Giovanna Lester Wins 2019–2020 ATA School Outreach Contest

ATA member and active volunteer Giovanna Lester, a conference interpreter and an ATA-certified Portuguese>English translator based in Miami, Florida, won a free registration to ATA’s 61st Annual Conference through ATA’s 2019–2020 School Outreach Contest.

Giovanna won the contest for her virtual presentation to students from Farmington R7 School in Missouri. She spoke to the 22 students aged 8 to 14 through the school’s language and culture program.

A passionate veteran of ATA’s School Outreach Program, Giovanna has a long history of presenting at her daughter’s schools over the years. Since her daughter is older now, the opportunity to present at these schools doesn’t arise as often. After schools closed in South Florida and elsewhere due to the pandemic, Giovanna happened to see that School Outreach Program Coordinator and ATA Director Meghan Konkol was looking for a virtual presenter for an opportunity with Farmington R7 School. She immediately volunteered.

Giovanna learned more details about the language and culture program at Farmington R7 and coordinated with teacher Jennifer Aholt for a Zoom presentation in June. She worked
closely with Aholt to ensure that the students, their parents, and the class chaperones remained focused and could interact with her discussions on foreign languages and cultures expressed through music, clothing, food, literature, and technology. Giovanna enjoyed the active participation of the students, and even noted the involvement of some enthusiastic parents.

This was Giovanna’s first virtual School Outreach presentation. Asked about the advantages of virtual versus in-person presentations, she says she values “being able to reach a public I would not otherwise have reached” and “taking the knowledge of these two professions to communities where they are not even offered as such.”

What Is ATA’s School Outreach Program?

For 16 years, ATA’s School Outreach Program has been raising awareness of the role that translators and interpreters play in business, government, and society at large. With several sources predicting major growth in the demand for professional translators and interpreters, this program continues to build awareness of careers in the language industry. As our world becomes more integrated globally, businesses and governments are realizing the importance of using skilled professional translators and interpreters to communicate their message effectively and successfully to global audiences, avoiding potentially costly and embarrassing mistakes.

ATA launched the School Outreach Program in 2004 to educate students about translation and interpreting and to interest them in these rewarding career fields. Through the program, professional linguists speak to students at all levels, highlighting the career benefits of learning another language and the increasing potential for exciting work with language skills. Using a variety of model presentations and activities available on ATA’s website, presenters outline the requirements for becoming a professional translator or interpreter, emphasizing that these careers demand far more than simply being bilingual.

“By participating in the School Outreach Program, translators and interpreters share valuable information not only with the next generation of linguists, but also the next generation of language services clients,” says Meghan Konkol. “Our program focuses on educating the public about these exciting career paths and their wide range of applications around the world.”

To receive this award, participants must belong to ATA or an ATA chapter or an ATA-affiliated organization and must deliver a presentation for a school of their choice. To learn more about ATA’s School Outreach Program, visit

Win a Free Registration to ATA62—2020–2021 School Outreach Contest Now Open!

The 2020–2021 School Outreach Contest is now open! Virtual presentations are eligible for entry into the School Outreach Contest. The winner will receive a free registration to ATA’s 62nd Annual Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota (October 27–30, 2021). For more information, visit

Birgit Vosseler-Brehmer, CT is an ATA-certified English<>German freelance translator based in Germany. She specializes in technical, business management, and document translations. She is a member of ATA’s School Outreach team. Contact:

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