Disrupted and diversified
As the sun set over the Brisbane River on Saturday August 5, the XXI FIT World Congress on Disruption and Diversification drew to a close. Not only did it mark the end of FIT week downunder, it also celebrated a more visible, more inclusive, more global and dynamic FIT.
The week began with the final meeting of Council, where it shared thoughts and discussion with observers present on a strategic direction for the future that will build on the successes of this mandate.
Then over 50 FIT Member associations gathered for two days, scrutinising the activities of the 2014-17 period, as well as setting the agenda of this ever expanding Federation for the next three years.
The Statutory Congress was asked to make many difficult decisions on matters of representation, bylaws interpretation and of course the formation of the 2017-20 Council and the hosting association for the XXII FIT World Congress in 2020.
Visibility, expansion and outreach have been the key words defining the 2014-17 mandate. The Statutory Congress not only ratified admission of the largest number of new members and associates, but also duly ratified Memoranda of Understanding with World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), PEN International and CEATL (European Council of Literary Translators’ Associations). The delegates debated over many important amendments to the Bylaws and Rules of Procedure, endorsed nearly all of the Council sponsored motions and finally thanked the Council for its leadership and achievement, the pinnacle of which is official United Nations and now UNESCO recognition of International Translation Day (ITD). Finally, the Federation thanked then Vice-President Kevin Quirk, Secretary General Alison Rodriguez and Executive Secretary Daniel Mueller for everything they have done, on the ground and virtually, in the lead up to and during the Statutory Congress. Without them, the Statutory Congress really would have to have been postponed or even abandoned.
Three days of multiple parallel sessions of lectures, seminars, workshops and panels followed a literally incendiary aboriginal welcome from one of the local tour operators and the keynote addresses by the NT Aboriginal Interpreter Service and Professor Anthony Pym now of Melbourne University both highlighting the need for a more diverse Code of Ethics and Practice.
The XXI World Congress was historical in many ways. Celebrating the collaboration with World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI), delegates were part of the first signed keynote in FT’s 60+ year history, delivered by none more suitable than Prof Jemina Napier of Heriot-Watt University, a leading academic bringing sign and spoken language research closer together.
Delegates of the XXI FIT World Congress also witnessed the first remote keynote delivered by Dr Jost Zetzsche aka @Jeromobot – leading commentator on all matters technological. It is therefore all the more poignant that he emphasised the central role of human contact and communications; and the most topical keynote address from hugely influential social media commentator Dr Sarah Kendzior emphasising caution to automation and reliance on digital media in this disrupted and dystopian era.
In the time honoured FIT tradition, FIT celebrated the best of our profession with an almost full house at the FIT Awards Ceremony; whilst breaking the tradition, friends of FIT were invited to be part of the In-and-Out Dinner at the stunning surprise venue, the Queensland Art Gallery.
Finally, Prof Michael Cronin of Dublin City University invited delegates to scrutinise our practice and to work towards a genuinely sustainable profession, echoing the opening address in which outgoing FIT President Henry Liu, now a FIT Honorary Advisor counselled all delegates against discretising approach of digitalisation and for vigilance against false disruption. Taking the stage, 14th President Kevin Quirk dazzled delegates with a FIT poem and thanked our host for their hard work, including the disruption, welcoming everyone to join the next stop on the FIT World Congress journey, the XXII World Congress in Cuba in 2020!
FIT would like to take this opportunity to thank our hosts, the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT), for making the XXI FIT World Congress possible.