Community Connection: Integrated Community |

Community Connection: Integrated Community

Jerry Hernandez
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Our mission is to proactively promote and support successful integration of immigrant and local community members in Northwest Colorado through education, intercultural exchange and collaboration to build a more united community, where its members can communicate, participate and contribute.

First envelope opened: “There’s a sale on patio furniture,” I said, then moved on to the next envelope in the pile. This one was larger than the first and had a plastic see-through window. I could read my mother’s name printed on the paperwork inside. “It’s a bill from your doctor’s office,“ I told her as she sat across from me at her kitchen table. I paused and tried to remember the Spanish word for oncologist, but then gave in to laziness and just put an “a” on the end of it — or an “o.”

It didn’t really matter. After all, I’d been translating my mother’s mail since I was a child. We’d developed a sort of verbal shorthand over the years.

For example, if I took a long time translating the junk-mail, she knew I was stalling, and bad news was an envelope away, along with a bad English to Spanish translation: “oncologisto?”

Language brokering, the act of translating between child and parent, is very common in many migrant families and can be seen as a natural part of “settling in” to a new community and culture.

However, a child interpreting topics beyond their cognitive abilities can introduce a level of stress and anxiety not easily absorbed by the child.

In order to address complex issues, such as language brokering, human service organizations need to leverage the collective impact of their service programs rather than relying on a single program approach.

I have always said Integrated Community “punches above its weight class.” How? By its ability to leverage the collective impact of its programs.

So in the end, it’s not just a matter of providing interpretation services to assist our community in addressing issues, like language brokering, but also incorporating our early childhood programs to assist parents, as well as our Study Friends Tutoring Program to mentor immigrant youth as they, like many other children, manage academic pressures as well as the pressures in the home.

Integrated Community is proud to offer our services and deliver on our mission to build a more united community, where its members can communicate, participate and contribute.

Jerry Hernandez is the education coordinator at Integrated Community. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, where he regularly interpreted for his non-English speaking mom and frequently made interpretation mistakes.

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