Here comes the 2011 ITA Conference

February is approaching fast, for better and for worse.
For better, because I'm looking forward to the conference.
For worse, because I should have, by now, submitted my presentation, but I have not.
Which means I should turn down work, for a few days at least, and get that lecture and presentation down on record!

Several of my colleagues have already posted links to the conference program, and said all sorts of nice things about it. There was one guy, however, who – a propos of conferences in general, apparently – wrote on FB that he just doesn't see the point in conferences, where people come mainly to mingle, drink lousy coffee and eat rogalach. Or something to that effect. I'm not his FB "friend" so I don't have access to the precise quote.

Dear T.P., I guess you've had unpleasant experiences of conferences. I can't argue with you, because I don’t recall attending any serious conference other than the ITA's. There was one totally commercial "conference" organized by in June 2006, about inter-cultural business and communication, where I gave a lecture-cum-presentation entitled Good Translation as a Way of Dealing with Inter-Cultural Gaps. But it didn't feel like a "real" conference. And I know Hubby has been to several work-related conferences over the years, in Israel and abroad, but I couldn't get a proper description out of him of what those were like. Mostly they involved spending time in airports and hotels. So all I have to go on is the ITA conferences I took part in over the past few years. And let me tell you, they were great.

I started small, by attending for only a few hours, but I quickly got hooked, and graduated to "Full Program", minus the first-day workshops. So what's so great about them? Briefly:
  • Call it mingling, schmoozing, networking, or whatever: it's being with like-minded people who know what you're talking about when you complain about a difficult text or vent about an awkward customer.
  • You are not alone in the universe! There are intelligent beings out there! For a person who works cooped up at home at least 5 days a week, seeing mostly his/her computer screen and physical cluttered desktop, and talking to oneself or one's pet, be it cat or rock, this is a delightful change. You catch up, exchange tips, commiserate and whatnot, in real-time! Face-to-face! Not on chat or FB or email or even phone; real, live, human communication! You step on their toes, they actually let out an audible "Ouch!"
  • No cooking, no washing up, no dieting, no shopping. Just eat and drink. I have nothing against rogalach – when they're good, they're delicious. But at most conferences rogalach et al are just a footnote in the general fare. The food is plentiful, varied, and actually rather tasty. The choice of desserts is mind boggling. Though if you're strict – like my friend LBO who must watch his weight if he wants his ultralight to stay afloat with him plus a passenger aboard – you can make do with a healthful piece of fruit. See ultralight: 
  • Other people's lectures and presentations: I love the wide choice. The weighing of pros and cons, which lecture might be more interesting, more fun, more useful. Sure, they don't all live up to expectations. But then some surpass expectations. So yes, I have learnt quite a bit and laughed quite a bit. (And yawned here & there – so what?)
  • Giving a lecture/presentation can be nerve-racking and stressful… at least until you're well into it and on a roll. But it's also extremely satisfying and gratifying. Seeing your audience nod in agreement and understanding… Hearing them chuckle (at the right places), and knowing that you're being helpful and useful.
  • I get to see and hear people whose work – whether in the language professions or other fields – I admire, and can ask them questions and/or go up to them and express my admiration. This year, for example, I'm looking forward to hearing Prof Gabriela Shalev, Israel's Ambassador to the UN until late 2010. Also, having been involved in amateur dramatics for years and interested in translation for the stage, I'm curious about Prof Shimon Levy and his team of actors' take on translation for stage.

Well, that's enough. I feel like I'm preaching to the choir. What I'd really like to do is convince "unaffiliated" colleagues to join the ITA and attend the conference. Yes, I mean you – HG, JT, HF, GB – among others. Try it. You'll like it; and if you don't overdo the food stuff, you won't have to reach for the Alka-Seltzer.


Jennifer said...

Now I really wish I were going!
Especially knowing that I'll miss Shimon Levy's presentation. I honestly feel a pang of regret now...
Not only was Shimon my teacher (he wasn't a professor then yet) in Montreal (McGill University), he was a friend, not to mention a mentor. I babysat his children both in Montreal and then in Israel when he moved back (the end of his "7 fat years", he used to say). He's been translating plays for as long as I can remember (mostly from German to Hebrew בזמנו). His greatest love was - and likely still is - Beckett. He also did a wonderful job of translating some children's books, I remember and he's the one who encouraged me to translate way back when, telling me that translation is creation in its own right (he did warn me, however, that "translation is like a woman - either beautiful or faithful...")
Oh boy, what a flood of memories...

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