ATA Pro Bono Project 2007
The Center for the Art of Translation
The beneficiary of this year's pro bono project is the San Francisco-based Center for the Art of Translation (CAT). Founded by ATA member Olivia Sears, CAT receives support from numerous donors, including the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council. Among its many activities, CAT publishes the respected literary annual Two Lines: A Journal of Translation — now in its 14th year of publication — which features English translations from dozens of languages, in genres extending far beyond traditional literature. On November 1, CAT launched its most recent series: New World/New Words: Recent Writing from Latin America.
One of CAT's most innovative initiatives is its Poetry Inside Out (PIO) program, which brings literary translators into Bay Area elementary and middle school classrooms to teach the art of translation. Through a series of activities, culminating in anthologies of student work and public poetry recitals, the PIO program seeks to demonstrate the benefits of bilingualism, encourage language learning, and promote reading and translation skills. Although the current program works predominantly with bilingual Latino children, a pilot program in Chinese is being developed.
On October 31, 2007, two intrepid ATA volunteers, Inés Swaney and Tony Beckwith, visited a PIO classroom here in San Francisco. We had been forewarned to recruit engaging, charismatic presenters because the kids were capable of "eating unwary visitors alive." The visit was a resounding success. The kids listened in rapt attention to Inés and Tony’s anecdotes about their experience as professional translators and interpreters, and — I think this says it all — the session ended with the kids asking for Inés and Tony’s autographs. What's more, Tony and Inés walked away inspired by the students and confident that they had planted some seeds that may one day bear fruit in the form of the next generation of our colleagues.
For the first time, ATA's pro bono project will extend beyond the conference. Over the rest of the school year, members of ATA's local chapter, the Northern California Translators Association (NCTA), will visit other PIO classrooms to discuss our professions with the students. CAT is also considering bringing professional translators and interpreters into the classrooms as a permanent component of their program. (If you're a bay area translator or interpreter interested in getting involved, please contact NCTA for more information.) Inés and Tony would also be pleased to talk to anyone interested in learning more about their experience in the classroom.
ATA has presented The Center for the Art of Translation with the first ATA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Promoting Translation in Public Education. The PIO program, the only one of its kind, echoes ATA's primary purpose: to promote the recognition of the translation and interpretation professions. By recognizing and supporting such a program, ATA not only encourages the expansion and replication of their efforts and similar efforts to raise awareness of translation and interpretation, but also plays an active role in the cascading impact such efforts will have on future generations of language professionals and their clients.
On behalf of ATA, I'd like to thank CAT and their PIO program for the great work they are doing; the Northern California Translators Association in general, and Tuomas Kostiainen, Yves Avérous, Naomi Baer, Alison Dent, and Jacki Noh, in particular for their support of this project; the ATA board and headquarters staff for their assistance in making this project a reality; and especially Inés Swaney and Tony Beckwith, for going where no translators have gone before.
2007 Pro Bono Project Coordinator