The California Healthcare Interpreting Association (CHIA) celebrated its 8th Annual Conference in Costa Mesa, California during the weekend of April 11-12. BY JUDIT MARIN

The theme of this year’s Conference was “From Grass Roots to Redwoods: the Growth of Healthcare Interpreting in California.” In her welcoming remarks, Elizabeth Nguyen, CHIA’s newly elected President, noted that during the past few decades, tremendous demographic changes have continued to present new challenges as well as opportunities for healthcare providers, language providers, individual interpreters, and educational institutions to work together towards the common goal of improving access to health care for our diverse communities.

Nearly 215 attendees from every corner of the state of California as well as a good number of attendees from other parts of the country convened at the Holiday Inn in sunny Costa Mesa. The conference was hosted by the Los Angeles Chapter headed by co-chairs Lourdes Cerna and Nick Arce, along with many volunteers who made every effort to ensure another successful CHIA Conference.

The conference program offered a rich variety of seminars and workshops covering a wide range of topics such as: interpreting for languages of limited diffusion, interpreting in the field of mental health, interpreting in correctional facilities, educational programs, technology, and other medical interpreting models around the world. As in previous CHIA events, several exhibitors attended the conference and contributed to its success. Among the exhibitors present were interpreting agencies, educational institutions, companies selling software specifically designed for healthcare interpreting, and booksellers.

First day events

On Friday, April 11, the first day of the conference, there were two afternoon seminars: “Expanding Our World: Interpreting for Languages of Limited Diffusion” and “Evaluating Current Interpreting Training Models: Developing a New Educational Paradigm.” Both seminars were presented by highly respected names in the healthcare interpreting world. The first seminar was led by Janet Erickson-Johnson and Linda Joyce who presented a very informative session about the challenges posed to language services, healthcare institutions, and interpreters due to the dramatic increase of indigenous Mexican and Central American immigrants as well as refugees from other nations. Perhaps the highlight of this seminar was a demonstration of relay interpreting with two Mixteco speakers from Ventura County. (Mixteco is a family of languages spoken by a significant minority of Oaxacans). In addition, Tatiana Vizcaino-Stewart, Marylyn Mochel and Fatima Nunez de Jaimes offered a comprehensive seminar that presented an educational model to assess, train, and qualify health care interpreter trainers as well as a proposal of five instructional strategies to further develop language proficiency of training participants and five essential skills that need to be integrated in any training curriculum.

Two more fascinating workshops completed the first day of the Conference: a session on interpreting in the mental health field and a separate session on interpreting in correctional facilities and other dangerous settings. The evening ended with a well attended dinner during which attendees had the opportunity to network and socialize.

Saturday Events

On Saturday, April 12th, CHIA celebrated its General Membership meeting at which past Officers Tatiana Vizcaino-Stewart, Lourdes Cerna, James Carmazzi, and Katharine Allen were honored. There was also a special mention of all family members and friends of those who work tirelessly to make CHIA the successful organization that it is. During the Annual Awards session, Eva Molina received the Interpreter of the Year Award and a very emotional Marilyn Mochel received a well-deserved Trainer of the Year Award. The day continued with nearly 17 workshops making it difficult at times for attendees to decide which ones to attend. CHIA Educational Committee also presented an overview of two new CHIA trainings that soon will be available throughout California. The first is a training session for administrators to assist them in understanding the role of training and qualifying interpreters as part of the medical team. The second is training for healthcare interpreters and CHIA members to acquaint them with the California Standards and with opportunities to improve their interpreting practice.

As always the Annual CHIA Educational Conference offered a rich variety of seminars and workshops, fulfilling its goal and vision of serving as a great venue for learning, networking, and celebrating our profession.