A Visit to Your Local School Could Take You All the Way to Seattle!

By Amanda Ennis and Lillian Clementi

In schools all over the United States, teachers are actively discouraging their students from studying foreign languages because “there aren’t any jobs besides teaching”- and this at a time when language capabilities are more critical to our national security and economic success than ever before. Some educators are so unfamiliar with our profession that they don’t even know the difference between translation and interpreting.

ATA is already working actively to change that. Along with the flashy press coverage the Public Relations Committee has garnered in its efforts to educate the public about translation and interpreting, there is another equally important side to the campaign – one that hums along quietly, often under the radar and away from the glare of the cameras. In 2003, ATA added a school outreach resource center to its website and began urging individual translators and interpreters to use the ready-made, age-appropriate materials now available online at http://www.atanet.org/ata_school/welcome.htm.

In the ten weeks following its debut, the school outreach page had over 8,000 hits. And in 2004, some 6,000 unique visitors have come to the site. From Surrey, UK to Sacramento, CA, translators and interpreters just like you are educating the next generation of language professionals – and the next generation of clients – in classrooms from grade school to graduate school. ATA is now actively recruiting volunteers to speak at schools in your area and to help coordinate the school outreach effort through a national speakers bureau.

And that’s not all. To encourage you to get your feet wet and see how much fun school outreach can be, ATA has launched a school outreach contest, with free registration for the 2005 ATA Annual Conference in Seattle, Washington, going to the winner. To enter, just have someone take a picture of you making a school outreach presentation at your local school or university and send it to the ATA Public Relations Committee at khendzel@asetquality.com (subject line: School Outreach Contest) or at 225 Reinekers Lane, Suite 590, Alexandria, VA 22314. Please include your name and contact information, the date, the school’s name and location, and a brief description of the class. The best photograph will win free registration to the 2005 Annual Conference in Seattle. The deadline for submissions is July 15, 2005, and the winner will be contacted by August 15, 2005. Any member of ATA or of any ATA-affiliated organization is eligible to enter.

We have made enormous strides, but there’s an enormous amount of work still to be done. It’s high time we got serious about this. The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is right now. Join us.

How To
Preparing and delivering an effective school outreach presentation can take as little as three or four hours, and one presentation a year is plenty.
Speakers bureau coordinators will essentially serve as relay points for requests from headquarters and need to commit only an hour or two per month. If you’re interested in volunteering or would like more information, please contact Lillian Clementi (lillian@lingualegal.com) or Amanda Ennis (germantoenglish@earthlink.net).

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