

I could see the US Capitol all the way in the back and I wanted to at least stand right before it. The distance deceived me once again. The walk is almost three miles long. I walked through the National Mall and spotted many Smithsonian museums on both sides. When I arrived at the US Capitol, I started feeling exhausted, but I really wanted to see the US Supreme Court and the Library of Congress, which are both conveniently located behind the US Capitol, so I was able to exert that last bit of energy from my body. I was glad I got to see all these buildings and monuments; however, I couldn’t walk anymore so I decided to take a cab back to the Washington Hilton.


Capitol at night


Supreme Court at night


Library of Congress at night

One can still see a lot of taxis in DC. It didn’t take long to find one. I was lucky to have a nice taxi driver from whom I learned that (a) there is a city ordinance that regulates the height limit of buildings in DC (a detail I noticed when I was walking through downtown) and (b) that even if you spend three full days visiting museums and sites of interest, you would probably have seen only a small percentage of everything there is to see in the city.


The conference was held at the now legendary Washington Hilton hotel, which has two interesting trivia facts that haunted me throughout my stay: Jimi Hendrix once played at the International Ballroom Center in 1968, and John Hinckley Jr. shot Ronald Reagan and three others as they were leaving a speaking engagement in 1981. In this hotel you can also see the President’s Walk, a hall with framed portraits on each side depicting all the presidents and First Ladies of the United States of America.



Washington Hilton Hotel


President’s Walk in the Washington Hilton Hotel

I also went to two exciting restaurants: Keren’s Restaurant and Coffee Shop, and Bistrot du Coin. I have been a fan of East African food ever since I used to live next to an Ethiopian market in San Diego, yet Keren’s in DC had a special, freshly-made taste I’d never tried before. Bistrot du Coin, on the other hand, had an authentic French ambiance, the likes of which I had never experienced before. I was glad they had vegan options.

There you have it. These are eight good reasons to attend a translators and interpreters conference and support your national association.


Marco Pic-300

Marco Díaz

Marco Díaz is the founder of Marco Díaz Translations, a company providing English<>Spanish translation services in business law, contract law, family law, labor law, and mechanical-electrical engineering with more than four years of translation, editing, and proofreading experience. He is an associate member of the American Translators Association (ATA), the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT), the Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area (ATISDA), and San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association (SDLRLA). When Marco is not translating or managing the business, he enjoys reading books, riding his bicycle, and hiking in the mountains or the desert.

More at or @mdiaztranslates