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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Found in translation: Bilingual students train at UA

    Around one-third of Arizona’s population says that English is not their primary language and they have difficulty speaking or understanding it. The UA, in tandem with Pima Community College’s Translation Studies Program, is intending to solve that problem.

    High school seniors and college-bound students are flocking to the UA for a summer interpretation class. They are being trained to be professional interpreters in a three-week summer program known as the Professional Language Development Program.

    This summer program is a highly competitive and esteemed one, according to the National Center for Interpretation. This summer, only 25 students were selected out of the 80 students that applied.

    The students, who are bilingual in English and Spanish, are learning the formal way to speak and translate, said Armando Valles, assistant director for the interpreter center at the UA.

    The interpreters are paid a stipend between $75 and $125 every week. A school in a budget crisis paying students to take a program may seem out of the ordinary to some. However, it is not the schools budget that pays for these stipends, nor should they be considered a paycheck, Valles said.

    The program itself, and contributions from the Amphi and Sunnyside school districts provides the money for the stipends, Valles added.

    “”It’s for their meals. Students usually have summer jobs and other summer programs, so we try to encourage them to participate in the program,”” Valles said. “”They would be giving up their jobs for the summer, so this is a way to supplement their income for jobs. Their program is on campus and they need to buy lunch, a bilingual dictionary and other supplies so the stipend goes toward that.””

    Carlos Guerrero is a junior at Sunnyside High School and gave up his job of fixing and cleaning houses this summer to train at the UA.

    “”I want to go to the UA after I graduate high school,”” Guerrero said. “”My goal, though, is to work as an interpreter for criminal investigations.””

    Students are not just in it for the money, said Manuel Alvarez, a senior at Sunnyside High School and program participant.

    “”I’m in it for the experience, not the money,”” Alvarez said. “”After attending the UA, I don’t know exactly where I will end up working, possibly construction.””

    This program does more than just teach the students through lectures, workshops and labs. It works with different entities in southern Arizona’s communities to provide service through internships.

    “”We have had students hold internships at Arizona’s Juvenile Court, Teen Court, Superior Court, law firms, the Tucson Citizen, the Daily Star, medical facilities,”” Valles said. “”There are even some UA departments that have used interns in the past such as geosciences.””

    The goal of the internship experience that they gain from places such as Arizona’s Juvenile Court is that it will be beneficial to the career and education, said Jesus Diaz, deputy court director for Pima County Juvenile Court Center.

    “”This would be helpful in my career goals,”” said Nanci Garcia a junior at Sunnyside High School. “”I hope to get the skills to help me in the future. With my goal of becoming a pediatrician.””

    According to Pima County’s Juvenile Court Center, they recently signed an agreement with the UA for a semester-long program with the UA’s translator students that begins in the fall.

    “”They would be job shadowing our actual court interpreters with a multiphase type of approach,”” Diaz said. “”First the typical on the job orientation, the ethics of interpreting, then job shadowing to actual court proceedings and administrative proceedings.””

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