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METM23: post-conference reflections

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

In October, I attended my second edition of Mediterranean Editors and Translators Meeting. Last year, it took place in San Sebastián, and this time around we met in the Italian town of Mantua. Apart from being an attendee, I also facilitated my very own multilingual workshop on inclusive language.

What’s MET?

As it's put on the MET website, it is a volunteer-run association for editors, translators and other language professionals who have English as a primary working language. Their calendar is full of events, such as peer-led training, networking and an annual conference held in a Mediterranean city.

Because of the name, many often assume – like I did – that the membership is only open to those who live and work in the Mediterranean Sea area, but that’s not the case. I believe this is how the organisation started, but now anyone who satisfies the criteria (works with English, is aged 21 or older, and is interested in what MET has to offer) can join as a member.

Work AND play

A huge factor that pushed me towards attending my first METM in 2022 was that I saw it as a great opportunity to go to a professional event AND spend time in Spain (where I could practise my spoken Spanish). This year, I opted once again to combine the conference with a holiday.

First, I spent five nights in Bergamo with my partner, then I visited an old friend in Milan. After the conference, I met my best friend in Bologna. We also went to Florence and Pisa.

How is METM special?

I’ve not been to a huge number of conferences, but from what I’ve seen, METM is truly like no other.

  • peer-to-peer initiative run entirely by volunteers

  • affordable, so perfect for people on all income levels

  • plenty of fringe events such as thematic dinner tables, guided tours, morning walks

  • quiet spaces, key for neurodivergent attendees and anyone needing a break

That’s just a few reasons why METM is a great conference to go to!

My workshop: gender-inclusivity

Although this was only my second METM, I applied to attend the ‘23 edition as a speaker. I was accepted, so on Thursday, the first workshop day, I facilitated a three-hour session on incorporating gender-inclusive language into our work.

Alicja giving her workshop.
Photo credit: MET/Leonardo Rizzato

The group included a nice language-mix: we had translators who work out- or into Catalan, French, German, Italian, Slovenian, Spanish, as well as English-language editors.

Although I’d done a similar workshop in the past, I’ve updated it and added an exercise that proved to be extremely popular: the attendees had to rewrite a fragment of a fairy tale in a way that wouldn’t reveal at least one character’s gender. It may sound easy but trust me – it wasn’t! The participants did brilliantly, with some going as far as changing the main character’s name to be more gender-neutral or erasing gendered expressions from the entire text.

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