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


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Q&A with Rafa Lombardino, Portuguese Language Division Administrator

Congratulations to our very own Rafa Lombardino, who was recently elected Administrator of the Portuguese Language Division!

She joins the ranks of other ATISDA members who have served in Divisions. Our President, Yolanda Secos, writes:

The Association of Translators & Interpreters in the San Diego Area (ATISDA) became an Affiliated group of the American Translators Association (ATA) in 2016, but many of our members have been active volunteers of the ATA long before that and have served or are currently serving in different ATA committees and Divisions. Emily Tell was the Assistant Administrator of the Language Technology Division (LTD) from 2009 to 2011. Our current webmaster, Leo van Zanten, had the initiative of starting the Dutch Language Division (DLD) and has served as its Administrator since 2016. These are all volunteer positions and those who serve do not get paid for their work, but a scholarship was established to promote, encourage, and support leadership and professional development of translators and interpreters within ATA’s Spanish Language Division (SPD): the Harvie Jordan Scholarship. The 2016 recipient of this scholarship was our current ATISDA president, Yolanda Secos, and that same year she was elected as Assistant Administrator of the ATA SPD. The latest ATISDA member to join this group of dedicated people is one of our founding members, Rafa Lombardino, who was elected Administrator of the ATA Portuguese Language Division (PLD) last year. Some divisions will be holding elections this year to elect their new Administrators and Assistant Administrators, and you may be thinking about running for these positions but are not sure about all the work and duties involved. Rafa was very kind to let us interview her and we hope that, after reading this post, some of you will be encouraged to run in the future.

ATISDA: What duties does a Division Administrator handle?

Rafa Lombardino: As the Administrator of the Portuguese Language Division (PLD), I’m responsible for overseeing several operational matters, including the nomination of a Distinguished Speaker to present two sessions at the annual conference and discuss issues that are of interest to our division members. I also coordinate activities with our Blog Editor, so we can keep our members informed of what’s going on at our division and the association as a whole, such as the current call for proposals, so the ATA can start putting together this year’s program for New Orleans. I also coordinate our gatherings with our Events Coordinator, which includes meet-ups that take place worldwide twice a year and the annual dinner we host during the ATA conference. There’s also a lot of paperwork involved to keep the ATA informed of our activities and help the association design programs and practices that will benefit translators and interpreters in our division and elevate our profession.

ATISDA: What do you hope to bring to this position?

Rafa Lombardino: I’m aiming at building upon the excellent community outreach that my predecessors have achieved. The previous administration saw much more engagement in social media, increased the number of collaborators on our blog, and welcomed more attendees during our annual gatherings and guest-speaking sessions. I just want to make sure that we keep bringing people together, so we can learn from one another and benefit from the diversity within our Portuguese-speaking community.

ATISDA: What is your previous experience within the Portuguese Language Division?

Rafa Lombardino: I actually became part of the PLD Leadership Council in 2015, when I was invited to take over the Blog Editor role. Considering my experience in journalism, I was able to implement a publishing schedule and system to make it easier to bring in new articles, either written originally for our blog or reposted with the permission of guest bloggers. Consequently, we were able to publish about 30-35 posts a year since then and expanded our readership and presence online. Luckily, we identified one of our members as a potential replacement when I was selected to run for Administrator, so I’m extremely happy that we had a seamless transition and my dear colleague Bia Figueiredo was able to take over and build upon the foundation I had created, not only to keep the publishing schedule going, but to also fully migrate our website and blog to a new platform hosted by the ATA itself!

ATISDA: What are some ways translators and interpreters can get involved in Divisions and associations like ATISDA? How can Divisions and associations stay connected with their members?

Rafa Lombardino: As a founding member of ATISDA back in 2008, I’ve always been interested in keeping in touch with colleagues to learn from their experiences and share things that I’ve learned throughout my career. I suggest that T&I professionals reach out to their local associations and see how they can help, either hosting a networking, brainstorming, or workshop event or simply writing an article for their blog. I also wrote an article about how to run an ATA Division and chapter blog, after doing a presentation on the subject this past conference. We usually work by ourselves, in our own home office or co-working space, so interacting with people who face the same professional challenges as we do will not only help strengthen the community, but your career may also benefit from it as you meet colleagues who can become potential collaborators and business partners.

ATISDA: What advice do you have for translators new to the field?

Rafa Lombardino: Never stop seeking knowledge. Learn more about yourself as a translator or interpreter. Improve yourself constantly. Try to find a niche and specialization. Interact with others, so you can learn from their experience. Find new ways to streamline your work and become more productive and efficient. And, above all, enjoy what you do―always!

ATISDA: What advice do you have for more veteran translators?

Rafa Lombardino: Lose your fear of presenting yourself as a business owner and marketing your services. I’ve met so many amazing translators and interpreters who have reached a roadblock in their career simply because they were afraid of showcasing their professional services. I always tell them, “You know your business and skills better than anyone, so you gotta tell people about it. Nobody’s gonna come knocking on your door to see if you can help them. You must identify those who can benefit from your services and reach out to them.” Having said that, the only other crucial piece of advice I can give T&I professionals, on top of becoming more business and marketing savvy, is to diversify their services, so they can better deal with the ups and downs in demand in our industry and maintain sustainable operations.

ATISDA: Thank you for graciously sharing your experience! We are fortunate to have you represent us in ATISDA.

Rafa Pink

Rafa Lombardino

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 UCSD 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. In addition to acting as content curator at eWordNews, a collective blog about translation and literature, she also runs Word Awareness, a small network of professional translators, coordinates Contemporary Brazilian Short Stories (CBSS), a project to promote Brazilian literature worldwide, and is the current American Translators Association – Portuguese Language Division (ATA-PLD) for the 2017-2019 term.