By Carol Velandia
We are not makers of history, we are made by history.
Launching a blog has proven to be a herculean task, as writing only comes to many after the experiences and ideas have settled in the mind and in the heart for long periods of time. It takes courage to share such ideas and a readiness to find resonance as well as dissonance with the public with whom you share such ideas. This is the first step in what we hope is a provocative and evocative collection of documents that will help our profession and our professionals stay relevant, inspired and motivated.
The task of the administrator is to be an effective channel of communication, providing relevant information to interpreter members and to listening to their experiences and challenges. For the launching of our new blog, we decided to listen to the voices of history, to the people that made the Interpreters Division possible. What we are today is the legacy of those who came before us. In turn, we will leave our legacy to the future administrators and members.
The sizable Division of 3000+ members and counting started with just a few dozen in 1998 with Susana Stettri-Sawrey. She was the first administrator before the Interpreters Division was even a division. Diane Teichman was first elected administrator in 1999 and served for three consecutive terms. Diane faced the challenges and the privileges of person-to-person contact. There was no Facebook or Twitter through which to reach out, yet she managed to “bring” interpreters from all parts of the country to the Division, growing the membership base from dozens to over a thousand. She literally gave them a voice, or rather, “The Interpreters Voice,” the Division’s newsletter, and first website. In it, she, and all the administrators after her, compiled the expertise of interpreters in each field of interpretation.
The second generation brought Helen Cole who continued this legacy, increasing the number of interpreter members. Gio Lester shared her impressive managerial and people skills to a project that brought together practicing interpreters, agency owners and instructors to create. This project, “The Interpreting Booklet,” acknowledged ATA’s interest in and recognition of the profession as a whole. She was also responsible for creating the Divisions Listserve, a forum where interpreters could interact online.
The third generation, made up by Armando Ezquerra Hasbun and Steve Mines, promoted the Advisory Committees, which later became the ID Leadership Council of today. Later, Robert Brara stepped in as an administrator and Thelma Ferry devoted a significant amount of her efforts to promoting sessions of the annual conference dedicated solely to interpretation, as well as developing a social media presence. Marilia Vinson made possible the participation of the legendary Sigfried Ramler as our Distinguished Speaker.
By interacting with the majority of the Interpreters Division’s previous administrators, I realized that though I did not necessarily know them personally, I knew about their accomplishments, and understood the importance of their legacy. They may no longer serve as administrators, but their legacy lives on.
Today, as Isaac Newton so wisely put it, “if I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”…or at least that is our ambition, to see further, to continue with the legacy left by the previous administrators.
The leadership council and I think that our blog will be an effective way to continue sharing the legacy of our predecessors as well as bringing forth the wealth of knowledge and expertise in the field.
Transitioning from the newsletter to a blog will mean that our articles will be more frequent: we plan to post a new article every other week. We hope to post material that sparks your interest, regardless of the field you chose, be it medical, conference, judiciary, community or business. Our hope is not only to inspire you but also to be inspired by you and your story. Every interpreter has a story and we want you to feel empowered to share yours. We hope you read the blog and find points with which you can agree or even disagree. We don’t aspire to uniformity of thought; on the contrary, we hope to find a diversity of opinions and views, which is the only way to enrich our knowledge about our profession.
As of today, our profession is still developing and, to a large extent, is somewhat fractured. A strong Division is an important step towards focusing efforts on elevating professional standards and thus improving professional recognition. The blog is a not a solution to all problems, but it will be the Division’s tool to share knowledge moving forward. The quality of the articles depends on your participation; the scope of our advocacy depends on your inquiries. You are part of this, so let’s begin.