Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

“All my mothers were born here.”

April 11th, 2007

We were welcomed to the country by a member of an Aboriginal group native to the Parramatta area, the Darug. She shared some of her story, sang a song and then was joined by a cousin she called brother for a duet (guitar and didgeridoo). He finished with a solo called “The Hitchhiker,” leaving us in the cab of a tractor-trailer truck driving into the sunset.
The speakers were all passionate about the need for quality and high standards in community interpreting, as well as the need for adequate funding and training. Sandra Hale, Chair of this Critical Link Congress (which has drawn more than 500 delegates, the largest in history) made a nice parallel between the Critical Link and Parramatta. This is the first time the conference has been held in the southern hemisphere, and Parramatta is where the landmark first reconciliation conference the Darug and European settlers was held in 1805.
Professor John Ingleson provided a stellar local idiom: “teaching my grandmother to suck eggs.” This morning I met Catherine, a New Zealand Sign Language interpreter, who explained the phrase means teaching someone something obvious, that they already well know how to do. Who would have guessed! (By the way, New Zealand Sign Language became an official national language of the country nearly one year ago: historic!)
The keynote given by Stepan Kerkyasharian was informative and compelling, particularly on the themes of quality of interpretation, adequate funding, and concerns of ethics. In particular, he spoke passionately about interpreter neutrality: that we are “not the guardians of the interests of one party or the other.” This is in some contrast to Christopher’s talk yesterday about minority language users desire to know that interpreters are working “on behalf of the community” instead of merely in the service of interpreting.
I was interested that both Australian speakers’ first comments were in honor of the indigenous people of the land. I’ve not experienced such recognition in the US unless at an event of, by, and for American Indians or at certain progressive lesbian events. Neat!
I walked to the Opening Ceremony at The Roxy with (Spanish-English interpreters) Nancy, Carmen, Elizabeth and Ron (the token husband). After snarfing down an orange juice and some canapes, I turned in: an early evening.

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Categories: Critical Link V - Australia, Interpreting
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