NAJIT with a Taste of Southern Hospitality

I spent Friday morning with Clifford Fisher, an attorney cum professor who educated us on the ins and outs of Recordings, Translations and Transcriptions. That afternoon I worked Accent Reduction with Juanita Ulloa, an opera singer who interprets in her spare time! We practiced relaxing our muscles and utilizing good posture to make the most of our voices, and we also discussed how the usage of voiced/unvoiced consonants and long and short vowels changes between languages. It is fascinating how our accent tendencies can be reduced to a simple formula; the challenge is in implementing the knowledge…old ingrained tendencies are a powerful thing!

I could go on about the actual workshops themselves—everything from mental health and immigration interpreting to how to determine which interpreter to assign to an indigenous Mayan LEP who doesn’t speak Spanish or English. But in addition to the family law terminology glossaries and the handouts on dealing with vicarious trauma when interpreting for cases involving abuse and torture, I came away from this weekend with a feeling that I belong to something bigger than myself. Bigger than my courthouse and even the state where I live.
This past weekend I joined hundreds of members of our profession for the NAJIT annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia. From the moment I stepped into the hotel I felt at home. The Atlanta Association of Interpreters and Translators hosted a mixer and a salsa night, and the feeling of camaraderie was overwhelming (also, the food was delicious and plentiful!) In addition to my fellow interpreters and translators, representatives from the U.S. Justice Department and Administrative Office of the United States Courts were also in attendance. Our keynote speaker, Judge James Clayton, had us all laughing with his description of the unscrupulous interpreter working for The Godfather! (That interpreter definitely needs to review our Code of Ethics.)Ours is a young and growing profession, and while that comes with its own set of trials and tribulations, we are lucky because our participation in our field and our professional organization easily gives us a voice. We are not one of the many; we belong to the few. With that comes privilege and responsibility. 

“So, I urge my fellow interpreters to join NAJIT if you have not already.”

So, I urge my fellow interpreters to join NAJIT if you have not already. Get involved. Go to the conferences. Participate in the subcommittees. NAJIT unites us interpreters throughout the country, offers chances to improve our skills and supports interpreters everywhere who are struggling to explain their code of ethics to people who demand that they break it. And a special message to my “compatriots”: We in New Jersey are lucky to have been among the first to create uniform standards for language access, interpretation and certification. If you work for a state court in New Jersey, chances are the judges understand basic interpreting protocol. But when they don’t, we have NAJIT’s position papers to back us up. And just a couple of decades ago, standards for language access and interpreters in NJ were practically nonexistent. We have a duty and responsibility to support our colleagues throughout the country who are still struggling to implement standards. The bigger the NAJIT membership, the stronger our united voice.

Please post your conference and NAJIT experiences below, and relive the conference or go see what you missed with the twitter search #NAJIT2015! Finally, once you join NAJIT, start writing for our blog. We always welcome new authors and new ideas, and we would love to have you on board. Send an email to TODAY to and become an author!

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