NCTA Around the World

By Steven Goldstein, with database assistance from Brigitte Reich

In our May issue, we looked at where our non-Northern California U.S. members live, and why they retain their ties to NCTA. In this issue, we focus on our international members, and find out from them what it is about our Northern California organization that keeps them connected.

Of NCTA’s nearly 500 individual members, 28 live outside the United States. While this may not seem like a lot, it’s fair to ask why even that relatively small number choose to keep their membership in an organization that is often a continent or an ocean away.

NCTA’s international members live on every continent except Antarctica and Australia; we have 14 members in Europe, seven in North America, four in Asia Pacific, two in South America, and one in Africa. To break it down further, our European members include six colleagues in France, two each in Germany and Italy, and one each in Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Hungary; our North America colleagues number seven in Canada; our Asia Pacific membership includes three individuals in Japan, and one in China; our South American contingent numbers one in Chile and one in Brazil; and our lone African representative lives in Morocco.

A number of our international members report that maintaining their ties to NCTA helped them when they moved away, not only in terms of the work contacts they were able to keep, but also in providing a sense of familiarity as they were navigating new and sometimes uncharted waters in a different country.

Easing transitions

Emmanuelle Cassan, who now resides in France, says that a difficult decision to the leave the Bay Area was made easier by her connection to NCTA. “The Bay really felt like home,” says Emmanuelle. “Professionally, it all had started there and all my clients were in the U.S. It felt as if I had a safety net under me: I could always write to ask something. It was also a way of still being in the Bay Area, somehow.”

Other reasons for maintaining ties range from the practical to the romantic. Masumi Otaka, an English-to-Japanese translator living in France, notes that because of the unusual nature of his language pair in a country where the native language is neither one, his connections to the U.S. market via his membership in NCTA were vital in continuing to provide a source of jobs (and moral support!) that might have been difficult to find otherwise.

This was true also for Lieselotte Schwarzenberg, who—while having lived in the Bay Area in the seventies—joined NCTA only five years ago, from her current residence in Santiago, Chile. “I joined from here because I wanted the contact with American colleagues,” says Lieselotte, “which has been very interesting and worthwhile through the mailing lists. In addition, I was looking for more work and proposed helping association members on projects if they needed it.”

Dr. Ulrike Walter, an NCTA member currently residing in Germany, says that while she does not at present make much use of her membership, she keeps her ties “because I love NCTA, the people, and what the organization stands for. Being connected to my second home, keeping in touch with colleagues via the mailing list … perhaps a workshop or conference will even draw me back to the Bay Area.”

While some of our international members have joined local translation organizations in their new countries, others have not; this despite local market conditions that would seem to make reaching out to local colleagues a beneficial endeavor. In France, says Emmanuelle, “in order to really make a decent profit without work-ing 90 hours per week, we need to either work for the government (be certified for a local court, for example), work with other translators to share a clientele, or move to England, Spain, Poland to pay less taxes!”

Ties that bind 

In Germany, Ulrike reports that “we struggle with the impact from monopolization and globalization like other places, but there also is a tradition here of translators working for direct clients rather than agencies and that provides some counterbalance.” And Lieselotte reports that “the state of the translation industry in Chile is quite developed, and while neither as much nor as specialized as in the U.S., there are signs of progress from year to year.”

In Germany, Ulrike reports that “we struggle with the impact from monopolization and globalization like other places, but there also is a tradition here of translators working for direct clients rather than agencies and that provides some counterbalance.” And Lieselotte reports that “the state of the translation industry in Chile is quite developed, and while neither as much nor as specialized as in the U.S., there are signs of progress from year to year.”Perhaps, in the end, the NCTA connection is strong enough to carry our international members in whatever their current work situations may be. Virtually all members keep in touch with NCTA goings-on via Translorial—either in printed or PDF form—and with each other through the email lists, where members have found helpful hints about their new countries from others who arrived before them.

“Before I left California,” says Emmanuelle, “and just when I got here, I emailed Dee Braig often to ask questions regarding the way things worked out here for her, how she moved her computer, how she got settled … It was nice for me to know that someone I knew (only virtually, though) was there.”

It is nice to know, too, from the standpoint of the organization, that there exists an informal NCTA professional camaraderie that extends outward—often very far outward—from our base here in Northern California. These professional relationships, which are personal, too, sometimes, reflect the very best of who we are as an association. No matter where in the world we are.

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