Presidential Interviews

Leslie Greer
with Leslie Greer
CIT President
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English Translations

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An Interview with Kellie Stewart ~English Version

LG: Hello, I am Leslie Greer. I would like to introduce someone. Please tell us your name.
KS: My name is Kellie Stewart.
LG: Oh, it is Kellie. At the 2012 CIT Conference, you were the Conference Chairperson. What did you see at the conference that was inspirational? Would you mind telling us about it?
KS: Sure! As the chairperson, it took many months of hard work, about 12 to 18 months in total that went into planning for the conference. When it was finally time for the conference to begin, it felt wonderful to just settle in and enjoy the experience. It was great to see so many people attending the conference, socializing, networking and participating in fantastic workshops. There were numerous learning opportunities and time to catch up with each other. It felt wonderful to recognize that all the hard work paid off and the conference was such a success. I was inspired by what was accomplished!
LG: How did the conference benefit the attendees and what was the purpose of it?
KS: As teachers, our work is in the classroom, teaching ten months out of the year day in and day out. RID conferences focus on our work as interpreters. As teachers, however, our opportunity to continue to learn is equally important. I feel it is important for us to see other educators presenting their practices and research. As a result, I feel re-energized and ready to return to the classroom where, over the next two years, I can apply these new ideas and strategies to see what works well with my students. CIT conferences are always a great opportunity for learning.
LG: I’m trying to remember who the keynote speaker was from the last conference…
KS: We had three speakers.
LG: The keynote speaker. It was Mark…
KS: Right, he was considered a Keynote Speaker but we actually had three “keynote” speakers. The first was Dr. Mark Taylor who spoke about the generational differences between students of today and those of the past. The students of today are very different from back when I was a student. As a result, students today learn very differently than those from my generation. I realized that my learning expectations were different from my current students’ and I needed to figure out how revise my methods to adapt to their generation’s learning needs.
LG: Right.
KS: He was such a funny presenter. He had us all laughing!
LG: How so? Give us an example.
KS: Well one example was in his comparison of past and current generations. During my childhood, children typically spent the whole day playing outside. I remember I would get up in the morning, run out the door and my mother wouldn’t see us until that evening when we would make our way home. Today, children are so focused on technology, like Xbox, iPads and computers.
LG: Yes, they’re always inside!
KS: It’s such a different experience. And now the world isn’t always such a safe place to let your children run off for the whole day by themselves. Or it seems it isn’t safe, it depends on where you live. Generationally, we’ve had different experiences. It’s how we as teachers use this to adapt to our students that inspires them to be motivated learners. That was basically the underlying premise of his presentation.
LG: You had mentioned that there were two other speakers, who were they?
KS: The second was Dr. Melissa Malzkhun and third was Dr. Carolyn Ball.
LG: Thank you. Now lastly, tell us why people should attend the Portland CIT Conference. Give them the punch line.
KS: For the same reasons we discussed before, it’s a great idea for us to come together as teachers and get an academic “booster” shot, so to speak. There are so many learning opportunities that can help prevent us feeling stagnant in the ways in which we teach. Attending the conference is an invigorating way to take home new ideas and apply them in your own classrooms. For example, we were just talking about Dr. Mark Taylor’s presentation at CIT. Well, here at the ASLTA Conference, one presenter incorporated aspects of Dr. Taylor’s presentation at CIT on “Generation NeXt” to teaching ASL. So you can see how teaching methods have changed from the past and can be applied to many different disciplines. Again, the next CIT Conference is a way for you all to recharge your batteries, become inspired to grow and to see how that educational exchange influences future teaching and educators.
LG: Wow thank you so much. See you there in Portland!
KS: Yes! See you there!
LG: Aloha!
Translated by Jeremy Rogers and Leslie C. Greer
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An Interview with Anna Witter-Merithew ~ English Version

LG: Hello, I am excited to interview someone. First of all, my name is Leslie Greer. I want to introduce someone.  Please tell your name
AWM: I am Anna Witter-Merithew. Hello
LG: I have a few questions to ask.  How did you and the co-founder establish the Conference of Interpreter Trainers? Please explain.
AWM: Prior to 1979, between 1977 and 1978, there was a group discussion involving RID, many of whom were interpreting instructors.  RID had taken interest in the expansion of interpreter training programs and how to approve these programs, to figure out whether they were successful or not.  They wanted to discuss their accreditation and also the idea of perhaps establishing a special interest group under RID for interpreter trainers.
LG: Oh I see.
AWM: So, during the RID Conference in Rochester, New York, held in 1977, there was an open dialogue and interpreter trainers began to think that they weren’t sure they wanted to be under the organization, RID.  Their reasoning for this was that to have interpreter trainers under the same organization as interpreter certification was inappropriate.  But the motivation for interpreter trainers to collaborate was there.
LG: Um…
AMW: We wanted teachers and coordinators to come together and share our information, yes!  But how, when and where were yet to be decided.  We had just begun to brainstorm ideas.  In 1978 RID called a meeting, and I was invited to attend.  The participants in the meeting specifically discussed accreditation.  We gathered information from other organizations, including CEASD, which provided accreditation to Deaf schools.  We were looking for an accreditation model to implement.  However, we hadn’t yet set up an organization for interpreter trainers.  Some felt awkward about RID approving interpreter training programs, because they lacked a background in pedagogy.  There was one person there in particular, Becky Carlson, who I had been in contact with.  Becky worked at TVI (Technical Vocational Institute) in St. Paul, Minnesota.  I worked at NTID (National Technology Institute for the Deaf).  We would call one another if we had issues arise at work, for example if there was an issue with a policy procedure I would call and say, “How would you handle this?” and vice versa.  We shared information and resources with each other.  We started discussing that RID meeting and decided we should go ahead.
LG: Yes!
AMW: We decided to write a proposal and set up a conference, first for interpreting instructors and managing organizational meetings.  We asked if the trainers were willing to attend and if so there were certain principles to follow.
LG: Yes.
AMW: So, we agreed we would both talk with our deans.
AMW: Yes, Becky at TVI and myself at NTID.  First I met with Alan Hurwitz, my boss, and he was responsible for support services at NTID.  I was responsible for the interpreter education program.  I showed him the proposal and after reading through it he was in full support.  He thought it was really important for interpreter trainers to gather and discuss their work and suggested a survey to get information from other interpreting programs, to find out where they were located, who was involved in them, how long they had been running, what their curriculum looked like, and students’ entrance requirements.  The surveys gave us a general idea.  But, we did not have the funds.  Alan gave me permission to talk to the president of NTID . . .
LG: William
AWM: Yes, Dr. “Bill” Castle to possibly get funds.  First, I got my boss’s approval and I checked with Becky, to see if she had met with her boss Robert Lauritson, (he ran TVI’s program for Deaf students).  And it seemed as if he supported the idea too.  They looked for funds so I went back to Dr. Castle and told him both TVI and Alan Hurwitz supported the idea and asked what he thought.  He thought it was a great idea and we received funding from both TVI and NTID.  I don’t remember exactly how much but it was about five or six thousand dollars from each, a total of approximately ten to eleven thousand dollars.  The funds were to be used towards inviting presenters, workshop planning, printing costs and surveys.  That was the beginning of the process and we had our first conference in St. Paul, Minnesota at TVI in October of 1979.  Many people came, there were workshops and presenters and I ran an organizational meeting myself.  I asked how many of the participants were interested in volunteering to be on the committee for future research.  They pushed for my involvement, but I was pregnant and I thought it was best to focus on the birth of the baby and after care.  They carried on and that was it.
LG: You were officially established in 1979 in St. Paul?
AMW: At TVI.  I think it was Oct 3rd, 4th and 5th?
LG: You mean the first week of October?
AMW: Yes it has always been in October.
LG: Oh I get it!
AMW: The first conference was in October, because schools had just started and I can’t remember all of the presenters but I do remember Theresa Smith and she emphasized that interpreters must be fluent in ASL and English and what that meant for their curriculum.  I do remember that.  And I remember Bob…
LG:  Bob Hoffman?
AMW: No, Bob Ingrahm.
LG: Oh yes, yes!
AMW: And his wife, Becky presented as well.  And at that conference a hot topic came up because at the time RID was involved with oral certification.  One night we went up to the room and the executive director of RID was discussing oral certification and many of the members were so upset.  How could they decide to set up an oral certification?  The board had gone ahead and decided without the members’ input.  While we do need interpreters skilled in the oral method this was the wrong organization to lead them.  Many deaf had been suffering from the oppressive oral methods of residential schools and now this organization that supported signing also supported oralism and it was a conflict of interest.  But it was still a great conference.  There were approximately one hundred…
LG: It began with one hundred?
AMW: Yes I think it was about one hundred to one hundred-twenty that came to that conference.  And then two years later, NTID hosted the conference.
LG: Yes I remember that.
AMW: Since the last conference the committee had been working on the bylaws, a constitution, the structure of the members and the board etc.  And little by little it was built up from there.
LG: Wow what an important part of history!  Wouldn’t you agree?
AMW: But history just means that we’re getting older and our minds are deteriorating.
LG: You say that, I say the older you get the wiser you are!  Now are there any last positive messages for our members?
AMW:  Oh yes, I think it’s important for us to continue our involvement with CIT for many reasons.  We need to share the lessons we have learned over the years and the new applications that have arisen.  And all of the hard work that was put into developing the CCIE (Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education) Accreditation.  When you look back to the founding of CIT back in 1977 and the discussions we had about accreditation and now it’s a reality.  We need more ITPs involved in the accreditation of CCIE.  And something that has remained true since the beginning is that interpreting instructors cherish one another and the resources and ideas we have to offer, and now we have so many new publications.  It’s important that we continue on that path and continue to grow as we face new technology and new opportunities.  Students of today are changing and we have to meet their needs.  The members of the deaf community are changing as well.  As the deaf community advances in the professional world their interpreting needs have broadened.  We need highly skilled interpreters to work with them.  Also, deaf individuals from other countries are moving here and deaf children with cochlear implants have different communication needs so it is much more complex than it was before.
LG: Yes that is true.
AMW: And there is still so much to learn about what interpreting will look like in the future.  But, I plan to retire so it’s up to you to figure out the interpreting needs for the future, good luck!
LG: Just to let you know, she doesn’t know how to retire she is much too passionate about interpreting education.  Thank you so much
AMW:  People can’t believe I plan to retire but wait, I do have a surprise for all of you.
LG: Oh I look forward to it!
AMW: I love my career so much and I am satisfied with what I have done.  That’s not to say I am leaving the field completely, I will still support it and be involved a little bit, but I won’t be working full time.
LG: Thank you so much.
AMW:  I won’t be retiring tomorrow, but within the next couple of years.
LG: I completely understand how you feel.  Many thanks.
AMW: Are you enjoying your presidency?
LG: Oh yes! Absolutely, I love it.  There are a lot of changes and improvements that you will see more of later.  Look forward to that information. Thank you, goodbye.
AMW: Goodbye.
Translated by Jeremy Rogers and Leslie C. Greer