Professor Adriana Rojas knows the demand for professional interpreters has increased in Harrisonburg.
Rojas, who teaches Spanish at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), says she often receives emails asking for student volunteers to work with medical personnel, lawyers, social workers or to interpret for parents in schools.
But a bilingual person doesn’t necessarily have the skills and knowledge to provide ethical and responsible interpretation skills, she says. “Great injustice has been done in the hands of unprepared and untrained interpreters, who may have good intentions but are not aware that their decisions and positionality can disempower the people they are seeking to serve.”
To meet that need, she wrote a grant to bring interpreter and community organizer Josh Diamond to campus.
Diamond and Rojas, as co-facilitator, will offer a workshop, “Interpreting for Social Justice,” at EMU on Saturday, April 8 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The event is free for bilingual students, staff, faculty and community members, thanks to a grant from the Orie Miller Center, which promotes interdisciplinary activities and scholarship modeled after the man’s visionary integration of business, mission, development, education, justice and peace. EMU’s Language and Literature Department is also sponsoring the workshop.
“With this training, bilingual people can go into an interpretation situation feeling confident about being in service of the message and with the tools to better serve the community,” Rojas said.
Diamond is the Teen Outreach Program coordinator for Harrisonburg’s Office on Children and Youth, which promotes positive youth development through various organizations in the area. The Teen Outreach Program is a national youth development program which combines community service with group activities and discussion to encourage healthy choices and relationships.
Diamond has led “Interpreting for Social Justice” workshops since 2013 for the Wayside Center for Popular Education in Faber, Virginia, where he is a member of the board. He has also led anti-racism workshops in area high schools with the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Youth Council, an initiative of the Office on Children and Youth.
Participants should plan to attend the entire program. It will take place in the JAMAR classroom accessible from the outside of the lower level of Hartzler Library.
Email email@example.com before March 20 to register.