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

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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.


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Comic-Con International 2017: The T&I Connection


For Comic-Con 2017 this year, ATISDA sent an elite group of undercover heroes (translators and interpreters by day) to prepare a top-secret dispatch on all the goings-on in San Diego for the international event. Here is the report they filed back at HQ:

Two years ago, our ATISDA undercover superheroes brought you the scoop on how many professional T&I opportunities you could find at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) International. If you missed it, you can read it here. Since that blog post, many of you have shared with us your successful stories working as translators and copywriters and with localizing materials for the gaming and entertainment industry. Last year, one of our ATISDA members was hired to interpret for a comic artist during SDCC, which required both simultaneous and consecutive interpreting skills. In addition to that, some of our members were able to learn how to create fictional languages at the CFI Annual Conference held in Los Angeles last October from none other than the brilliant David J. Peterson, who is the creator of several fictional languages featured in TV shows and movies, including Valyrian from HBO’s Game of Thrones.


After reading all that, you can imagine how excited our undercover heroes were to visit this year’s SDCC. Well, their excitement came to an end when the first translated signs they were able to find, located outside the Mattel Vault, were poorly translated. If you look at the translated sign shown below, you will realize that just having a fresh pair of qualified eyes to proofread and edit the text would have taken this translation from bad to excellent. Why wasn’t a professional hired to do that job? Because it is up to us, translators and interpreters, to educate the clients. An easy way to get the message across is by sharing the publications Translation and Interpreting: Getting it Right available on the American Translators Association (ATA) website. If we all try to educate at least one new client this year, it will make a big difference and we will not find so many of these mediocre translations at international events like Comic-Con. Will you help us? May the force be with us!


Translated sign at Comic-Con. A professional Spanish translator and editor would be able to improve this translation.






Badly Explain Your Job: Translator and Interpreter Edition

palm tree on beach

As we welcome the warmer summer days, it seemed like the perfect time to take a more lighthearted approach to our profession.

Perhaps you saw the recent social media posts about a game called Badly Explain Your Job in which people summarized their job descriptions in an intentionally misleading way for comic effect. This wordplay game went viral as people had fun writing oddly-phrased descriptions of their jobs. In some cases, it was nearly impossible to guess what the person did based on the awkward or overly-literal description. People had badly explained their jobs too well.

Check out a few examples to see how to play. Since translators and interpreters need context, the type of job has also been provided with the examples, something that was often sorely missing from the original online game. Job titles did not tend to be provided with the summaries.

Here are some ways people in different lines of work might explain their jobs badly.

Badly-explained job: I scurry around after you’re gone to see if you left behind any half-eaten food. I also check if you left me any kind of gift.
(Job: Restaurant worker)

Badly-explained job: I literally take people’s money.
(Job: Bank teller)

Badly-explained job: People throw away half of what I give them but are always annoyed when I show up late.
(Job: Mail delivery person)

Now if anyone knows the value of precision and accuracy in language, it’s translators and interpreters. Our profession is based on opening up communication in places it would otherwise be closed. That might make it challenging to make intentionally misleading word choices. But our extensive linguistic knowledge will make the game all that much easier – and more fun.

Obviously, the work that translation and interpretation professionals do is important and provides real benefits, but surely we can see the humorous side of it, too. After all, there are a lot of possible ways translators and interpreters could have fun badly explaining their profession.

Here are some job descriptions whose meanings intentionally got lost in translation.

Interpreters explaining their jobs badly might say:

  • I put words in people’s mouth.
  • I purposely talk over other people.
  • I repeat what others say as if I had originally said it.


Translators explaining their jobs badly might say:

  • I read what someone else wrote and change the words.
  • I use the dictionary to look up words I already know the meaning of.


And because the translation world relies heavily on project managers and editors, they get to play the game, too.

Project managers explaining their jobs badly might say:

  • Nothing gets done without me, but I don’t actually produce any work.
  • All the people who work for me have never met and never will. I’ve never even met them.


Editors explaining their jobs badly might say:

  • I uncover problems and people thank me, or conversely, want to tell me why I’m wrong.
  • I worry about details that no one else will ever notice. I’ve rewritten this sentence five times.
  • Some people think my job isn’t necessary. Until there’s a problem.


Most importantly, whether you interpret, translate, edit or manage projects, the following description applies:

If I did my job well, you don’t know I did anything.


How else would you badly explain our profession? Share in the comments section!

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Guest Blog: Interpreting at the 2017 World Baseball Classic

Our ATISDA members have unique interpreting and translating assignments that take them to interesting places. Conference interpreter and ATISDA member Carmen Chávez recently had the exciting opportunity to interpret at the World Baseball Classic in San Diego.

Carmen in booth

Carmen Chávez at work in the interpretation booth for the World Baseball Classic

About her experience interpreting at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Carmen writes:


When interpreting takes you to places you never dreamed of, you know that your hard work, persistence, perfectionism, and passion for this art is definitely your calling.

I relocated to the San Diego-Tijuana area 13 years ago with the major task of caring for my ageing mother whose health had quickly declined and required my physical presence to create a stable environment for her. The “professional interpreting” journey has been long and quite challenging, since interpreting became a new career that literally transformed my life and changed my personal perception of the world. I relocated from New York, and my go-get-them mentality was extremely helpful, or so I thought. I soon discovered that my approach was not well received by many California colleagues: I was too aggressive (I spoke my mind); I was too pushy (I am an assertive woman); I was a “know-it-all” (I love to read and my grey hairs have earned me a wealth of experience)!

Why am I emphasizing this before I even begin to discuss my experience at the 2017 World Baseball Classic? Because belief in yourself and a profound love for this incredible profession are key! In addition, we must all strive to achieve balance and equanimity in our personal lives to be successful. Yes, I know this sounds very New Agey; you might even be turned off by these far-fetched yogi suggestions; however, when you prioritize family, work, laughter, travel, and all the wonders that life offers us every single day, the opportunities will flow in surprising ways.

I believe our constant networking, personal conversations, and our support of one another in this highly competitive field is how we value each other and our profession. We take the time to get to know each other personally and professionally. That may entail a phone conversation, working on an assignment with a colleague you admire and respect, networking dinners together, ATISDA meetings, seminars and/or conferences. The point is that you are somehow engaged in this profession through your efforts to consistently learn, increase your knowledge, and remain current on the latest trends in the field.

I happened to be recommended by an outstanding conference interpreter and a highly respected colleague. I had never delved into sports media interpreting before and was a bit doubtful of my baseball learning curve. I had plenty of time to prepare for this opportunity and accepted the challenge.

I was contracted to interpret for the pre- and post-game press conferences for the 2017 World Baseball Classic. This is a huge deal since this event is held every four years by Major League Baseball. Games are simultaneously held at different venues throughout the United States and select international countries to determine which teams will play the final championship round. I had the pleasure of interpreting for the 2017 World Baseball Classic at Petco Park in San Diego, California. The teams that made it to San Diego were Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the United States.


Flags from Venezuela and the Dominican Republic on the field

I prepared for this assignment by thoroughly researching baseball terminology with glossaries from Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic. This proved to be a challenge, as most Latin American countries are baseball aficionados and have their own terminology, e.g., a ground ball is referred to as rola, roletazo, rodado (Mexico); roleta, roletín (Puerto Rico); rollin (Dominican Republic); rolín (Venezuela), with an even greater array of terminology that is accepted in English in this team sport, as well. Clearly, my dilemma sent me into a tailspin, and I stuck to universal baseball terminology presented by CNN Deportes en Español.

I watched the series of the 2013 World Baseball Classic games on YouTube and was able to watch the 2017 World Baseball Classic games that were being aired from across the globe as well. This gave me an edge by keeping up with teams that were being eliminated at the time. It is very important to keep up with the latest changes as they happen.

I was very fortunate to have a booth that provided me with the optimal conditions to concentrate and render simultaneous interpretations during the press conferences. The press conferences were attended by the international sports press corps and our very own local media luminaries from Telemundo, Televisa, and Univisión. Usually, the team coach was accompanied by two or three players that would engage with the press corps; these would sometimes become lively and I had to convey the emotions as expressed by the speaker. Each press conference did not go over 15 minutes, while players would often code-switch (speaking Spanish and then switching to English). This required that I switch frequencies with my interpreting equipment at that precise moment. Once the interpretation was rendered, I had to immediately switch the equipment frequency back to the target language.


Carmen Chávez at work using interpreting equipment in the booth

Players interview panel

Players’ panel

What I truly enjoyed about this opportunity was working with an exceptional team of professional event organizers, technicians, transcriptionists, and representatives of the Major League Baseball staff. When you have the good fortune of working at an event where the organizers “get it” and understand the importance of your role, they will provide you with the needed tools of the trade.

Clearly, it goes without saying that the added plus was having complete access to watch the games from the press box and watching teams warm up from the bullpen. It was absolutely thrilling to watch how fans from Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the United States rooted for their teams. What a rush!! Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined I would be interpreting at the World Baseball Classic for Major League Baseball. My journey has just begun.


Baseball fans in the stadium


Carmen Chavez

Carmen Chávez

Carmen Chávez is a conference interpreter with a wealth of experience working binational events in the United States and Mexico. Her areas of expertise are the environment, homeland security, immigration, health, and human and drug trafficking, as well as others. She is currently working on passing the oral exam for her federal court interpreter certification.


Cover image: Petco Park, San Diego

All other images: Courtesy of Carmen Chávez

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Introducing Your New ATISDA Executive Council

ATISDA has a new Executive Council!

Our organization recently elected Yolanda Secos as President, Dr. Gloria M. Rivera as Vice President, Felipe Ortiz as Treasurer and Melissa Kamenjarin as Secretary. Ursula Carver and Kara Watkins will serve on the Executive Council as Members at Large. The new Executive Council looks forward to serving the members of ATISDA for the next two years.

entire ec

Your new Executive Council: (from left to right) Vice President Dr. Gloria M. Rivera (shown in photo), Treasurer Felipe Ortiz, President Yolanda Secos, Secretary Melissa Kamenjarin, Member at Large Kara Watkins, Member at Large Ursula Carver

This election, which took place on January 28, 2017, would not have been possible without the work of our Nominating Committee, which oversaw the nominations and election. Thank you to Brian Gruters, Marco Díaz and Matt Capelle for their work on the Nominating Committee.


Brian Gruters and Marco Díaz of the Nominating Committee counting votes on election day.


ATISDA’s new Executive Council: (from left to right) Treasurer Felipe Ortiz, President Yolanda Secos, Secretary Melissa Kamenjarin and Vice President Dr. Gloria M. Rivera (pictured in photograph)

So that the members of ATISDA can get to know their new Executive Council, the newly elected council members have provided some information about themselves.


President Yolanda Secos

Yolanda Secos, your ATISDA President, writes:

I was born in Madrid, Spain. After obtaining my degree in English Philology & Education from Universidad Complutense de Madrid, I worked as a foreign language teacher in Spain and England, where I was awarded Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). In 1999, I arrived in the US as part of the Visiting Teachers from Spain Program. During the seven years that I worked as a bilingual teacher in Texas, I was asked to interpret at IEP meetings and translate all kinds of documents to facilitate home-school communication. Upon moving to San Diego, I got a Professional Certificate in English & Spanish Translation and Interpreting from UCSD Extension while working as a Spanish language teacher. I have been a freelance English-to-Spanish translator specializing in education since 2006. I am a voting member of the American Translators Association (ATA) and, last year, I was elected as the new Assistant Administrator of the ATA Spanish Language Division (SPD). I served as the ATA SPD Social Media Committee Chair (2012 – 2016), as a Website Committee member (2014 – 2016), and as the Editor of the ATA SPD newsletter Intercambios (2015 – 2016). I have been serving as the president of ATISDA since the end of 2015, and I am currently a member of the ATA Membership Committee. I am the recipient of the 2016 Harvie Jordan Scholarship. I live in San Diego with my husband and my two children.



Vice President Dr. Gloria M. Rivera

Dr. Gloria M. Rivera, your new ATISDA Vice President, writes:

Dr. Gloria M. Rivera, CMI, CHI, is an English/Spanish certified medical interpreter, conference interpreter, and translator.

She obtained her medical degree from the Universidad San Martin de Porres’ College of Medicine in Lima, Peru. Her medical training allowed her to gather experience in different settings, including pediatrics, internal medicine, OB/GYN, mental health, and general surgery, among other specialties. She worked at the Peruvian Navy Medical Center as a general practitioner and general surgeon.

She holds a Professional Certificate of Translation and Interpretation from UCSD Extension and has taught for the medical branch of this certificate program.

Dr. Rivera is a faculty member of the National Center for Interpretation’s Agnese Haury Institute at the University of Arizona with the Medical Interpreter Training Institute (MITI) and Online Seminars for Medical Interpreters (OSMI), where she has worked as an instructor and contributed to curriculum development since 2013. She also teaches specialized webinars for medical translators and interpreters, as well as general topic webinars for all language professionals.

Dr. Rivera recently became the Editor of the American Translators Association Medical Division publication Caduceus.


Felipe Ortiz

Treasurer Felipe Ortiz

Felipe Ortiz, your new ATISDA Treasurer, writes:

Felipe Ortiz, CMP (Certified Meetings Professional), is a UCSD Extension Translation Certificate student soon to graduate (March 15, 2017).

He worked in the hotel/conventions/hospitality industry for several decades and decided to leave this field and embark on a new career as a translator specializing in the tourism/travel/hospitality industry.

Felipe was born in Mérida, Yucatán, México, where he graduated with a BS in Biological Sciences and then immigrated to California to join his family already living there. Upon his arrival, he enrolled at Grossmont Community College in El Cajon, California and graduated with an AS in Food Service Management.

When he enrolled in the Translation Certificate Program in 2015, he decided to join ATISDA and ATA as a student member. He volunteered to help ATISDA by serving on the Bylaws Revision Committee. The purpose of the revision was to make ATISDA eligible to become an Affiliate member of ATA; this was accomplished and recognized at the recent 57th Annual ATA Conference in San Francisco.

Past notable achievements were his service in the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) San Diego Chapter, where he served on the Board of Directors, and became HSMAI San Diego Chapter President. While in the hotel industry, he was named recipient of the James V. Cunningham award for personalized services, given once a year at the annual industry Gold Key Awards Banquet. Meeting Planners, readers of Successful Meetings magazine, voted him runner up for World’s Best Convention Services Manager in 1989.

He looks forward to contributing to ATISDA’s success and growth, collaborating with other Executive Council members and serving as Treasurer for the next two years.


Melissa Kamenjarin Photo

Secretary Melissa Kamenjarin

Melissa Kamenjarin, your new ATISDA Secretary, writes:

I am a Spanish-English translator, editor and proofreader who joined ATISDA in 2015 while I was studying translation. Since then, I have been actively involved in both ATISDA and the ATA, attending as many events as possible to meet fellow language professionals and learn new skills. I completed my Specialized Certificate in Translation (Spanish/English) from UCSD Extension in 2016.

Before studying Spanish translation, I earned a BA from UCLA in History with a minor in German. I love learning new languages and have studied seven so far.

My editing and proofreading background includes reviewing materials in both English and Spanish. For the past six years, I have proofread marketing communications materials for a Fortune 50 company, where I first started reviewing the materials that had been translated into Spanish and now handle the proofreading for the English language written materials. I also work as a Spanish proofreader for a publishing company, reviewing children’s educational materials and performing technical quality assurance on websites. In addition, I have proofread diverse genres of fiction and non-fiction published books: a murder mystery novel, a self-help guidebook and a magazine article anthology.

Shortly after becoming involved with ATISDA, I became the organization’s blog writer, which I love doing because it gives me the chance to promote our growing organization while educating and connecting our members.

In addition to writing and proofreading articles for the ATA Spanish Division’s publication Intercambios, I also serve as the new Copy Editor for the ATA Medical Division’s publication Caduceus.

I regularly attend the networking events and workshops that ATISDA puts on and am excited to be a part of the new Pensadores group, a joint effort between ATISDA and the ATA Spanish Division that gives members the opportunity to refine their Spanish language knowledge.

I look forward to serving as Secretary for ATISDA, a wonderful organization that has helped me so much personally and professionally.

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“I Love You” in 40 Languages

Just in time for Valentine’s Day on February 14, learn how to say “I love you” in another language! We have a fun collection of translations of the sentence “I love you” – in 40 languages, no less.

This recent Transparent Language blog article provides pronunciation guides and a short audio recording to accompany each sentence. We hope you enjoy, and Happy Valentine’s Day from ATISDA!


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We Know What You Did Last Year!

Did you resolve to get more involved in professional affiliations and networking in 2017? As the newest ATA Affiliate, ATISDA has had a successful past year because of its strong volunteers. Check out the month-by-month review of ATISDA’s accomplishments this year that the Executive Council put together.

You’ll see that ATISDA is on the rise, and you can play a role in making 2017 another strong year for our organization by getting involved throughout the year and voting in the upcoming elections this month.


Our Executive Council writes:

It is said that time flies when you are having fun, and we know that is why 2016 went by so fast for us. Last year was a wild ride, and you, our dear ATISDA members, made it a memorable one.

We have often referred to ATISDA as our small but mighty association. Well, it seems that we are not that small anymore, since our membership grew by 50% in 2016!

A spectacular year has come to a close and here are some of the highlights:

December 2015

ATISDA became an affiliate of the University of Arizona’s National Center for Interpretation (NCI), and through that agreement, our members receive an exclusive discount on all of NCI’s training courses. This is a great opportunity for those ATISDA members who need continuing education credits to fulfill licensing requirements or for new members who wish to hone their interpretation and translation skills.

Those members interested in getting this discount should visit NCI’s website and/or contact ATISDA at to get the discount code after validating their ATISDA membership.

Thanks to ATISDA member Dr. Gloria Rivera for facilitating this relationship with NCI.

January 2016

This was a very busy month for ATISDA. Jenae Spry organized an ATISDA Networking Happy Hour and presented a workshop about Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

After months of hard work from our Bylaws Review Committee (BRC), our members voted to approve the amendments to the ATISDA bylaws and gave the Board the green light to move forward with the request to become an ATA affiliated group.

Thanks to the three members of the BRC, Luis Ortiz, Oscar Gonzales, and Charlotte Bockman, for making that voting possible.


Networking Happy Hour, January 2016



Dragon NaturallySpeaking Workshop, January 2016

February 2016

Jenae Spry hosted an ATISDA Networking Happy Hour, and Dr. Gloria Rivera presented the workshop Ouch! Understanding Pain!

March 2016

Jenae Spry presented a workshop about MS Word for translators and Yedid Becker organized the ATISDA Spring Social.

Joana Vieira became the ATISDA Membership Committee Chair.

Melissa Kamenjarin became our ATISDA blogger. She had very big shoes to fill because our dear Daire Coco had done a phenomenal job, but Melissa has really taken the challenge and run with it. We are loving her blog posts. Keep up the good work, Melissa!

April 2016

The American Translators Association (ATA) approved our Affiliate status on April 30th! You can read more about it here: We would like to thank Jamie Padula and Tony Guerra for their guidance and support during the whole process.

Dr. Gloria Rivera presented the workshop Medical History & Other Stories, and Jenae Spry hosted an ATISDA Networking Happy Hour.

May 2016

Yaisha Vargas did not want to leave California without sharing her expertise with our members and she presented a workshop about mindfulness for translators and interpreters. We miss you, Yaisha!

Marco Díaz organized an ATISDA Networking Happy Hour.

June 2016

Jenae Spry hosted an ATISDA Networking Happy Hour, and ATISDA’s leadership went to support those who took the ATA Certification Exam at the UCSD Extension campus.


Networking Happy Hour, June 2016


ATA Certification Exam, June 2016

July 2016

Guest Speaker Felicity Di Pisa presented a workshop about financial challenges, and Dr. Gloria Rivera hosted an ATISDA Networking Happy Hour.

The ATISDA LinkedIn group was created, which is for ATISDA members only.

August 2016

Jenae Spry hosted an ATISDA Networking Happy Hour, because our members love this monthly event!

September 2016

Jenae Spry presented a workshop about Dropbox and ABBYY FineReader.

Brian Gruters organized the first meeting of Pensadores (Thinkers), a collaboration between ATISDA and the ATA Spanish Division (ATA SPD).

Thanks to Micaela Novas for creating the Google Group Pensadores to provide an electronic space for members to continue refining their Spanish skills between in-person meetings.

The Nominating Committee (NC) 2016/17 was formed. Thanks to the NC members, Matthew Capelle, Marco Díaz, and Brian Gruters, for organizing the upcoming election on January 28th, 2017.

October 2016

Ron Jenson, America’s Life Coach, was the guest speaker at our International Translation Day Celebration 2016. Thanks to Lorena Richards, one of our founding members, for inviting Dr. Jenson to our event!

Brian Gruters organized the second meeting of the ATISDA and ATA SPD Spanish group Pensadores, and Jenae Spry hosted an ATISDA Networking Happy Hour.


Pensadores meeting, October 2016

November 2016

Over 20 of our members attended the ATA’s 57th Annual Conference in San Francisco. Six of our members presented seven different sessions at the conference. We were a very active bunch! You can read about our experiences and see pictures here:

We met to watch the linguist-centered movie Arrival, and Brian Gruters organized a Pensadores meeting.


ATISDA table at the ATA Conference, November 2016


ATA Conference in San Francisco, November 2016


Pensadores meeting, November 2016

December 2016

Marta Nieto organized the ATISDA End-of-the-Year event at the Costa Brava Restaurant.


End-of-the-Year Event, December 2016

Phew! That was a lot! If you are still reading this, we would like to take this opportunity to encourage all ATISDA members to cast their votes in the upcoming election on Saturday, January 28th, 2017. Details here:

Happy 2017 from the ATISDA Executive Council!

Yolanda Secos (President)

Artemisa Valle (Treasurer)

Leo van Zanten (Secretary)


Stay connected with ATISDA!

ATISDA Website:


ATISDA Facebook Page:

ATISDA LinkedIn Group:

ATISDA Discussion Group:

ATISDA YouTube Channel:



Don’t forget to renew your membership. Starting February 1st, 2017, our annual membership fees will be:

Professional – $40

Student – $30

Here is the link to renew your ATISDA membership:


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A Multilingual Holiday Gift for ATISDA

ATISDA has had such a good year that I wanted to share a holiday gift with you all.

Here is a fun blog entry that gives translations of the holiday greeting “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” in dozens of languages. I’ve been saving this present for us all year since I first saw it months ago.

It was put together by the blog Transubstantiation. What makes this compilation of translations stand out from other similar ones is the sheer quantity of languages represented in this posting, in addition to the variety of dialects and languages.

Happy Holidays from ATISDA. Enjoy!


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ATA Conference Wrap-Up and Advice: Tips and Tricks for Your Next Conference

“You need deep water to learn how to swim.”
– Expression from translated book mentioned in a session at the ATA Conference

I recently attended my first American Translators Association (ATA) Conference and found it to be a fun and educational event. This quote about learning to swim by essentially being tossed into the deep end of the pool seemed particularly apt at the moment I scribbled it down during one of the conference sessions. Your typical networking events and business happy hours are much more compartmentalized than the days-long experience of a conference where every person you run into – from the people you share an elevator with to the folks ordering lunch ahead of you in line to those you are sharing a cab with on the way to a Division dinner – are in your field.

It’s an extremely hectic several days – the word whirlwind passed through my mind repeatedly during the conference. The large gathering and busy schedule can be intimidating to a first-time attendee like myself, but I was fortunate to have support from my friends and colleagues here in ATISDA, both before and during the event.

While the event was going on, I took a few notes about tips for future conference attendees.


The lobby of the Hyatt Regency San Francisco, where the 57th ATA Conference was held. The floor shows the lighted ATA logo.

Educate Yourself Before You Go

We all know that the best way to get ready for an unfamiliar experience is to learn about it as much as possible beforehand.

In the weeks leading up to the conference, I read a number of blog posts and articles giving advice on attending the ATA Conference, often shared through the ATISDA Facebook page. The ATA Facebook page also published a number of helpful posts and sent out emails to help attendees get ready.

Ask past attendees about any advice they have for you. I also had some excellent advice before the conference from fellow ATISDA member Dr. Gloria M. Rivera, who gave a free informational webinar about making the most of your conference experience.

Download the App and Update Your ATA Info

The ATA Conference app had the most up to date information about everything going on at the conference. A number of sessions had been canceled or added, and the app was the best way to know about the most current session schedule.

Another good tip I read was to be sure to fill out your contact information in the app in case people want to get in touch with you but don’t have your business card. Part of the contact section includes the link to your resume on the ATA website, so make sure that it is current and matches what you have printed to hand out at the Job Fair or in any other capacity.

Wear Comfortable Shoes

Expect to be on your feet and walking all day. Unless you are a woman who can walk several miles in heels, I suggest flats with some soft gel inserts. Keep in mind also that you may be walking to Division dinners or off-site gatherings, so you will notice the difference it makes when you wear some functional shoes.

Anticipate Potential Aches or Illness

I suggest bringing some extra pain relievers and vitamin C with you. The ATA Conferences are large networking events held in late October/early November during cold season, so you should prepare for the possibility that you might get sick. You might feel a bit achy from all that walking and carrying stuff all day – even though you normally might walk or run several miles a day, you probably don’t do it in dress shoes, even if they are comfortable dress shoes.

Carry Your Supplies for the Day

Packing my dressy tote bag each day reminded me of getting my backpack ready for school when I was younger. I like to have everything I might need for the whole day in there in the morning so that I don’t have to leave a session or conversation early because I have to run to the room or the store to get something. I kept in my tote bag a notebook to take notes during sessions, extra pens, a bottle of water, some extra copies of my resume just in case, lots of business cards and a small bag to collect all the business cards I received each day.

The exception was when I would go to an off-site event at night – no need to bring any resumes or a notebook to dinner. But if you do leave your large tote bag at the room to go out for dinner, don’t forget your business cards.

Carry Your Business Cards at All Times

I made sure to have my business cards with me everywhere I went – even if you are going out to eat or take a walk around the city, you never know who you might run into while you are out.

Take Notes on the Business Cards You Get

Chances are that you will get a business card for each one you hand out. At the end of the day, make a few notes directly on the card about why you got that card: Where did you meet that person? What did you talk about? What will help you remember that interaction? What do you need to do now? For example: Met at the opening ceremony; taught English in China; send info about ATISDA.

If you are ordering new business cards for this conference, get some non-glossy ones with lots of white space on the front and/or back for people to take their own notes.

(Thank you to Dr. Rivera for the excellent business card advice.)

Then Follow Up

After the conference, send a personalized email and maybe also a LinkedIn invite to the people you met. I like to send a LinkedIn invite with a message about how we met at the ATA Conference because it’s entirely possible that that person also gets unsolicited LinkedIn invites, so be sure to refresh your colleague’s memory and stand out from the strangers who may request to connect with your new contact.

Then I will send an email to remind the person of who I am with something in the subject line about having met at the ATA Conference and a note about having sent them a LinkedIn invite, if they have an account on LinkedIn. If you spoke to a recruiter who mentioned their company is looking for your language pair and specialty, send a resume.

It’s okay if you don’t contact all your newly made connections immediately, but don’t wait too long. You can still contact them now. Everyone needs a bit of time after the conference to catch up on all the work and personal obligations that we had to put off during the week of the conference, so now is the perfect time to get in touch.

Do As Much As Possible, But Know Your Limits

It’s impossible to do everything at the conference, so plan your time strategically. If you aren’t a morning person, you don’t need to do the Zumba class at 6 in the morning. You also don’t need to attend every session about a particular topic or talk to every vendor who has a station. I recommend taking breaks when you can and need to, especially if being in large groups or talking to new people isn’t something that comes naturally to you or energizes you.

You Probably Won’t Be Able to Keep Your Schedule

If you are lucky enough to work for yourself or work from home, you might have some routines set up that work nicely for you, but you probably won’t be able to keep them up when you are at the conference. Maintaining a fixed exercise schedule or diet, for example, is difficult when you don’t have as much flexibility over your hours and restaurant options. The good thing is you will likely be walking several miles each day during the course of the conference to make up for anything you can’t control in terms of your exercise routine.

Choose A Couple Sessions Per Time Slot … and Sit Near the Back

The sessions at the conference are, unfortunately, clustered so that many of them take place at the same time, so you will have to pick which is your top choice to attend. Be sure to sit near the back in case you decide that the level is not right for you or the topic is not what you imagined from the description. If you have a second or third choice already made, it will be easy to go to another session at the same time if you need to leave your first-choice session. (Another excellent tip from Dr. Rivera.)

Networking Opportunities Are Everywhere

The Job Fair was one of the more hectic events at this conference, which meant it wasn’t the best place to make a lot of connections, unless you got a bit creative. I found that I spent the majority of my time at the Job Fair in line with other conference attendees who were also waiting to meet a handful of recruiters at employer stations, so I used that time to talk to some of the other professionals in my field who were waiting in line next to me. There’s no rule that says that only employers can do some networking at the Job Fair.

See Vendors and Employers at Your Leisure

Since the Job Fair was so chaotic and crowded, I recommend chatting with the vendors and employers in the booths during the conference, either during sessions or at the end of the day when people are not spending as much time in that room. I heard some conference attendees say that some employers were only at the Job Fair and did not have booths, so it may be worth it to attend the Job Fair and also visit the vendor booths at your convenience.

The best part if you visit during a less crowded time is you can actually have a conversation with the recruiters. My strategy was to introduce myself and ask them about their company. It was as simple as “Hi, I’m Melissa!” and a handshake. Then I asked, “What can you tell me about your company?” That way you get a sense of what that company is looking for and what fields they handle.

Attend a Division Dinner If Possible

Going to a Division dinner is a relatively easy (albeit expensive) way to network with other people who have similar specialties as you. At the Spanish Division dinner I attended, I had the opportunity to meet people seated at my table and talk in detail with them about their experiences, as well as the chance to meet people while waiting in line for the buffet service. The more relaxing part of the dinner setup is there is no pressure to try to meet everyone in a short period of time like there is at other points of the conference, since you will all be staying there for a few hours.

Get Involved in Your Local Group or Division

While the conference was going on, I was lucky enough to be in attendance at many events with my fellow ATISDA members, which made the whole conference seem less like a series of networking events and more like hanging out with friends. I am glad that I got involved in my local ATA Affiliate for many reasons, one of which was I already had people I knew at the conference. Each time I spent time with ATISDA members and some of their friends and colleagues at the conference, it broke down the huge group of 1,800 attendees into smaller groups where I already knew a few people and then was meeting a few new people.

Now that ATA 57 has ended, what other advice would you add to this list of suggestions?