I just came back from the 52nd Annual ATA Conference. This was the fifth in a row I have attended and I return home reenergized, with more great ideas and contacts. It was intense, but spending five days with about 1700 other people, who are all multilingual, was an amazing experience. People came from near and far; I met people that had come all the way from Sweden, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Germany etc. There is so much to talk about and so many people to meet. It is a group where people even get my weird jokes.
Although it is always a wonderful experience, there are people who feel they cannot afford to attend this conference, and sometimes the money just isn’t there. That is understandable, but my experience has been that I have felt that my investment in attending the conference has always paid off within a month. Two days after arriving home I already have new job proposals, proposals for collaboration, presentation proposals and many new friends and contacts. The ATA conference is one of the largest in the world for linguists and the opportunities for continuing education and networking are vast.
I have also heard people say that they do not see the point of becoming Active (as opposed to Associate) Members of ATA. You become an active member of ATA by becoming certified in your language pair or by peer review. As an active member you can vote and have your say in the development and the future of ATA. When I became an active member, no certification into Swedish existed, but the peer review process was easy and inexpensive. I have been a member since 2003 and ATA has given me so much that becoming an active member and participating is a way to give back, to develop as a person and business owner, and to network with colleagues.
That is my two cents in the matter. If I can encourage even one more person to attend the conference, or to become an active member, I am happy.