in focus

The spotlight will shine on Members throughout the's the first one to stand on the stage...
Mr. Feng Chen is a senior in-house interpreter of the United Nations headquartered in New York. An early graduate of the two-year UN Interpreters/Translators Training Course, he belongs to the first generation of Chinese-language simultaneous interpreters professionally trained in a graduate program. In his 34-year career in diplomacy, interpretation and translation, first in the Foreign Ministry of China and later, for over nearly 27 years, in the UN, he has worked at close to 10,000 meetings and events. Among his clients are heads of state/government and ministers of nearly 200 countries, including four U.S. presidents, ten UK prime ministers and numerous Chinese leaders such as Jiang Zemin and Deng Xiaoping. Such is a nature of UN meetings that he has been exposed to a full spectrum of subjects and personages of a myriad of academic, professional and business circles. As a veteran Chinese-English conference interpreter, he has been invited to lecture/teach at many universities/colleges, sometimes as a guest/visiting professor. He has published about a dozen translation works on many subjects, from art and history to poetry and lyrics.
Mr. Chen was invited to give a two-hour presentation on UN interpretation at the 57th ATA Annual Conference, 2016. In an over-filled room with some of the audience having to stand or sit on the floor, he traced the origin of SI to a century ago and its rapid development in the wake of WWII, particularly during the Nuremburg Trials and soon after the founding of the United Nations. He then went on to describe the pressing demands and exacting standards for UN interpreters in terms of extensive subject coverage, speed of delivery, accurate and timely relay among six official languages, political and cultural sensitivity and follow-up on current events, among others. the essential qualities required of a top-notch interpreter, the training process, and the opportunities available (including those for translators) in all working languages of the organization. He also shared some interesting anecdotes which shed light on the inner workings of the SI profession on the biggest world stage.
In the second part, Mr. Feng Chen described the training to meet those requirements, universities that offered such a program and the UN Outreach Programme that was specially designed to help those universities. While focusing on the training process and the opportunities available (including those for translators), Mr. Chen introduced some useful UN websites for Live Web TV, videos and vertatim meeting records as sources for training, for recruitment exam/internship announcements and for job postings as well as ways to prepare for the UN interpreter/translator exams. He also addressed some of the questions both at the meeting and afterwards.  


ATA CLD Guest Speaker at the 57th ATA Annual Conference in San Francisco