Foreign language professors from Northwestern State University are sharing their skills by translating directives from city and parish government to the Spanish-speaking population of Natchitoches Parish.
Dr. Telba Espinoza-Contreras, director of NSU’s International Student Resource Center, appeared in a video created by the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Department to announce a city and parish curfew that began April 7. The video was shared through local news media and social media channels. Her husband, Dr. Benjamin Forkner, and Christine Ferrell, professors in the Department of English, Foreign Languages and Cultural Studies, are also working with officials.
“After seeing the public announcement last week by the sheriff, the mayor and the parish president, it dawned on me that this would not reach most of our Hispanic population,” Forkner said. He and Ferrell reached out to local governing authorities to offer their services in translating the message. “The sheriff’s office contacted me and Telba to do a translation. They sent me a redacted announcement and, after Telba and I translated it, Telba went to the sheriff’s office on Church Street to read the announcement.
“The sheriff’s office was pleased that NSU was contributing to help in the pandemic public announcement. They also asked Telba if we could keep on helping them in the future to which we agreed,” Forkner said.
Ferrell said that individuals who don’t understand the messaging could put themselves and others at risk. “It’s for everyone’s safety,” she added.