This past weekend I had the honor of attending the 2017 TAPIT Conference. Their theme was "The Immediate Future of Language Access" and I was able to present "Standards, Consistency, Efficiency: Building up the Interpreting Profession". It was an especially unique honor for me because it was the first time I worked alongside one of my daughters. It was truly a delightful experience all around.
While there I was asked, "Why are you here?" It was curious that someone from Green Bay, WI would be at a conference in Nashville, TN. I had two answers to that question.
It is always fascinating to see how others view our profession. Conference attendees are dedicated and care about their professional development and the development of healthcare interpreting. There is a buzz of excitement, engagement and a willingness to learn. TAPIT attendees were no different.
On Saturday night, Riannon (my daughter) and I went to dinner at Salsa and continued to meet others attending the conference. And to our surprise, we were entertained by some of the best music I've ever heard. One of the interpreters and organizers of the conference performed with esteemed musical and professional colleagues from around the world. She shared her story about becoming an interpreter. For her it was when she traveled with her band as a teenager and girls wanted to meet some of the guys.
In another conversation I learned about a colleague experiences interpreting for her mother starting at 10 years of age as her mother battled cancer. And another story started in 1976! And the stories went on and on.
As I stepped back for a moment I realized that the best part of attending conferences like TAPIT's are the stories. Interpreting is a unique profession in that it brings together people who would otherwise never have met. These are people from around the world who have found a common profession that continues to grow. In no other context would I have the opportunity to hear about life journeys from so many others.
That night I realized that although I am from a very small town in northeast WI I am a part of a whole. The path that every interpreter takes is unique and vivid. There are very few who knew from the start that interpreting was for them. I know that I am a part of that group. But here's the thing...
Through all of the work that has been done to shape our profession there continues to be more and more people who see how great it is to be a healthcare interpreter. People see the value in the human element and care about healthcare and its impact on everyone. And it was a great experience to see all of that in action.
So to answer the question, "Why were you there?" I say it's all about the people. It's all about learning form one another and discussing thoughts and experiences. And TAPIT has an incredible group of people.
Thank you to everyone at the Tennessee Association of Professional Interpreters and Translators for being a welcoming and inviting group. I look forward to continuing our dialogue and being part of the immediate future of language access!