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Interpreter list lends a voice to those needing help

by on July 06, 2018 9:18 AM

UNIVERSITY PARK — When it comes to serving Centre County’s international population, Global Connections wants to make sure nothing gets lost in translation.

Global Connections, an affiliate of Penn State and the United Way of Centre County, has built a list of 36 interpreters who can aid local authorities. Interpreters assist the likes of State College Borough Police, State College Area School District, Centre County Women’s Resource Center and Centre Volunteers in Medicine.

At Easterly Parkway Elementary School, an interpreter helped determine the barriers preventing an ESL student’s English skills from improving. “It was heartbreaking to see such an outgoing, eager child struggling to communicate with their peers,” said teacher Emily Kao. “There were questions concerning whether this was occurring simply because the child was learning a new language or if a language difference was the underlying factor. After reaching out to Global Connections, they eagerly helped to identify interpreters who spoke the same language as this said student.

“We found a volunteer who was willing to come in and speak with the child in their home language to observe if the language difference was occurring in the child’s first language and not just as the child spoke English. Sure enough, the interpreter quickly noticed and shared with our instructional team that the child was displaying a language difference and difficulties producing certain sounds in the first language.

“Having gained this insight, it expedited the process for us to put supports in place for the child, including speech support. We are so grateful to be able to provide early intervention to meet this child’s needs, and we were able to do so with Global Connection’s support.”
Additionally, Global Connections assisted emergency services in Centre County by producing “I Speak …” cards, which help those from other countries notify first responders of their native languages during emergencies.

“It’s to help us help them connect faster to a translator,” said Barbara Berenty of the Centre County Emergency Communications Center.
Berenty said calls to 911 via translation apps or apps that make phone calls don’t work or are inconsistent. Calls should be made directly via phone, she said. The cards are designed to make that easier for international residents.

Interpreters are available for Arabic, Chinese/Mandarin, Czech, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Kurdish, Malay, Malinke, Portuguese and Spanish.

For more information, call (814) 863-3927 or email [email protected].

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.
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