Kia ora, my dear colleagues. It’s Agustina here, secretary of the Auckland branch. Today, I’ll be updating you on a new initiative that we’ve been trialling in Tāmaki Makaurau: the Coffee & Chat meetings.
When I first joined the committee last year, we spoke about bringing NZSTI closer to its members. In that spirit, we decided to organise some very informal meetings with no fixed purpose other than just mingling. As most of you will know, Auckland in particular was hit by the Covid-19 isolation rules which made gatherings feel like a luxury. Even though Covid is certainly not a thing of the past, our brilliant branch president, Hannah—with the help of some family tech wizards—mapped all Auckland members so we could figure out which areas our members live in. Next, different committee members chose cafés near areas with a high concentration of members. To keep it flexible, we decided to do without RSVPs. We also encouraged members to bring along colleagues to help us reach out to the many T&I professionals working in Auckland who are not (yet) members of NZSTI. Finally, a rather crucial decision: to shout everyone a free coffee or some other drink of their preference. If that wasn’t enough to attract our people, nothing would.
Luckily, this story has a happy ending. The first meeting, which took place in Mt Albert, saw translators and interpreters old and new chatting for hours about rates, mates … and NAATI, of course. We even had some students join us, asking questions about future membership. We saw linguists exchanging phone numbers and heard languages from French to Tamil, Thai, Polish and Mandarin.
Only a few weeks later, we held another Coffee & Chat, this time on the North Shore. Once again more people than expected showed up, including a few who were considering joining NZSTI but hadn’t quite gotten around to it. We don’t know if they were drawn by the chats, the coffee, or both, but we had to take over three tables to fit in.
We loved it, so we’re already planning the February ones. Heads up, the next one will be out east. We really want them to be a regular occurrence so as to build a tight community of professionals sharing tools, knowledge and stories. We also want everyone to know who the Auckland branch committee members are and how to contact us. We’ve already seen some positive signs of engagement, so we cannot wait for 2023. We have so many plans! As always, there’s too much to do and never enough time so if you’d like to be involved, get in touch. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or approach us during our Christmas gathering. We’ll see you there!
Photo Credit: Min Zheng (Auckland branch committee member)