METM15 presentation

Unexpected spin-off: association management

Jane Lewis, Canet, Spain

The nature of MET is such that many of its members are native English speakers living and working in non-English speaking countries. As a consequence, our job choices have been affected: the language is new, our qualifications may not be recognized, and the needs of our host country are different. These same challenges related to being a foreigner make us more flexible and enterprising.

So how and why do we get a job? First, there has to be a need, a space, a “hole” that we can fill. Second, we have to notice that hole and third, make ourselves a little rounder to fit into it. I arrived in Catalonia thirty years ago with a degree in sociology and psychology from Australia. I have reinvented myself professionally three times, roughly every ten years, from English teacher to translator and editor and finally to association manager. While this most recent career move is not so common, each one led to the other and involved retraining and adaptation and a certain amount of risk. 

The key messages are first to be aware of new directions your career as an English language facilitator could potentially take, and second to know that there are many ways to increase your skills and know-how and train yourself for these new directions. Continuous learning is a fact of life and essential in order to stay up to date.

Jane Lewis is the executive officer of the European Society for Swallowing Disorders a new association founded in 2011. In addition she edits medical texts for publication in English language journals and prepares authors presenting in English at medical congresses, working closely with the Gastrointestinal Physiology and Motility Laboratory at Hospital de Mataró. She has lived in Catalonia for 33 years, in Australia for 13, and speaks Catalan, Spanish and, increasingly badly, English.