Please understand me
There are at least 95 different languages spoken in Boise, and this presents a challenge for many agencies working to provide social services. Can you imagine being in crisis and not able to communicate?
For the WCA, we are fortunate in that we have the resources to subscribe to a language line, have a list of interpreters, have been able to translate some of our materials into various languages and have increased the number of bilingual team members providing services.
Starting with our printed materials, we made sure years ago that our brochure and “shoe card” are available in English and in Spanish. Recently, we have also added shoe cards printed in Arabic and Swahili, with Farsi coming soon. These are languages that have been requested by our refugee agency partners as being the most needed currently. We will continue to work on translating our materials into as many languages as we can based on our community’s needs – finding a way to communicate with someone in their native tongue that we are here for them is an important first step in letting them know there is support should they need it.
When someone calls our hotline or walks in our door and we don’t speak their language, the first thing we do is call a translation service line that will connect us with a person that can translate to us why they are reaching out. While not ideal, this at least can help us understand the nature of their situation and from there, we can communicate back any resources we have that may be of use to them and also set a time for a more in depth conversation facilitated by a translator, if that is what is needed.
I have always been proud of the fact that Boise is viewed as a welcoming community to refugees. However, it wasn’t until I came to the WCA that I realized what a difficult transition it is for so many of our refugees. Potential “culture shock” added to an inability to communicate freely is a double burden that they work so hard to overcome. As an agency, we are committed to doing what we can to help ensure language is not a barrier to someone needing our services.
Chief Executive Officer
Back to Blog >>