GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Hispanic Center of West Michigan is providing interpretation services to help reduce barriers for the Spanish-speaking community.
Hispanic Heritage Month officially begins on Thursday and News 8 spoke with three interpreters to get an understand of the role they play.
The center in Grand Rapids has 45 to 50 interpreters, according to program coordinator Griselda Perez.
“We’re helping the community. We are helping break that language barrier and that is very, very, very gratifying,” Perez said.
The center provides training and contracts interpretation work, which can include helping eliminate barriers with schools and with local or state governments.
“There is a huge need like at medical appointments when there’s that language barrier. It’s very important for the interpreter to be there to be able to explain fully everything that is ordered by the doctor,” Perez said.
Marisol Garcia helped translate at her family’s doctor’s appointments before getting formal training at the center.
“I’ve been doing it for four years and I really like it,” Garcia said.
She can help explain cultural differences while interpreting and knows the need in West Michigan.
“More diversity means more need. It means that we need to understand. Not everybody understands only one language and that it’s different cultures,” Garcia said.
Benjamin Acevedo decided to get into the field during the pandemic. He also grew up speaking Spanish and English.
“I’ve been doing it part-time for the last six months,” Acevedo said. “You get to do a job at the same time you’re helping somebody that without that, you as a link for the communication … wouldn’t have access maybe to the social programs or education programs.”
The center expects the need for interpretation services to grow.
“We’re expanding every day. There’s a greater need for interpreters out there. That is one of the reasons that we decided to offer the course here at the Hispanic Center because we see the need grow every single day,” Garcia said.
For information on how to become an interpreter, visit the center’s language programs page on its website.