When our parents came to back to school night on September 16, there were many who enjoyed and learned about what their children are experiencing in class, but some did not speak or spoke very little English. That is where the Interpreters come in.
The Interpreters are a member of a club that the Santa Barbara Unified School District established to help parents understand and talk with not only their children’s teachers on back to school night, but also talking with the school and district directly.
“It helps them in more than one way,” said club leader and Community Planning Coordinator Joanna Romo. “It helps them train in translating from one language to the other and it helps with public speaking.”
On back-to-school night, sometimes there are many parents who need an interpreter, so they have to project their voices while translating at the same time. Something else they encounter is when a school official makes a statement during the introduction of back-to-school night, they have to recite it in Spanish, simultaneously.
“This helps with those parents who do not understand English because it helps them have a language connection with the school and the school district. This establishes trust that otherwise would not be there,” said Ms. Romo.
While living in an English dominated country, we are all used to the idea of everyone understanding us. But this leaves the people who not only speak Spanish but other languages with mistrust and doubt in San Marcos and the school district.
The interpreters bridge the language gap and hopefully build trust in San Marcos and the school district. They help the people who need it understand not only the principal and the school administrators during the first part of back to school night in the auditorium, but also in the classrooms. During this time, the interpreters help in two ways: helping the teachers communicate what they have to say and helping the parents comprehend what they are saying. “I joined the program because my mom only knows a little English and I knew she could barely understand. So I joined because I wanted to help her and people like her understand their children’s school better,” said junior and club member Cristina Toyal.
The program also benefits the interpreters, teaching them to use their bilingual skills to help other people understand. The Interpreters work very hard not only on back to school night but in all the times they are needed. All of them, including Joanna Romo, support each other, their community and anyone that needs them.