This year’s ATA School Outreach Contest winner gave an interactive presentation on translation at Instituto Thomas Jefferson in Zapopan, Mexico.
Above photo: Aída Carrazco assists students during an interactive comic book translation activity at Instituto Thomas Jefferson in Zapopan, Mexico, in 2022.
ATA-certified English>Spanish translator Aída Carrazco won the 2022 ATA School Outreach Contest. She received a free registration to ATA’s 63rd Annual Conference in Los Angeles, California, for submitting a story and photo she took with students during her interactive presentation to her son’s classroom at Instituto Thomas Jefferson in Zapopan, Mexico.
Keeping Students Engaged with an Interactive Post-Pandemic Presentation
Both of Aída’s children attend Instituto Thomas Jefferson, a bilingual school where more than half the subjects are taught in English. Aída said she specifically chose to visit her son’s classroom because he’s always shown interest in her profession. She wanted to use this opportunity to show his classmates what she does for a living and make him feel proud.
When Aída gave her School Outreach presentation to her son’s fifth grade class in March 2022, kids were just going back to school after 16 months of studying from home. After that, they had six months of hybrid learning, where kids would go to class online if COVID cases resurged. That meant she faced a unique challenge: students weren’t used to being in the classroom anymore. She wanted to make sure she was keeping their attention by making her presentation extra fun.
Aída took her son’s classroom by storm with a wide array of interactive activities. She started by introducing herself and asking if they knew what a translator was. Their answers described an interpreter, so she showed them the differences between the two professions. She then gave examples of different areas of specialization. After that, she asked which languages they spoke and if they had used them to translate or interpret for other people. “They told me funny anecdotes from family trips and friends’ visits where they had to interpret for their parents or grandparents,” Aída said.
Aída then split students into teams. The students translated the information on a package of candy and transcreated some jokes and comics. “I brought three different comics, each one with a joke. In my winning picture, I’m explaining what transcreation is, and why it’s important to use creativity while translating this type of content.”
One team even translated content about children and the war in Ukraine. “With these exercises, students understood how translation can help people, even children, and that they can find translated content everywhere. They also discovered the importance of localization through funny and awkward translation examples,” she explained.
After working on translation, Aída moved on to showcase examples of audiovisual translation. “I showed students a video explaining the differences between dubbing for Spain and for Mexico,” she said. This piqued students’ curiosity and they asked follow-up questions about the differences between dubbing and subtitling.
Then came an interpreting exercise. Three students volunteered to participate as interpreters in this activity. “I read a text in Spanish, and they interpreted into English, first consecutively and then simultaneously. They really enjoyed this exercise and realized that interpreting is not as easy as it seems,” Aída explained. “I asked students for examples of where they’ve seen interpreters at work (such as interviews with athletes on TV), and I emphasized the importance of interpreters in a war context.”
During the last activity, students had to think of which specialization they would choose if they were translators or interpreters, and they created a badge with this information. “Most kids wanted to be video game localizers and subtitlers, but there were others interested in interpreting, and literary translation as well,” Aída said.
Overall, Aída said it was a gratifying and fun experience. “The kids were enthusiastic during the presentation and asked several questions. That afternoon, some moms called to tell me their kids enjoyed the activities. The teacher said she wanted to become a translator and my son told me his classmates asked him many questions after I left the classroom.”
Aída’s favorite part was the interpreting assignment. “I’m not an interpreter and admire how they think fast, their memory, and communication skills.” One of the students surprised Aída with her natural interpreting skills. “She had a soft, clear, and strong voice, self-confidence, and excellent English pronunciation. Her mom texted me after, saying her daughter wants to be a conference interpreter.”
Inspiration for Participating in School Outreach
When asked what inspired her to give a School Outreach presentation, Aída explained that she thinks fifth graders are at a special age where they have many ideas and dreams about what they want to be when they grow up, but they haven’t been shown that translation and interpreting are real professions. “I wish I could have had this information at that age, and not only from translators, but it would be great if doctors, lawyers, and artists could go to the classrooms to talk to future generations about the pros and cons of their work and the real daily life someone could expect,” she said.
A Language Career that Started with a Volunteer Gig
Aída was born in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, in northwest Mexico, a small city on the Sea of Cortez. She currently lives in Guadalajara. She’s an ATA-certified English>Spanish translator specialized in business, marketing, transcreation, and website localization.
Aída has a bachelor’s degree in business and finance, an MBA, and a master’s in economic relations and cooperation. She also has a certificate in translation from the University of California, San Diego.
“My first contact with translation was as a volunteer for the United Nations Environmental Program, translating life cycle management content for international conferences,” Aída said. At that time, she was a manager at a restaurant and translation was just a hobby, but she found she loved the work and began translating for more non-governmental organizations. “Then, when I was studying for my second master’s degree, I couldn’t get a full-time job because the condition of my government scholarship stipulated I wasn’t allowed to be employed,” she explained. That’s when Aída started working online as a freelance translator.
Aída now works from the comfort of the new home office she built for herself in 2020 so she could focus better with her children studying at home. When asked what she likes best about being a translator, Aída said she loves to work on a variety of topics every day. “I might get tired, but I never get bored.”
She also enjoys using her creativity to produce messages that engage people and allow them to understand vital information. “I also love the community that we translators have. I feel supported by colleagues who have become friends and who are always there when I need advice or help. I love that translation can be part of my life, a passion, and not just a job. And of course, I’m grateful I have the freedom of working from anywhere, setting my own schedule and being my boss.”
Aída said she was thrilled to have received free registration for winning the School Outreach Contest. “For me, ATA’s Annual Conference is ‘the event’ of the year. By the end of any conference, I’m already planning for next year. Giving a School Outreach presentation gave me the chance to interact with the kids, show them what a professional translator does, and also allowed me to attend ATA’s 63rd Annual Conference in Los Angeles for free! What else could I ask for?”
Getting Involved in the School Outreach Effort
Join our efforts! The 2023 School Outreach Contest is now open and the winner will receive a free registration to ATA’s 64th Annual Conference in Miami, Florida (October 25-28). Contest submissions are accepted for photos and stories from presentations to any age group in any educational setting, anywhere in the world, from pre-school to college to adult education. The contest deadline is July 31, 2023. For more information, visit ATA’s School Outreach page!
Molly Yurick is a Spanish>English subtitler, translator, and consultant to aspiring subtitlers based in northern Spain. Her subtitles can be found on Netflix and she specalizes in tourism and hospitality translation. She serves as deputy chair of ATA’s Public Relations (PR) Committee and is also a member of ATA’s School Outreach Program and PR Writer’s Group. email@example.com