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  • Writer's pictureFang Sheng

ATA63 – A Recap

(This is a repost from Yifeng, a blog of the Chinese Language Division, American Translators Association. The original post is here:

Opening Reception

By: Fang Sheng Edited by: Ben Murphy

As we resettle into our daily routine of work and life, the 63rd Annual Conference of the American Translators Association ( still resonates in our minds. Memories of fun and learning, friendships new and old, as well as actionable items inspired by attending the seminars, make this year’s annual conference another unique experience.

Held from October 12 to 15 in Los Angeles, ATA63 was an all-onsite event, in contrast to ATA62 in Minneapolis, which was a dual-track conference offering both online and onsite activities. Instead of live-broadcasting all the seminars and making them available for post-event viewing, this year’s conference presented all the events completely without streaming. Yet, it’s estimated that over 1,000 members attended this year’s conference. The diversity of the topics and events presented, the easing of COVID travel restrictions, and probably the attraction of L.A. itself, might have contributed to this year’s nice turnout.

Joel Sahleen, Distinguished Speaker, presenting on localization

Chinese Language Division members were very active participants in this year’s Annual Conference. We had in total 7-8 CLD members who presented diverse topics, from localization by our Distinguished Speaker Joel Sahleen, to language-specific subject matter such as “Translating Xi Jinping” and “Interpreting for the Tokyo Olympics,” to sharing of tech know-how, such as “Digital Note Taking” or “Misinformation in Machine Translation,” or discussion on financial derivatives; some even ventured into areas such as creative writing or subtitling. At the Book, Podcast, and Blog Fair—another unique event new to onsite attendees—we also had a number of CLD members showcasing their products and services.

AST day was, as always, a major attraction. The learning from such half-day sessions was in-depth and hands-on, bringing attendees many actionable tips. Although the price tag was seemingly high, from what was learned, this reporter believes (and many colleagues who attended would agree) this was an investment worth every dollar.

Then, we also had a problem—a good kind. On October 25, in the CLD Café, our Chinese Language Division’s monthly Zoom get-together, we had a debriefing session on ATA63. One of the “complaints” we have heard most frequently was that there were so many good seminars and schedule conflicts were unavoidable. And almost of all of us attendees had to pick one session over another otherwise really great one, or had to hop from one to another trying to catch both, which of course compromised the learning experience to a certain extent.

One way the conference organizers offered to help address this issue is the ATA63 app, which includes a dynamic session schedule, presented by day, allowing attendees to mark and customize the sessions they wanted to go to. Available both for smartphones and for web-based browsing, the app also offered features such as event alerts, attendee connections, CE points records, venue maps, etc., all of which were very handy for attendees.

However, most of us were disappointed that the sessions were not recorded, denying us the opportunity to benefit from sessions we were unable to attend in person. We understand that ATA has its budgetary considerations. However, we, as members, would appreciate it if some form of recording and post-event viewing could be provided, like the DVDs offered in earlier annual conferences—and most members would be very willing to pay for them to cover at least some of the cost. At the debrief session, some suggested that we invite some of the presenters to give us “sequel seminars,” to share with CLD members who might have missed the sessions or couldn’t attend the conference in person this year.

Chinese Language Division dinner

Nonetheless, as the Chinese say “flaws do not hide true beauty,” those of us who attended do appreciate that ATA63 was an amazing event, one which once more promoted our profession, connected members, and strengthened our bond. We in CLD also met with many first-timers this year, including a number of young students and graduates of MIIS (Middlebury Institute of International Studies). The learning and connection they got were boosters for their future careers.

We hope to see everybody at ATA64 in Miami!

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