Letter from the President
Every three years AIIC - like any similar association - holds its Assembly, as tradition and regulations dictate, to look back over the past three years and plan for the next three. The Assembly also sees new officers appointed to the Association's governing bodies, elects committees and considers various administrative issues.
Members - after all we each affiliate individually to AIIC - come from around to world to spend a week, to all intents and purposes cut off from the outside world, to consider what the Association will do over the coming three years, in the manner that cooks line up their ingredients before making their broth.
Or you could liken our three yearly meeting to making mayonnaise: the whole is better than the sum of the parts of oil, mustard and egg yolk.
Paradoxically when 400 members (who represent our 2,800 world wide) get together to consider rules and regulations - by its nature pretty arid fare - it is this very analysis and planning that forces us to consider how to interact with others and how to open to the outside world.
Firstly, the opening ceremony introduced us to a frequent user of interpreting services - although not always of the conference variety: Mr Philippe Boyer, President of the French Association of the Deaf, with his excellent interpreter Mrs Nathalie Audap, told us about what deaf people expect and how very dependent they are on the quality of their interpreters if they are to be integrated into the hearing world and gain understanding for their lifestyle and needs. The enthusiasm palpable in the room is just one indication of AIIC's interest in our colleagues who work as sign language interpreters; we will also embark on closer cooperation with them via the recently established Sign Language Network.
Then more paradox: casting its mind back to the visionaries who ran the Association in the past, AIIC looked again at the main principles that underpin what we do (professionalism, quality testing, "be self-effacing and proud of it" in the words of Christopher Thiéry, our new Honorary President). In moving tributes to our founding members, and most especially to our recently departed colleague Wadi Keiser, our living history and a model of commitment and probity, we acknowledged our debt to our predecessors - debt in the sense of what we owe and in the sense of duty: our debt of thanks to those who went before us and our debt to future generations to uphold the same lofty principles. We were privileged to welcome to our debates several founding members with some 55 years of active service to AIIC; we went back to our roots and in so doing drew fresh energy to tackle the issues of today's world.
For example, the Assembly approved a new project covering interpreters in areas of conflict. By taking action we wish to express our human and professional solidarity with interpreters flung headlong into danger with neither a safety net nor proper appreciation for the essential role they play. The consequence: they are made vulnerable to tragic personal consequences.
The Assembly also confirmed the importance it attaches to areas of traditional AIIC activity: interpreter training, which must be tailored to the needs of the modern world (this comes within the remit of the Training Committee) and advice to people who want to become interpreters or who are just setting out on their career (the VEGA group works in this area).
All activity must be accompanied by sustained internal and external communication: this is in fact one of the main decisions the Assembly took for the next three years. We will therefore overhaul our website and work hard to produce content in more languages (plans are afoot to add key content in Chinese) and use more languages in our webzine Communicate! This will involve a considerable cost, but it is money well spent if we are to set an example of equality in diversity.
Our work on opening up to the outside world recently took on solid form as we have just purchased our own premises; they are more functional, more contemporary, more welcoming and more emblematic of who we are. The new office suite will provide our staff with a much better working environment and give us suitable rooms for receiving visitors including - it goes without saying - our own members, who are always welcome to drop by.
To give you an idea of what our secretariat's new home is like, we have posted some photos of the premises taken a few days after the move.
Here is a reminder of the new address:
46, avenue Blanc
Tel: +41-22 908 15 40
Fax +41-22 732 41 51
Taking inspiration from the wisdom of our new Honorary President and Members, we shall face the future with the quiet confidence and pride bequeathed to us by our venerable past.
May I wish you all a peaceful and prosperous 2009.
Many colleagues expressed a desire to see in print Christopher Thiéry's speech to the opening session in Nice. We are pleased to be able to oblige with French and English versions of How it all started.
During that same session, Mr. Hans-Dietrich Genscher was recognised for notable contributions to the profession, especially his advocacy of the right to speak one's own language. He is the first recipient of the AIIC Malintzin Prize.
One of the highlights of the Assembly was an open discussion on interpreters working in conflict areas. Eduardo Kahane examines the subject with a wide-angle lens in Interpreters in War and Conflict Zones; Linda Fitchett summarizes the discussion and introduces what comes next in Interpreters in conflict areas: a new AIIC project.
In free association mode, Phil Smith notes that, "January is the time for renewal, for de-cluttering, de-toxing and eyebrow taming." For more insight consult his diary of a really Nice Assembly.
Sarah Eborall and Ellen Ruth Moerman report on a different meeting - a seminar co-hosted by the AIIC Legal and Court Interpreting Committee and the Interpretation Directorate of the Court of Justice of the European Communities: EU law and legal interpretation/ Droit communautaire et interprétation juridique.
AIIC members work in myriad national and international organisations, and the members of the Staff Interpreters Committee share information on changes and trends in their respective workplaces. Once again we offer our readers their annual Overview of Organisations.
Wrapping up this issue is Language in the News, with comments and links to a score of Internet sites of interest to language professionals.Articles published in Communicate! reflect the views of the author(s) and should not be taken to represent the official position of AIIC.
Le présent article n'engage que les opinions de l'auteur et ne reflète pas nécessairement le point de vue de l'AIIC.