Why be a buddy?

By Helen Ebybuddies

At my first ATA conference, back in Denver, I felt overwhelmed by the newness of it all. My roommate, however, acted as a buddy. She was great!  I met her through the Roommate Finder, so she was a total stranger. We didn’t share a language, a specialty, or anything of that nature. Just a desire to have a quiet room.

It’s easier for me to overcome my shyness when I have a task.  The Spanish Division was looking for volunteers to count ballots, and I signed up. I met a few people right away, the first day.

Our buddies/newbies sessions are going to be quite interactive so we can share some practical things with newcomers and help them feel more comfortable at the Conference. As buddies participate in the interaction, they will gain new insight.

Frequent questions:

Isn’t there a mentor program already?

Being a buddy is a short-term commitment, just for the conference. It is not a mentorship program. The mentor program matches people up carefully, and the duration is one year. We match people randomly as available, and the commitment is just for the conference.

Aren’t you asking for too much from these pairs? You have to be flexible, you know…

Though there are several activities we think would benefit newbies and buddies, each pair can decide what fits them best. There are no requirements. Only suggestions.

Doesn’t Jill Sommer already have an orientation for first time attendees? And they already have ribbons…

Yes! Jill and Corinne have a session on Thursday at 11:30, and we will encourage people to go to that session as well. We are working as a team, and both of them are on our buddies list and on the listserv! By offering several alternatives, newcomers can be supported in whatever way works best for them.

We have asked buddies what they expect from the program. They have said:

  • To help newbies to get the most out of the ATA Conference–so they might want to contribute more to the ATA in future.
  • To share knowledge with newcomers.
  • Already a mentor, so this is an extension…
  • To help a newbie learn the ropes and feel welcome at the conference.
  • An opportunity to help someone.
  • Encourage newbies to become more involved than just receiving The Chronicle.
  • Help make newcomers welcome in ATA and assist them in having a great first conference.
  • To be helpful to a future colleague.
  • It will be fun to meet someone new and to share experiences/introduce this person to colleagues and to get new ideas from someone new to the conference or profession. There is always something to learn on both sides of the equation!

So, please join us! Registration is recommended, but is not mandatory. Walk-ins are definitely welcome at any of the sessions. However, registration will help us know what to expect. Just click on “Sign up” and we’ll take it from there! http://www.atanet.org/conf/2013/newbies.htm

If you’d like to help newbies with their questions before and immediately after the conference, please join this listserv: http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/atanewbies54/info

About heleneby

Helen Eby grew up in Argentina, the land of the gauchos. She is certified as an English Spanish translator by ATA and as a Spanish interpreter by the Oregon Judicial Department and by the Oregon Health Authority. She co-founded The Savvy Newcomer and the ¡Al rescate del español! blogs, both of which are team efforts to provide resources for other language professionals. She is also a founding board member of the Spanish Editors Association.

4 thoughts on “Why be a buddy?

  1. You are right, Helen. Having a buddy makes a huge difference. When I attended my first ATA conference, I was already a member of an ATA Chapter, which made it easy: we came as an unofficial delegation. Some in my group were veterans and they took me under their arms, introduced me to other ATA members, even the Board.

    I have had the pleasure of serving as a buddy every year I have been able to attend the conference. I gives me a lot of pleasure to be ale to pass forward the kindness, respect and professionalism that I received that first time.

    It’s worth it!

  2. Giovanna,

    Thank you for your post; it is encouraging to hear that you have enjoyed being an informal buddy each year. It’s great to know that the benefits of this event are not only for the newbies, but the buddies get something out of it, too!


  3. Cannot wait for this — what a great idea. I am delighted to be a buddy. I remember how intimidating it was for me (many moons ago), when I walked into my first-ever ATA conference. Thanks for all you do, Helen and Jamie!

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