Spring into Action 2015 – Planting the Seeds of Professional Success for Language Interpreters and Translators April 25 and 26, 2015 – La Salle University By Carlota Dalziel



How best to put words to this experience? A weekend treat, both from the intellectual and social angles. Two days dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge in an atmosphere of great camaraderie and a “je ne sais quoi” difficult to express in writing. The conference was well attended. There were 133 guests. The speakers were impressive and the wide variety of the themes they covered appealed to both interpreters and translators. Food and drinks served were first class and contributed to a feeling of contentment. No wine, alas! The good stuff, though, flowed generously at the dinners on both days. The one offered at Rosa Blanca in Old City on Saturday evening was followed by a guided tour of historic old city graciously given by Donna Jarvela, Conservator and Restorer of the Cultural and Art Heritage. It proved especially informative to the out-of-town folk, as well as to the visiting speakers. The optional evening activities were superbly organized by Armando Ezquerra Hasbun. DVTA Program Chair Maria Weir did a wonderful job at organizing the dinner at Rosa Blanca as well as selecting the menus for all the meals enjoyed throughout the weekend. She was assisted by Program Co-Chair Carlota Dalziel.

Together with ATA’s Spanish Division the DVTA excelled at putting on this outstanding event, to which the Hispanic Institute of La Salle University contributed by providing a great venue, as well as the coffee break refreshments.

It would make for too lengthy an article to detail all the sessions open to the attending public. A few of the speakers, though, are worth mentioning here. James Plunkett, Coordinator of Interpreter Services and of the Language Access Program of the District of Columbia Courts, Matthew Schlecht, scientific medical translator, Armando Ezquerra Hasbun, certified by the Federal Courts, NAJIT and by ATA in the English › Spanish language pair, Anthony Rivas, core faculty at the University of Arizona’s Agnese Haury Institute and Antonio Martin from Spain, a Spanish Philology specialist from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Other outstanding presenters were Heidi Cazes Sevilla, Leticia Molinero, Izaskun Orkwis, Gabriela Jenicek, Doborah Saldaña, Renee Wulf, Rudy Tellez, Georganne Weller, Virginia Valencia, Rudy Heller and Marian Greenfield (former ATA President from 2005 to 2007). DVTA President, Antonio Guerra, also gave an informative presentation on The Power of Collective Engagement. Intensive skill-building workshops were also offered to both translators and interpreters. One of particular interest given by Armando Ezquerra Hasbun was titled “The Subtle Art of Transcreation.” This author found it inspiring and thought-provoking, being a subject rarely touched upon in similar seminars. Transcreation is a term used chiefly by advertising and marketing professionals to refer to the process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone and context. As a working interpreter, this author was keenly interested in the workshop, where successful interpretation was defined as the art of accurately conveying meaning and “evoking the same emotions and carrying the same implications in the target language as it does in the source language.”


Another story that merits a special mention was one brought up by Anne Connor, DVTA secretary and former president. It happened at one of the final sessions on Sunday with the Panel of Experts on Translation -which ran right into the Translation Roundtable. Giovanna Lester was moderating a panel formed by Kirk Anderson, Marian Greenfield, Antonio Martin, Anthony Rivas and Anne Connor. I quote Anne: “When an audience member asked a question about proofreading/editing one’s own work, Antonio Martin preferred to answer in Spanish. Gio then asked if there were any non-Spanish speakers in the room. Three interpreters from the School District of Philadelphia (two Khmer and one Mandarin) raised their hands. At that, Rudy Heller hopped out of his chair in the front row and crouched behind the three interpreters, simultaneously and flawlessly interpreting every word that came out of Antonio Martin’s mouth, as well as a follow-up comment from another audience member who preferred to tell her story in Spanish because of the poorly translated Spanish words she’d seen at a doctor’s office. It really summed up the spirit of the whole weekend!” End of quote.

Armando Ezquerra Hasbun ably chaired Spring into Action, assisted by the DVTA board and Francesca Samuel, head of ATA’s SPA. A very effective team indeed. Comments on the seminar have been pouring in. Here are a few:

“You deserve a standing ovation for the amazing conference” (Sylvia Castellanos). “I finally learned how I can actually practice to improve my skills, rather than just have all the material thrown at me and then just be told, go home and practice.” (Christina Verduin). “Tony, Armando, Anne, Maria and Carlota went over, above and beyond what was expected of them, in making things work so smoothly … What an experience! A success at all levels: the welcome, details, preparation, selection of speakers, attendees, location… weather too!”(Gio Lester). “I had a great time; made new acquaintances, renewed old ones, and learned more about the interpreter business than I have been able to glean in all my previous years. I also appreciated the chocolate and cookies in the goodie bag that I was given after the sessions on Saturday! Someone knows about my sweet tooth!” (Matthew Schlecht). Each speaker at the seminar received a goodie bag.

IMG_2870 (1)

On Sunday afternoon before the roundtable sessions, and outside in the pleasant sunny weather, a musical group spontaneously came together and delighted attendees with an impromptu concert. Many in the audience joined in the singing with gusto. DVTA member and First Judicial District of Philadelphia staff interpreter, Javi Aguilar, had brought his guitar and other musical instruments. Once he got started it didn’t take long before people were singing and dancing along with him! James Plunkett from the Washington, D.C. courts joined in and played on Javi’s guitar with great enthusiasm. Javi also played wooden flutes while a few from the public provided the percussion, using Javi’s Costa Rican shells to great effect. This joyous display of talent will no doubt be fondly remembered by performers and audience alike.

The last Sunday event was held at Olney 100. A round table with a panel of experts had been invited by DVTA for the occasion. The panel members were James Plunkett, from the DC Superior Courts, The Honorable Ida K. Chen, from the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania (a frequent guest at DVTA events), and Mr.Osvaldo Aviles, from the Administrative Office of the Courts of PA. It turned out to be a very lively and informative session, with a brisk exchange of questions and answers on the latest issues in the field of interpretation. Judge Chen’s lively contribution was inspiring, best expressed in the words of Tony Guerra, DVTA’s president “Thank you for lending your phenomenal presence, wit and wisdom to contribute to the success of our event. It was encouraging and thrilling to have experienced so many individuals gathered with the common goal of quality, skill and ethics in language access and so fitting to have you and Osvaldo in our midst.”

A delicious dinner on Sunday night at Tierra Colombiana brought to a close an unforgettable seminar. There was definitely a “je ne sais quoi” to this event, and I don’t mind repeating myself! Thank you DVTA! Thank you ATA SPD! Thank you La Salle Hispanic Institute! The successful outcome was the earned reward. An appreciated parting touch was a free headshot offered to all attendees by the team of professional photographers in charge of photographing the group at closing on Sunday. All good things come to an end…

ATA Conference – San Diego – October 14-27, 2012 – Comments by Carlota Dalziel

My travel started on United Nations Day, October 24, a fitting day, I mused, for an interpreter to make the six-hour journey from Philadelphia to San Diego for the ATA’s 53rd Annual. I could have done without that 4 am early start, though. On the first of the two flights I was jolted out of my sleepy stupor when I heard a resolute “Carlota”! And, behold! there was colleague Tony Guerra greeting me from the distance. Sharing lunch with him later in the Phoenix connection was a welcome break in the long trip. Upon arrival in San Diego we were welcomed by deliciously balmy weather, and were soon checking in at our hotel after a short taxi ride.

The Hilton San Diego Bayfront was a beehive of activity, with a fair number of well known faces and plenty of new ones. There was excitement and expectation in the air, with over 1.800 attendees estimated to arrive for the event. Registration was brisk and efficient. The program of activities and sessions was mind boggling.  There were speakers from all over the world and the conference schedule offered sessions on every conceivable subject related to interpretation and translation. There was no way I could do it all. This I remedied by ordering the DVD-ROM on the full proceedings that the ATA put out.

The Welcome Reception was held at the Promenade Patio where the tables were set out on the lawn under a canopy of stars. The food selection was excellent and varied. Pasta and taco tables were two of the many choices. Attendees were also served tasty hors d’oeuvres and a well stocked bar effectively encouraged socializing. It cannot be denied that food is an all-important part of any event of this kind, and that laid out by the ATA at this conference was of superb quality, indeed. Everyone enjoyed the generous continental breakfast each morning. At the Spanish Division Open House, held at the Sapphire Ballroom of the hotel immediately after the opening reception, delectable desserts were offered to all members. Here I got a chance to reconnect with friends and acquaintances from past conferences and to meet a number of new people as well.

Interpreting Trauma is one of the sessions I found most sobering and informative. The speaker, Christiane Abel, addressed her audience with an account of her experience as an interpreter for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, ICTR. It was fascinating to learn how she coped with the deeply disturbing testimonies heard from survivors of the horrific genocide. We heard of the need to focus the mind and shut out emotion, and of how, surprisingly, the interpreter can after some time function purely technically and render a good interpretation. At the end of the session a couple of attendees in the audience who had interpreted in comparable situations shared their experiences.

A session which specially caught my interest was Consecutive 2.0 – New Technology for an Old Technique or “An Introduction to Sim-Consec” by Franz Poechkacker. The session reviewed technology-assisted interpreting and dedicated some time to the digital pen, a device that can be used either as an ordinary pen for taking notes during consecutive interpretation, or as a recorder that  allows the user to record, listen and interpret without depending on note taking. I found it a novel idea that might take some getting used to but could be extremely helpful. One does wonder, though, how protected confidentiality can be if an interpreter can walk away after an interpreting assignment keeping the information on his “pen”. This could become an issue in some settings. From what I understand there is no official restriction in any court.  Portability and precision are two of the advantages of the digital pen.

The day time sessions were followed by evening events. I attended a lively dinner organized by the Spanish Division at a San Diego restaurant.

On another evening the Interpreters Division had their celebratory dinner at the Sevilla Tapas Bar.  A DVTA board member, Maria Weir, was largely responsible for organizing the event , although she was unfortunately unable to attend. On that same evening I was invited to an event hosted by CETRA at the hotel. I went with Anne Connor, another DVTA Board member. Trying to avoid burning the candle at both ends, my intention was to stay just for a short while. However, the success of the event and the animated conversation with colleagues kept me up later than ever.

Two of the sessions I will not easily forget. The first was Gangs and Guns. Julie Rexwinkel gave us a very comprehensive and graphic description of the meanings of tattoos on prison inmates as well as information regarding gangs, segregation, guns and other weapons that are commonly used in state prisons systems. The second, Interpreting Slang and Taboo Language for the Courts, was certainly an eye-opener that gave me more terminology than I bargained for. Speaker Alfonso Villaseñor’s colorful vocabulary, and his expressive delivery, surely beats that of an English sailor! I am tempted now to look for opportunities to use some of it myself.

The Book Launch Celebration of Found in Translation, by Nataly Kelly, highlighted the importance of translation and interpretation in our world today and its impact on the every day life of those who practice it.

Understandably, super storm Sandy became a matter of some concern to many at the conference. As of day two the weather channel was frequently checked and calls made home to discuss the advisability of an earlier return home, under the likelihood of flights being canceled.

This 53rd ATA conference will possibly be remembered by many as the “Sandy Conference”, especially by those of us who returned home to power outages and flooding. However, the hurricane did not dim the success of an extraordinary program. Benefits from the many activities and information sessions were reaped by all. The exhibits were outstanding too, and I am now the happy owner of West’s latest legal dictionary and of Witness, the selected poems of Mario Benedetti, in its dual Spanish-English version. The poems were translated into English by Louise B. Popkin. Having the two languages side by side makes this book a stupendous way to appreciate how one adapts to the other and to quickly pick up colloquial expressions.

I look forward to San Antonio next year and sincerely hope that no weather event will interfere in our plans to stay an extra day or two and enjoy this lovely city.


Court Interpreter Shadowing Program – An up-date by Carlota Dalziel

The much anticipated eight- month Court Interpreter Shadowing Program got off to a successful start the first week of March. The first of its kind in PA, this program, which we owe to Judge Ida Chen from the First Judiciary District of PA and her team, provides support to interpreters who are preparing to take the PA certification exam. Chosen candidate interpreters shadow the FJD staff interpreters once a month and rotate throughout the Criminal, Family, Municipal, and other courts, while also attending seminars on court interpreting. The speakers for the monthly seminars are selected by Judge Chen and her team.

DVTA is playing a leadership role in collaborating with the First Judicial District to help its members to obtain opportunities in their profession. Two of its members were selected to participate in this pilot program:  Eassa Faheem (Arabic) and Jola Bronstein (Polish). The first, recently provided the following feed back: “…It went very well last week. We were six interpreters (and candidate interpreters) divided into two groups. Jola, Michelle and I followed Letitia Nixon, professional Spanish <> English interpreter in CJC, and the other three followed Javier Aguilar, Professional Spanish <> English Interpreter for the Family Court. I personally gained a sense of the interpreting process in the court, and realized what a lot there is to be learned. We all met with Judge Chen (very nice personality), Janet Fasy (Deputy Court Administrator) and Doseann DiPrimio (Interpreter Coordinator), who were the speakers in our meeting. It was a very positive experience and I am excited and looking forward to continuing.”

DVTA has embraced Judge Chen’s initiative with enthusiasm. We are aware of the considerable number of interpreters, including those who have already become certified, who enter the field of interpreting with no courtroom experience whatsoever.  An interpreter’s training should ideally include sessions where the student interpreter shadows experienced interpreters, thus complementing what theory teaches them. Clearly, a number of hours spent in courtrooms, experiencing the proceedings and mentally translating all that is being said, contributes greatly to enable an effective performance, with fewer pit-falls and avoidable errors. Most certification candidates do not go through this preparation and are likely to fail the exam. Nerves can betray even a well prepared candidate. It is our belief that this new endeavor, the Court Interpreter Shadowing Program, will go a long way towards providing candidates with the necessary experience and peace of mind to sit for the certification exam with a better chance of success. We feel that this program will effectively fill the experience gap in new interpreters, and we hope that it will eventually include training for student interpreters in all the languages that offer certification.

DVTA Patent Seminar and Social Networking Event, by Carlota Dalziel


The November 12 DVTA seminar and annual meeting held at the Best Western Hotel in Philadelphia was both sucessful and well attended. The morning was informative presentation on the subject of patents, and the afternoon got fired up on the subject of health! Stephanie Cash gave us an excellent hour-long presentation on ” Subversive Activities for Linguists: A different approach to exercise” that really got us thinking -and worrying- about our sedentary life as translators, sitting at our computers all day, or as interpreters, crashing at the end of a long day, with any form of exercise as the last thing on our minds. Stephanie challenged us: “How about another approach? What matters most of all: getting up off of your big fat chair!” (Mea culpa!!) Stephanie encouraged us to become more health conscious, while at the same time having fun! A variety of different activities were suggested. These included walking, old-fashioned calisthenics, running, swimming, different forms of dancing (including ballet for adults: never too late!), to name a few. Stephanie also included information on websites to check on availability of these activities in our area.There is a five page not-to-be-missed hand-out on the subject of how to achieve and keep vitality! Anne was our superb model for some of the recommended exercises, standing on a chair -most gracefully, I must say- in order to ensure visibility to our captive and enthralled audience, who joined in the fun as willing participants in the demonstration.

Anne Connor called the business meeting to order at 2.15 pm. All present were able to admire the DVTA’s eye-catching new website on the screen. A couple of our most recent activities were commented on such as our attendance at the Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness meeting at the Bar Association in Philadelphia on September 15. Board members Anne Connor, Carlota Dalziel, Gabriela Jenicek, Maria Weir and Tony Guerra were present, as well as DVTA member Suzana Volquarts. One very interesting endeavor on the part of this commission is the formation of an Interpreter Services Committee that plans to expand interpreter services by improving the availability of interpreter and translation services in the Commonwealth’s courts and administrative agencies. The committee is also considering ways to assist the AOPC in training judicial personnel on Act 172 interpreter-services regulations passed in 2010. Anne also informed the audience of the board meeting held via Skype on September 26. Gabriela Jenicek was appointed to replace Caudia Krusch on the board. Tony Guerra agreed to replace Anne Connor as President after the meeting and Anne agreed to replace Tony as DVTA secretary. Our first Skype Board Meeting proved to be a very practical tool. Next, we had the reports by committee members, after which Anne invited the attendees to make suggestions that might lead to expanding the DVTA’s area of influence. Arnold Winter suggested putting together a panel of 4/5 people to come up with a “canned” presentation or script, similar to ATA’s Client Outreach Program, that could be offered to people who put on programs in the area, such as the Philadelphia Bar Institute, Local Chamber of Commerce, International Chamber of Commerce and others. Another member suggested advertising in business publications. Linda Pollack-Johnson suggested reaching out to a Doula organization since they often need medical interpreters.

The ATA Save-the-Date flyer on the mid-year conference for the interpreters and Spanish language division to be held in Orlando March 16-18, 2012, was handed out by Anne. All the attendees who had been there for the whole day left with 4 CE Points. The day also offered an excellent opportunity for networking, which I noticed was taken advantage by many. It turned out to be a very satisfactory event, with Anne at the helm of an excellent team.

Carlota Dalziel                                                                                                                           Federally Certified Spanish Court Interpreter and DVTA Board Member


Information from the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Fairness on Interpreter Services

Several DVTA Board members including Anne Connor, Maria Weir, Carlota Dalziel, Antonio Guerra and Gabriela Jenicek represented the association during the Quarterly Meeting of the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Fairness and were able to introduce the DVTA and to establish valuable connections. During this meeting, the annual report for the years 2010 and 2011 was presented which included the achievements and plans of the Interpreter Services Committee which are interesting facts for our profession.

From the Annual Report 2010-2011 of The Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Fairness – Interpreter Services Committee:

Expanding Interpreter Services

The basic fairness of the Pennsylvania court system is jeopardized if litigants with limited English proficiency do not have access to competent interpreters and other language assistance.

The Commission continues its work to improve the availability of interpreter and translation services in the Commonwealth’s courts and administrative agencies. Among last year’s initiatives, the Commission co-sponsored training for Haitian Creole interpreters with Widener University’s Legal Education Institute and the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania. In September of this year, the Commission supported a similar program for interpreters working in the Vietnamese language. Both followed the 2010 training for professionals interested in becoming certified in the Pennsylvania courts.

Also during 2010, the Interpreter Services Committee arranged for the translation of key court documents in five languages, including Vietnamese, Kmer, Russian, Spanish, and Chinese. The documents are now available on the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) website for easy access by judicial districts [great resource for court interpreters!].

Next up? The committee is considering ways to assist the AOPC in training judicial district personnel on Act 172 interpreter-services regulations passed in 2010.

Members are also working with the Philadelphia Bar Association to assist its Language Access Task Force and are planning ongoing training for attorneys on effective use of interpreter services during litigation. The 2011 session will follow up on initial workshop for members of the Bar Association’s Family Law Section, The Philadelphia Story: The Language of Justice in Family Court.”

For more information on the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Fairness, please go to: www.pa-interbranchcommission.com