CoLAB Toronto 2018: A Yearly Must-Do

By Beatriz Figueiredo

Ever since moving to Toronto in 2015 I have been looking for opportunities to meet new colleagues and invest in continuing professional development. You can imagine, then, how very disappointed I was when I missed the registration deadline for coLAB last summer – it looked like the perfect opportunity to blend intensive professional practice with some much needed networking. So, when I heard they were having a Winter session in January 2018, I made sure to sign up as soon as registration was open, and I cannot even begin to tell you how amazing it was.

If you are not familiar with the format, coLAB is a week of intensive conference interpreting practice driven by mutual collaboration and peer feedback. Each participant is tasked with preparing a 20-25-minute speech. The rest of the group then takes turns going to the booths to work on their simultaneous interpreting skills, while the others listen attentively and prepare to give feedback.

1 - Beatriz presentation
Our author, Beatriz Figueiredo, delivers a presentation on Brazilian immigration to Canada for her colleagues to interpret.

In addition to simultaneous interpreting, coLAB also features shorter speeches for consecutive practice, and a Reporting Live segment during which a few participants give us a brief rundown of what is going on in their corner of the world and offer unique perspectives on current issues.

2 - participants consec
coLAB participants deeply engaged in consecutive note-taking in the Glendon auditorium.

After a week working with committed, funny, knowledgeable, and awesome colleagues, these are my top three takeaways:

1. Deliberate practice is key

 As interpreters, we all know that practice makes perfect, but this week reminded me once again that it is not enough to just go into a booth and start interpreting. Going into the booth knowing there were well trained ears listening on the other end made me much more aware of the entire process and pushed me to try to deliver the best I could every time. I also looked forward to the feedback sessions that came afterward, because they were always so insightful and rewarding.

3 - happy lab
A happy lab during a coLAB peer feedback session.

2. Challenge yourself

4 - loving peer feedback
coLAB interpreters engaged in some loving peer feedback.

coLAB interpreters engaged in some loving peer feedback.Striving to do a good job in front of your peers is just one piece of the puzzle. This may even sound like we were in a high-pressure environment, but nothing could be further from the truth. All feedback was delivered in a positive manner, and some pieces of advice were truly invaluable. We also had a lot of fun playing around in a safe and welcoming environment, whether it was with relay or our wannabe C languages.

3. Amazing networking

Networking was certainly a big draw for me, and it totally paid off. Our group included Mandarin, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch and Russian interpreters, which made for a very rewarding and diverse experience.

6 - local italian restaurant
Colleagues become friends at a local Italian restaurant.

As the week ended and we went back to work and our daily routines, I really missed turning the mic on to let my feedback person know what my goal was, picking up a headset and setting the channels while I opened the online feedback form, or just watching some of our more experienced Glendon alumni give a masterclass on coping techniques or public speaking skills.

coLAB was such a positive experience for me that I will most definitely add it to my yearly calendar. Come join us for the next session!

7 - we made it
We made it!

The next session of coLAB Toronto will be held August 6-10, 2018 at the Glendon College MCI Lab. Check the coLAB website for further details or go ahead and register to join us!

About the author:

Beatriz Figueiredo started working as a professional translator by combining her linguistic skills and educational background in healthcare. She has worked with a wide range of clients in the public and private sectors, including LSPs, government agencies, universities, law firms and multinational companies. Since training as a conference interpreter in 2013, she has worked at a number of international events in Brazil and in Canada, where she now lives with her family. The biggest challenge in her T&I career was to interpret for scholar David Harvey… in front of an audience of 3,000 people!

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