contributed by Anthony Beesley

LUNA was delighted to attend the American Translators Association (ATA) conference October 25 – 28th in Washington D.C.  As both a translator and translation project manager, I hoped to get a lot out of the experience, from fresh ideas about how to improve my own work to new connections with people who do what I do. My colleague Nemin Sakuthay, LUNA’s in-house Burmese and Karen translator, came with me and will also be sharing his experience in an upcoming post.

This was a nice opportunity for the two of us to get to know each other better, especially while spending hours at the airport and on the runway due to flight delays, and we had some great translator-to-translator conversations. Familiar mainly with the Romance languages, which have so much in common with English, I always learn something new from Nemin’s perspective and the unique challenges he faces in his work.

The first morning of the conference, we arrived bright and early for breakfast, followed by the opening session. After that, we were off to the lecture sessions, which were organized into blocks with coffee breaks and other socializing events in between. When choosing sessions to attend, my first goal was to better myself as a project manager and pick up some innovative ideas and strategies I could take back to LUNA. I attended a lecture given by a company with a larger translation department and learned a bit about how they vet translators and manage the life cycle of a translation project.

The second goal was to better myself as a translator—and here, I was not disappointed! I attended several fascinating lectures on legal translation and the challenges of translating for immigration, things we handle on a daily basis at LUNA. My favorite lecture was given by a Ph.D. student in the translation program at the university where I recently graduated, Kent State. She talked about skopos theory—the concept that the end function of a translation should determine the translator’s approach—and how this applies to translating immigration documents.

Besides connecting with several other companies and translators, I had the chance to meet up with some professors and former classmates from my university, and we organized a lunch the day before the end of the conference. We had a great time catching up with each other and discussing the lectures.

Overall it was a great event and I am grateful I was able to attend. One of my primary takeaways was that I have already learned so much of what was discussed and taught at the conference during my time at LUNA. It was really a great confirmation of the work we do every day!