Professional Development

FIT Congress 2017 in Brisbane

2017-08-03 20.26.18I attended the recent FIT Congress in Brisbane, Australia, held Aug. 3-5 at Brisbane Exhibition & Convention Centre. FIT is the Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs / International Federation of Translators.

It was my first time to attend FIT Congress. The first time I heard about it was in 2014 when it held in Berlin, so it was on my radar as something I would like to attend one day. The Congress is held every three years and Brisbane 2017 was the first one held in Oceania since 1996. So, I decided it was a good opportunity to attend while it was close to home, certainly closer than last time, and I am so glad that I went!
It was an exceptional conference and very worthwhile. I enjoyed reconnecting with colleagues from Australia and New Zealand, meeting new people, and attending a SDL Trados workshop the day before the conference. During the conference, I was entertained and educated by a wide array of keynote speeches. I also attended an eclectic range of presentations. With up to eight concurrent sessions, it was difficult to choose where to go, and a few times, I wondered what I was missing in the room next door…
During other sessions, I felt that I was exactly where I was meant to be. Serendipity!

Two weeks later, when I look back over the program, here are the presentations that jump out at me as the best ones that I attended.

  • Colleen Rosas, Maggie Napurrula Burns, Nadyezhda Pozzana – Theresa Napurrula Ross Aboriginal Interpreters Service ‐ Don’t be shame! Building the confidence to be an Aboriginal interpreter
  • KEYNOTE: Prof. Anthony Pym ‐ Translators do more than translate
  • Massey, G. & Ehrensberger‐Dow, M. ‐ The Ergonomics of Professional Translation Under Pressure
  • Hale, S. et al. ‐ Interpreting Challenging Situations in a Police Interview. The Difference Training Can Make to Achieving Accuracy
  • Durban, C. ‐Disruption and Premium Markets—the Wetware Strikes Back
  • PLENARY: Dr. Glenn Flores ‐ Dissatisfied, Misdiagnosed, and At Risk to Die
  • PANEL: Beagley, J & Berner, S. with Durban, C – Monitoring and Analysing: Business Intelligence for Freelancers and Small Businesses 
  • KEYNOTE: Prof. Jemina Napier ‐ Disruption and Diversification in the Deaf World and its Impact on the
    Sign Language Interpreting Profession
  • Tsuboi, M. ‐ Translation Practice in the Age of Globalism and Nationalism: Representations of “Nation” in Japanese  
  • KEYNOTE: Michael Cronin ‐ Why Translation Should Not Cost the Earth: Towards Geocentric Translation Studies

And here are some photos and snaps of presentation slides.

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The theme for this year was “Disruption and Diversification.” Change is good, change leads to new things. But we are constantly reminded by the media that machines are making workers and professionals become redundant. Often the news and social media will state that machine translation and interpreting apps threatening my chosen profession. This conference did the exact opposite, despite some presenters telling us to give up on asking for high rates, quit bucking the trend to post-edit machine translation, and so on. Personally, the conference reinforced that our profession is a human profession where the best job is done by humans, for humans.

In particular, the keynote presentations inspired me to carry on pushing myself to be better, work harder, and aim higher. When I mentioned that I was going to attend this conference, I was met with comments from others that they couldn’t “take a week off work to pay to go to a conference.” I couldn’t understand why they didn’t see the worth in attending. But less than one hour into FIT Congress 2017, I knew that this opportunity for professional development and networking was well worth it. I was investing in myself as a professional, surrounded by my fellow professionals.
If I had to choose just one keynote speech to mention, it would have to be the Day 2 address by Jemina Napier, who delivered her entire address in Australian sign language. This was a first for FIT Congress. She was seamlessly interpreted simultaneously into spoken English by an interpreter who did not appear on the stage. Speaking to a predominantly hearing audience in sign language, Jemina stole the show. She engaged, educated, and entertained the international audience thoroughly, teaching some 800 translators and interpreters about sign language, the Deaf community, language access, and more. I felt uplifted by the power of her presentation in her language. I left with a greater passion for language access, one of our fundamental human rights.

Another highlight of the conference was also on Day 2: a presentation by Paris-based French-English translator Chris Durban entitled, “Disruption and Premium Markets—the Wetware Strikes Back.” Sick of “negotiating” rates with agencies and clients who only seem interested in my “bottom rate” and “fastest turnaround time,” it was a BLAST of fresh air to hear Chris speak with confidence about taking your time to do a thorough job and getting paid as a professional for your professional services. She also reinforced the need for translators to make time to “get out of their hole,” especially to go to events like this conference to meet their colleagues, learn, and network. She also recommended that we go to events that our current and potential clients attend to stay up-to-date in that market, to network, and to find new clients. Listening to Chris, I felt myself sit up in my chair. I could not help nodding and smiling. If I needed to meet one person at this conference, it was Chris Durban. I walked out of that half-hour presentation buzzing, with a spring in my step. So, lucky me! In Brisbane, at FIT Congress, I found someone who works how I want to work. A great role model. So, naturally, I bought her book, “The Prosperous Translator,” and I intend to attend one or more of her masterclasses as soon as possible. Another piece of advice that Chris gave us was to work with a reviewer. I used to insist on working with a reviewer, to ensure the best result, but in recent years I have found that clients are increasingly putting cheaper and faster work over any demands for quality, and their demands have affected my ability to do my best work at times. I have let my guard down, but Chris reminded me that I really need to put my foot down. Now it’s time for me to educate my clients. Relentlessly. Time to insist that I only do my best work. Time to get paid as a professional for a job well done.

Well, this post is getting long and I feel that I have barely scratched the surface on my three-day experience. Suffice to say, I am glad I attended and I am still buzzing from the conference. I’ll sign off here.
By the way, the next FIT Congress will be held in Varadero, Cuba, in 2020. What a wonderful reason to start planning my first trip to Cuba! Well, I plan attend if I’m not in Japan doing Tokyo Olympics related work at the time.

Melanie