ATA, Conferences

The Hostess with the Mostest: NCTA at the Conference

By Ayano Hattori

It’s easy to sit back and let the national organization do everything when its annual conference comes to your city. But then, that’s not NCTA’s style.

Since the ATA national conference last came to San Francisco in 1997, the city has held the record for the largest number of attendees at the annual event. And naturally so—with our fine attractions, diverse culture, and, of course, our committed local translator community that makes the Bay Area language environment so special.

NCTA as a group proved this true as an enthusiastic host chapter to another record-breaking number of attendees—1,850 in all—by more than simply offering directions to nearby eateries. The goals as a host chapter were twofold. One was to play host to the attendees: to provide simple maps to the sights, tastes, and fun in and around town. The second goal was to promote the visibility of the chapter. NCTA is one of the largest and most active groups of ATA, so it was an opportunity to showcase the strengths of the organization and present the advantages of being a member.

These daunting tasks were tackled head on collaboratively by a volunteer team. Preparations began early in the year using the latest technology to communicate needs and ideas. NCTA veteran Sylvia Korwek said that the “contrast (to 10 years ago) is mainly technical.” Instead of calling each and every member, as was the case years ago, much of the communications was done electronically—a wiki, as well as a sign-up sheet for staffing the table, were set up online. Although recruiting volunteers proved a bit difficult in the beginning—perhaps because of the impersonal nature of the ubiquitous technology?—the NCTA table turned out to be well-staffed during the course of the conference.

Those who did volunteer did so with a terrific spirit. A couple of our colleagues even went so far as to personally show visitors around: neighborhood walking tours were coordinated by Naomi Baer, as was chantey singing on a boat, arranged by Maria Luisa Boden. Though hired per diem ATA staff could possibly fill the void, nothing beats the atmosphere created by both newbies with fresh feedback and seasoned veterans actively engaging with fellow industry members and offering knowhow and advice.

While the camaraderie was confirmed by the hubbub at the table, further, indirect PR efforts came from our many NCTA colleagues who were speakers at the event. Information on their sessions were on display at the table, not only reinforcing the strength of content that our chapter offers through periodic workshops throughout the year, but also demonstrating that the organization’s membership itself includes a fine set of experts on many topics. NCTA vice president Yves Avérous, speaking on the latest on wikis and blogs, even had mentions in his session of the latest online NCTA presence stemming from our host role. Truly, hosting the conference was a display of professional credibility and welcoming pride that  comes with being an NCTA member.