I realized two days ago I haven’t been keeping my blog up to date on the program I have been working on.
Truthfully, I’ve been too busy to be as diligent with my blog writing as I need or want to be, but I thought I had dedicated one blog to talking about the program and everything it has to offer.
The process of getting La Voz together has been, well, quite the process. I have wanted to write about the frustrations and issues all along, but a large part of me doesn’t like putting negative energy into the “blog-sphere.” (Yes, that’s one of my words…I think) 🙂 But now the rough waters are beginning to calm, and I can see where I could have shared.
La Voz was a project I came up with over the summer while working with the Carrboro Police Department. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the meanderings I was doing mentally would turn into a solid idea. I worked there as an office girl, and part-time interpretor. I was able to assist the police officers and detectives when someone came in who could only speak Spanish – if they needed my help.
The police department does not have anyone on their staff who is fluent in Spanish, and with Carrboro’s Latino population resting at 9.1%, that’s a significant chunk of the community who is unable to communicate. To be fair, the CPD is actively looking for officers who are fluent, and would like to incorporate more Spanish speakers to the team.
But, this lack resulted in arrests for small tickets, or other time and money consuming activities which were often the consequence of simply not being understood. It is not natural for Latinos to appear in court for every ticket they are given.
I saw pain and frustration among the non-English speakers (some whom were not Spanish speakers), and the police department on money and time wasted in the court systems. I asked myself repeatedly how this could be solved. I knew there had to be a solution.
The solution came to me as most ideas or “solutions” (I call them Ahna solutions) do – at 3 a.m. when I am being an insomniac and can’t seem to turn my brain off. But, like all great ideas it was thought over, and then pushed aside because I didn’t have the time or the resources to begin such an endeavor.
The time came through a project in my Latina/o Media Studies class at UNC-Chapel Hill. We weren’t supposed to create a solution to the communities need, we were just supposed to create media products that would help Latinos. Of course, I took it to the extreme.
La Voz Translation Services is a volunteer-based program that will assist the Chapel Hill and Carrboro Police Departments in their communication with non-English speaking residents. It will also assist non-English speaking residents communicate with the police department. The program is to remain neutral in all its interactions, and remain “The Voice” between two languages.
The program has incredible potential to truly meet the needs of the community on several levels, and although we are initially going to begin working with the police departments, the goal is to reach out to other government and local organizations in the future. And I plan to extend the languages offered through the program.
La Voz has been featured in several publications, and was just asked to be interviewed by La Voz Presenta which is a television program in Kinston, North Carolina. The weekly show is shown across 26 counties, and seen by over three million viewers.
La Voz is currently in talks with two organizations heavily rooted in the Triangle, one with UNC-CH, and the other within the community. Both of these partnerships would enable La Voz the support and resources to elevate to a level where it could make an enormous impact. Exciting news will be coming….
I am including links to the articles published on La Voz, as well as our Facebook and Twitter accounts. I plan to create the website over my Christmas break, and will post that link as well when it is completed.
Please look into the program, follow us on Twitter, “like” our Facebook page (to stay up on news), and share your feedback and ideas. Programs such as these are conceived through one individual, but are given flight through the participation of many individuals. I welcome any ideas.
Latino Journalism and Media at Carolina (latijam)
La Voz Translation Services Facebook Page (please note, you will need to be signed into Facebook to access the page – if the link does not work you can search “La Voz Translation Services” and it will come right up)
Please feel free to contact us for volunteer opportunities at firstname.lastname@example.org