At our association’s 30th birthday party on October 11th, more than 60 NCTA members listened in rapt attention to the remarks of Deolinda Adao, as she spoke of the group’s earliest days, and especially of our first president, the late Tom Bauman. BY DEOLINDA ADAO
Thirty years ago, a group of translators decided to get together and organize a chapter of the American Translators Association based in San Francisco. This organization, which became known as the Northern California Translators Association, had as its goals the promotion of the professions of translation and interpretation, and the establishment of a forum for the exchange of information among both translators and potential clients. I am honored to have been part of that small group that took the very first steps towards the founding of the NCTA. Steven Goldstein, who was part of the first class of NCTA, and the first editor of Translorial, has kindly asked me to commemorate the association’s 30th anniversary by recalling its birth, and especially by remembering those who generously donated their energy and talents to the fledgling NCTA.
I must confess, it hardly seems possible that 30 years have passed since a small group of enthusiastic members of the ATA, upon returning from its convention in Kansas City, Missouri, decided that there may be sufficient interest to start a local chapter or partner association that would cover the Northern California area. So under the leadership of Tom Bauman, without whom we would not be celebrating this anniversary, we organized an Interim Board of Directors and filed all the necessary documentation. Once our organization was established, it was time to organize a large meeting and go public.
That presentation meeting, which was held at the Chinatown Holiday Inn (now the Chinatown Hilton) on March 4, 1978, was an overwhelming success. Since that day, which I remember vividly, mostly because it was one of the first times I addressed a large group, all of us have changed and grown, most of all the NCTA. For all of you-all the members of the association during all these years-have turned it into a truly respected and recognized institution, and for that I would like to express my sincere gratitude.
As I briefly mentioned earlier, the fact that the NCTA was born and is still thriving thirty years later is mostly due to the vision, the drive, and the work of one man, my dear friend Tom Bauman. I should tell you that when Steve contacted me earlier this year and asked me to write something about Tom and the early years of the NCTA I was very happy and excited with the prospect. But in reality it proved to be a very difficult request to fulfill, for each time I sat down in front of the computer or dug up the old mementos, I found myself void of thought and filled with emotion. It is not easy to talk about a friend who left before it was time for his departure. Worse yet is being fully aware that you are a better person because he was in your life, and not being sure that in some small way you were able to reciprocate his unselfish friendship. Thus, I am afraid I will not be able to confine myself to telling you about the early times of our Association, or about the struggles we had to overcome, or even about the victories, large and small, that we shared in those early days, for all I can do is offer a long-overdue and heartfelt tribute to a colleague and a dear friend.
I first met Tom when I applied for an in-house translator position at the International Division of Wells Fargo Bank. It was 1975, and I was an insecure and frightened young woman, feeling a little over her head. Although I had no previous translation experience, Tom hired me based on my language skills alone, and proceeded to encourage and push me to reach a level of professionalism that I could never anticipate. He was by far the best supervisor and co-worker I ever had; the most demanding, but also the most giving. His work ethic was so impeccable and he was so completely dedicated to his work that it was impossible to remain unaffected. It was he who taught me about hard work and professionalism, but is was also he who taught me to believe in myself and never settle or allow others to mandate my goals, constrain my potential, or dictate my destiny.
In reality, the objective was absolutely consistent with Tom’s character and giving personality: creating a group that would serve as a vehicle for the recognition of translation as a profession and advocate for the standardization of codes and practices which, when followed by those in the profession would bring them the respect awarded to other professionals. By the time the NCTA was founded, Tom already had the respect of both fellow translators and translation companies that depended on his work as Tom was an outstanding translator and produced very high-quality work under seemingly impossible deadlines. As such, his intent in attaching his name to the association was more than anything else to bring to it the prestige and recognition that he himself enjoyed. For having Tom as the president of the NCTA practically guaranteed its success and assured its reputation as a prestigious organization. Furthermore, through the NCTA Tom was able to share his expertise with many more people and do his part toward the elevation of each member of the Association and of the profession as a whole.
Some say that there are two kinds of people: the givers and the takers. Tom was certainly a giver, and all of us have had the good fortune of being the receivers of at least one of his many gifts, the NCTA. My hope is that seventy years from now, when members gather to celebrate the centennial of the NCTA, someone remembers to thank Tom Bauman for his tireless efforts and dedication to raising the dignity and recognition of our profession. DA