Chartered Institute
of Linguists

12 years on the committee

By Gabriela Bocanete


Hello, I’m Gabi, one of your longest serving Interpreting Division committee members.  I’ve recently stepped down to make way for others looking to get involved, so we thought it would be interesting to look back over the amazing changes in our Institute over those dozen years.

In 2007 I moved to London from Bogota, Colombia. It was an exciting time, deciding to take the huge step of relocating to the UK.  Daunting as well, of course, as I was leaving behind family, friends, colleagues, clients and the safety of an established career as a freelance linguist. Still, it was time for a change and even though stepping so far out of my comfort zone was a bit scary, I felt the need to do it anyway.

I had one good friend in London at the time, and knew very few other linguists. I knew that becoming a member of the local professional associations would also offer opportunities for socialising. Having been a co-founder of the Asociación Colombiana de Traductores e Intérpretes in Bogotá had been a positive experience.  I had been an active member of its Council and was already used to volunteering for the greater good of the profession.  I had been kept enjoyably busy and engaged on a huge range of projects and tasks - from the initial pre-launch work of establishing internal working rules for the Council, to deciding membership categories and admission procedures, to drafting the Code of Ethics, trying to learn from other professional associations’ best practices and making sure to avoid what we saw as the ‘suboptimal’ modus operandi of others.

When the founding group prepared to launch the association officially, we decided to invite a couple of guest speakers, among whom was the Romanian Ambassador. Having a good relationship with the Romanian Embassy in Bogota and the experience of food for the launch party with special guests, to organising CPD events once the numbers had grown, finding expert guests and hosting them once they came from abroad – you name it, I was there!

My father’s cooking skills were also called upon when we decided that the theme of the launch party would be Romanian culture and so we cooked a few Romanian dishes to celebrate, such as baked aubergine salad and ‘sarmale’ (cabbage rolls filled with minced pork, rice and spices, cooked with smoked bacon and served with golden polenta).

In London, apart from registering with the tax authorities, opening a bank account, finding a local Yoga and Pilates class, starting to find clients and getting on the lists of good agencies, I looked into becoming a member of the two main professional associations: the IOL and the ITI. Eventually I became a member of the two, but the IOL (now CIOL) was my first ‘professional home’ in the UK.

Attending Member’s Day in October 2007 resulted in meeting more colleagues, and joining the Interpreting Division Committee as a co-optee was the logical step for me. I joined a multi-cultural team of colleagues, among who was one of the founders of the Interpreting Division itself.

Among my responsibilities were moderating InterpNet, the online interpreters’ forum, deciding on event topics and guest speakers, and co-hosting the CPD events and networking sessions. My photography skills came in handy to create visual records of the different events and the speaker presentations.

Every summer there is a Planning meeting that I sometimes joined via Skype from other parts of the world; a lot of effort goes into finding suitable speakers at affordable rates, keeping the venue costs down without compromising the quality of the buffet lunch. With the social media becoming increasingly more important, I created the Division’s Facebook page, which currently has over 2200 followers. After we embraced the social media presence - as a must in the 21 century, the rest of the institute groups followed suit, with either Facebook or Twitter accounts.

The Institute’s management has also been renewed in this period, with new people coming on board and a different approach to CPD, more focused on online webinars and courses. During my 12 years as a volunteer on the Committee, the Institute has published a new and updated website, a renewed directory under Find-a-lingust and a blog with interesting articles. The handful of CPD courses gave way to many more short sessions on a wide variety of subjects in series of webinars or one-off sessions, with the advantage of assisting from the comfort of your home or office and cutting out the time spent in transport. Also, the annual CIOL Conference – where I will be presenting a seminar – will be starting in March 2020.

As some Committee members retired or re-located to other countries, younger colleagues have been taking their place and slowly learning to become generous hosts in turn.

If any readers are considering getting more involved, I would wholeheartedly recommend it!  I have made countless new friends and colleagues, learnt new skills, and felt a huge sense of pride and fulfilment from the projects we have achieved together.  My best wishes to you all, and see you at a future event!

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