Day 2: Tools with a Purpose
Friday July 21 2017

Today consisted of two plenary speakers, Wing Butler and Heather Harker. Wing is currently the Director of Sales at GoReact, a company that specializes in improving interpreter education through cloud-based video software. I knew of Wing, through the highly regarded remarks from teachers in my interpreting program, as well as his frequent contribution to the publication of Street Leverage. Plus, like me, he’s a CODA. Heather Harker is currently Chief of Staff in the President’s Office at Gallaudet University. Recently, Heather was director of programs at Third Sector New England (TSNE), which focused on building power, knowledge, and effectiveness of nonprofit organizations and has served as a consultant to RID. Their topics of Discovering the Keys to a Purpose Driven Future; Learning from Organizational Life Cycles and Leadership: Influencing Organizational Change really set the tone that would be the ongoing theme throughout the conference.

I honestly don’t think I would have been receptive as soon as I was, had day one not occurred. Since then, I felt closer to RID than ever before, both figuratively and literally, which helped me value my stake in RID much more. This newfound value opened me up to see the possibilities to influence organizational change to benefit my profession and the lives of Deaf individuals both on a local and national level. Of course, that’s easier said than done and after watching Wing present, I now have the most important tool to make change and that is ‘purpose’. Heather provided the tools to assess organization cycles and how to influence change, by discerning the difference between technical work and adaptive work; problems that are clear in solution and implementation versus problems that require changes in values, beliefs, roles, relationships and approaches to work.

Both are needed and used daily, but figuring out which approach to use and when, is where the magic lies.

The structure of this conference in of itself was essentially both technical and adaptive; the plenary speakers being technical and the small group discussions requiring most of the adaptive work. The dialogue from these small groups brought the most insight to the possibilities of what we can accomplish as a collective on a national level and, most importantly, what we are capable of as individuals on local levels. Going through this process further clarified the connection I have with not only RID, but to the field of interpreting just as much as we all are connected to society.

Oftentimes I find that many of us, myself included, blame outward for the ills we face, when in fact outward is only a mere reflection of ourselves. Considering Wing’s father described his current understanding of RID as C-O-L-D, examining ourselves and our role, and how our role impacts others, is the first step to the adaptive work necessary to create the change we wish to see.