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Featured Article from The ATA Chronicle (October 2007)

2007 ATA
Pro Bono/School Outreach Project
Center for the Art of Translation
By Kirk Anderson, 2007 Pro Bono Project Coordinator

The beneficiary of this year’s ATA pro bono project is the San Francisco-based Center for the Art of Translation (CAT), whose groundbreaking program, Poetry Inside Out (PIO), brings translators into Bay Area classrooms. CAT will be presented with ATA’s first award for outstanding achievement in translation in public education. In addition to a monetary prize, ATA will place as many as 20 volunteer translators and interpreters in PIO classrooms to discuss our professions with the students. Those attending ATA’s Annual Conference in San Francisco can see students participate in a reading on November 1 at Chronicle Books, 680 Second Street, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Founded by ATA member Olivia Sears, CAT receives support from 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), which features English translations (always published with at least an excerpt of the original) from dozens of languages in genres extending far beyond traditional literature.

Among CAT’s most innovative activities is its PIO program, which brings literary translators into elementary and middle school classrooms in the San Francisco Bay Area’s public schools to talk about the art of translation. Among other things, the PIO program, which works predominantly with bilingual Latino children, but is also developing a pilot program in Chinese, seeks to demonstrate the benefits of bilingualism, encourage language learning, and promote reading and translation skills through a series of activities, culminating in anthologies of student work and public poetry recitals.

As is clear from the published anthologies and the awards won by students, the program is a remarkable success. In talking with CAT’s administrators about ATA’s upcoming conference, they expressed an enormous interest in bringing ATA members into their classrooms to provide their students with a broader perspective on the power of translation. After the initial volunteer visit on November 1, 2007, volunteers from the Northern California Translators Association, an ATA chapter, will continue to visit classrooms during the remainder of the 2007–2008 school year.

The PIO program, the only one of its kind, echoes ATA’s primary purpose: to promote the recognition of the translation and interpreting professions. By recognizing and supporting such a program, ATA not only encourages the expansion and replication of their efforts and similar local grassroots efforts to raise awareness of translation and interpreting, 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 would like to thank CAT and its 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, Jacki Noh, and Ines Swaney in particular for their support of this project; ATA’s Board and Headquarters staff for their assistance in making this project a reality, and particularly ATA Public Relations Committee members Lillian Clementi and Tony Beckwith; and the many volunteers who have yet to be selected as of this writing.

For more information
Center for the Art of Translation