"Medical Spanish Immerion" is coordinated by Alan Archibald, a 1970 graduate of the University of Toronto's Latin American Studies program. In 1967, he lived with the Candelaria and Telesforo Lopez family in Mexico's Hidalgo mountains, serving as elementary school teacher by day, and adult literacy teacher at night.
In 1968-69, Archibald studied Latin American literature at La Universidad del Valle in Cali, Colombia.
In 1988-89, Archibald served as Adjunct Professor of Parasitology at the Managua, Nicaragua Medical School, "Recinto Rubén Darío."
Currently, Archibald serves as executive director of Hogar Hispano, a non-profit service agency dedicated to the well-being of Hispanics living in central North Carolina. www.hogarhispano.homestead.com
225 West Margaret Lane
Hillsborough, NC 27278
High School Teaching Credential in Life Sciences, State of California, June 1988. Holy Names College
Oakland CA. (ESL, English, and Spanish).
Master of Science in Applied Parasitology and Medical Entomology, August, 1976. Liverpool School of
Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, England. Dissertation: "Intestinal Pathology of Schistosomiasis in Mice".
Bachelor of Science in Biological Science, May 1975. State University of New York at Brockport.
Graduate program in Public Health Planning and Community Planning, 1970-1971. Studies
enabled by H.E.W. scholarship.
Bachelor of Arts in Latin American Studies and Comparative Religions, May 1970. University of Toronto,
Ontario, Canada. Third year abroad at the Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia enabled by a departmental
scholarship for academic excellence.
Aquinas Institute, Rochester, New York. High School diploma, 1965. Winner New York State Regents Scholarship.
Creator "Abra Palabra" a bi-monthly audio magazine for children presenting myth, fairy tale and legend.
Founder Medical Spanish Immersion, 2002.
Founder/Executive Director of Hogar Hispano, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation dedicated to the
Created and presented La Charla, a Spanish language conversation course for students of the Allied Health
Professions at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 1998 - 2000. Wrote "La Charla: A Companion
Text" under UNC contract.
Founder Pan-American Translation Service, 1996. Specializing in commercial, educational, medical, legal
and "newswire" translation. Also, legal and medical interpretation.
Served as Spanish language translator/consultant for novelist Lee Smith's collection of stories, "News of the
Spirit." Consulted with novelist Alan Gurganus for his novel, "Plays Well with Others."
"Spanish Pronto" served as sole Spanish-English translator for Inter-Press Service, an alternative news
agency based in Rome, Italy.
For several years, "Spanish Pronto" was sole Spanish language translator for the "North Carolina
Advanced Spanish Instructor at Orange High School, 1989-1996.
English as a Second Language Teacher, Orange County Schools, Hillsborough NC, 1990-1996.
Founder and Coordinator of Orange County Schools' Migrant Education Department. In addition to
English-as-a-Second Language instruction, "Migrant Ed" focuses on the nurturance of academic aspiration
through comprehensive whole family support.
Initiated proposal and co-founded the "Seminar Program", a model school initiative within Orange High
School. Named Seminar Program Visionary, 1993.
English as a Second Language Instructor, Durham Technical Community College, 1990-1991.
Adjunct Professor, Department of Parasitology, Medical School, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de
Nicaragua, 1988-1989. Taught courses on selected themes in parasitology to Nicaraguan teaching assistants.
Consulting parasitologist on infantile diarrhea study sponsored by UNAN and the University of Wisconsin.
Wrote Spanish language parasitology textbook. Co-founder of "Contrapartes a Distancia" (The Health
Connection), a bio-medical literature search and acquisition service for Nicaraguan medical personnel. English
Language Instructor and Translator, Medical School, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua, 1988-1989.
Honors Biology Teacher, Berkeley High School, Berkeley CA, 1988.
Spanish Teacher, Holy Names High School, Oakland CA, 1987.
Attendant care, counseling and wilderness companion for the physically disabled, 1977-1987.
Self-employed cedar shingle siding contractor, San Francisco Bay Area, CA, 1977-1986.
Associate of Arthur Deco Color and Design, Berkeley, CA, 1977-1983
United States Decennial Census, 1980.
Oakland City Census, Oakland CA 1977.
Remedial Reading Teacher, Lincoln School, Rochester, NY, 1973-1974.
Literacy Teacher, Hidalgo, Mexico, 1967. Provided Spanish literacy instruction with the Mexican
government's "Campaña contra el analfabetismo" (literacy campaign).
Community Involvement and Avocations:
Co-Founder Hogar Hispano, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation dedicated to the wellbeing of Hispanics
Social Concerns Committee member, Diocese of Raleigh, NC.
Coordinator of Hispanic ministry, Holy Family Catholic Church, Hillsborough, NC.
Founder: "Send a Migrant Kid to Summer Camp" program, Holy Family Catholic Church
Co-chairperson, Parish Council, Holy Family Catholic Church, Hillsborough, NC.
Lay ministry, lector, chorister, and liturgical designer, St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, Oakland, CA.
Co-founder of "The Center", a resource center for people living with AIDS/HIV (and their friends and
families), Oakland, CA.
Co-founder and worker, St. Francis de Sales Shelter and Dinner Program. St. Francis de Sales
Cathedral Community Center, Oakland, CA.
Co-president, Orange High School American Federation of Teachers.
Drama: high school, university, and community productions.
Gardening, orcharding, and vinyarding. Founder of Holy Family Community Orchard, Hillsborough, NC.
Computer-based audio recording.
Videography: scripting, shooting, editing.
Community organizing in English- and Spanish-speaking environments.
Bilingual questionnaire formulation and interviewing skills.
Holder of Emergency Medical Technician I certificate.
4-H Club "Distinguished Service" Award, Orange County, North Carolina, 1994.
Named "Visionary" of Orange High School's "Seminar Program," an Essential Schools Initiative, 1993.
HEW scholarship, School of Health Planning and Community Planning, University of Cincinnati, 1970-1971.
Latin American Studies Scholarship for Academic Excellence, University of Toronto, 1968.
New York State Regents Scholar, 1965.
"Judge, wife are obsesionados for all things Spanish" Alonzo Coleman finds it helpful in the courtroom, his wife Nancy in providing health care. Durham Herald Sun, Thursday, March 08, 2001 Chapel Hill Herald - Durham Herald Sun
HILLSBOROUGH, NC - For purposes of Monday nights, the Spanish classes at the Orange County
Courthouse start at 7 p.m. and are mostly over by about 8:30 or so. In the larger perspective, the courthouse
classes started about four years ago and there is no end in sight. ("Monday Night Class" was created by Alan
Archibald at Judge Coleman's request after Mr. Archibald interpreted for a 15 year old Central American
woman involved in a child custody dispute.)
It is a never-ending curriculum because the commitment to learn another language has to be one of life's most
long-range undertakings. That's according to one faithful attendee at the Monday night Spanish classes,
District Court Judge Alonzo Coleman.
"This is something I'll do for the rest of my life," he said. "I'm not going to master Spanish in one year or two.
It's going to be a lifelong challenge."
His wife Nancy goes with him to these weekly classes and she, like her husband, applies what she's learned in
class to her professional life. She's a UNC home health nurse, with a growing caseload of Hispanic patients.
The Monday night classes are only a segment of the Colemans' rigorous course of study. They hold another
Spanish class at their home every Thursday night. They read a Spanish-language newspaper downloaded off the
Internet every day and watch a Spanish newscast on videotape over dinner every evening.
"We try to stay in immersion as much as possible," Nancy Coleman said. "That's the way to learn."
A better word might be obsesionado. Academic courses also figure in, as well as the couple's annual vacation.
Alonzo Coleman attends Tuesday and Thursday afternoon classes in Legal Spanish at UNC. "It's the only way
to do it, the only way not to slide back between the trips to Oaxaca," he said.
Their yearly sojourn to Oaxaca (pronounced WaHAka) is nothing at all like the Cancun cruise package. The
landlocked city is about 100 miles south of Mexico City, and while there the Colemans attend language lessons
all day every day. What little is left of their tourist time is devoted to taking in the city's history and culture.
Oaxaca is an ancient city where Cortez's palace still stands in the city's center, and there are markets all along
the streets. An old fort marks the site of the victory of Porfirio Diaz over the French army, the historic event
that is celebrated by the annual Cinco de Mayo.
Colorful photos from these jaunts line the walls of the judge's chambers.
"It's a long way from the frontier," he said, "so you get away from 'Spanglish.' "
On their visits they have been told by Mexican lawyers that approximately 80 percent of judges in Mexico are
corrupt, which underscores one of the fundamental differences between American and Mexican legal
proceedings. Coleman said he has had defendants in his courtroom ask how much will be needed for the judge.
"They need to understand it's a crime up here even to try to pay a judge," he said. "It's important for them to
understand certain things about our culture are different."
Nancy Coleman's career also has evolved significantly as her understanding of Spanish has deepened, and the
personal rewards have been enormous. Often she is sent out to translate exchanges between agency
professionals and patients, and many times she goes out on her own to visit patients just released from the
Home health providers without the language skills often are greeted with suspicion and hostility, particularly
where services to children are involved. But with the skills, the barriers melt immediately.
"It's opened up a new world," she said. "I wouldn't be able to see these patients at all, and it's a privilege to be
able to deal with them. They are such nice people and the ones that I have encountered are hard-working - just
real good examples to all of us."
Only by degrees did this couple become quite so heavily immersed in all things Hispanic. About four years ago
Lonnie Coleman had a bit of an epiphany, thinking about all the non-English-speaking defendants who were
appearing in ever-increasing numbers in his courtroom.
"I put myself in their shoes," he said. "I imagined that I was in Russia and I had gotten a warrant and I had to
go to court." Assuming that he did decipher the warrant and somehow or another found the court date and
figured out where to go, he would still find himself sitting in a courtroom, seeing the judge stand up and say
something, seeing the district attorney stand up and say something, and watching the sheriff take people out of
"All of a sudden I hear my name called out," he said. "What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to stand? Am
I supposed to leave? I guessed all I could do was stick my hand up in the air. And that's what these guys were
doing in court."
He became further motivated by an incident involving the rape of a young Guatemalan girl, who told her story in
the judge's chambers to an interpreter. From Coleman's standpoint, he was only getting the weeping and the
shaking and the emotional stress of the victim.
"I didn't understand what was being said, and I still don't know what he said back to her," Coleman said.
Later, he asked the interpreter if someone his age (he is now 63) could learn Spanish. The interpreter, Alan
Archibald, said, "Of course." Coleman asked how, and Archibald told him to come to his house on Monday
The Monday classes have moved from Archibald's house to the new courthouse on Margaret Lane, and
Archibald is still the teacher. He also teaches the Thursday classes at the Colemans' house.
"We've been studying with him for four years," said Nancy Coleman. "He loves teaching and he has a wealth
of knowledge about customs and different countries and political situations. He explains the background of
words, the roots of words, and it ties everything in together and you just learn it. It just paints the picture so
"It's a lifelong challenge, but it turns out to be such a pleasure," Alonzo Coleman said. "We feel like
6-year-olds just crawling out into a new world. It winds up totally changing your outlook. We're in a world we've
never been in before."
The following article describes Alan Archibald's work as director of Hogar Hispano, a 501(c)(3) non-profit
"Hogar is home for Hispanic residents" Editor, The News of Orange County
While as many as 700 migrant workers are employed each spring by Orange County farmers, ther are an
estimated 3000 to 10000 permanent Hispanic residents of the county. As many of them reach middle age, and
are thus no longer suited to the rigors of farm labor, they begin to seek out other employment opportunities.
However, upon reaching middle age, language acquisition skills also wane, making it difficult for them to
find employment beyond farm work, construction, and other forms of manual labor. That's where Hogar
Hispano comes in.
Hogar Hispano, a Hillsborough-based 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation dedicated to the well-being of
Hispanics in the Old North State, coordinates La Cooperativa Hispana, a labor cooperative, whose members
are available for jobs such as yard care, housecleaning, cooking and catering.
Currently housed in the community center of Holy Family Catholic Church, at the intersection of NC 57
and Gov. Burke Road north of Hillsborough, Hogar Hispano combines the energy, passions and talents of a
number of Orange County residents all of whom are dedicated to helping local Hispanics not only survive, but
According to Alan Archibald, a Holy Family parishioner and former Spanish teacher at Orange High
School, Hogar Hispano bases its approach on stressing the importance of education, gainful employment, and
Archibald, a native of Rochester, New York, who has called Orange County home for 11 years, brings with
him expertise in the fields of Latin American Studies and Comparative Religions. He has also studied tropical
medicine in England, lived in Colombia, and taught medicine in Managua, Nicaragua.
According to Archibald, Ismael and Herlinda Balderas, former residents of Mexico who now make their
home in Orange County, have also been instrumental in the genesis of Hogar Hispano.
No strangers to hard work and local activism, the couple farmed for 35 years in the Mexican state of
Querétaro, where they played a decisive role in having electricity and phone service brought to the hamlet of
San Pedro Escanela.
The Balderas also worked to establish the first secondary school in San Pedro, and have sent all but one
of their six children to college.
"Members of the Hispanic community are hardworking, family-oriented people," said Archibald, who
helped found the Migrant Education Department of Orange County Schools. "We want to help provide them
with the tools they need to do well."
Ismael, currently 50 years old, worked on the northern Orange County farm of Earl and David McKee for
a number of years. Herlinda, according to Archibald, is an excellent cook.
Among the services offered by Hogar Hispano are ESL classes, access to computers, and workshops
explaining the finer points of securing a mortgage.
"Due to bouts of hyper-inflation, Mexicans typically distrust banks," said Archibald. "We enable access
to lenders, and encourage home ownership as a way of creating a nest egg for the future."
According to Archibald, Hogar Hispano will soon offer a cyber-café providing virtual office space for
fledgling entrepreneurs, training in Java programming, digital music recording, and a number of other
Hogar Hispano is currently involved in a fund-raising effort to refurbish the old Warren Clinic in Prospect
Hill. $30,000.00 will be needed to complete the project over the next two years.
"We welcome and encourage input from everyone in the community," said Archibald. "All efforts are
Alan Archibald's "Monday Night Class," was launched five years ago at the request of District Court Judge
Alonzo "Lonnie" Coleman following Archibald's mediation of a legal dispute involving a Central American
woman. An account of this episode was published in the "Urban Hiker," (April, 2000, Durham, North Carolina.)
"Bring Your Own Interpreter" North Carolina scrambles to serve residents who don't speak English "Spectator" - Raleigh, NC
"It's a big problem for me," says Josefina Carrillo, a mother with three children in Durham Public Schools. "I
go to parent-teacher meetings and try to tell the school the problems I have with my son, but they don't
Carrillo is standing in the main room of El Centro Hispano, a Durham organization dedicated to building the
power of the local Hispanic community. She has just finished the day's English-language class and is speaking
through an interpreter.
"It surprises me when I hear people in other schools get translators in meetings," Carrillo says. She pats a
large dictionary she holds in her arms. "When I go, this is my translator."
Is North Carolina doing enough to address the issues raised by non-English-speaking taxpayers -- not just
Hispanics -- who demand access to the same services as English-speaking taxpayers?
Non-English-speakers move to the Triangle from many parts of the world; immigrants who speak Spanish
constitute the largest identifiable block (although they represent a variety of cultural groups with different
dialects). The 2000 Census documented about 34,000 people of Hispanic or Latino descent in Wake County,
17,000 in Durham County and over 5,200 in Orange County. Nearly ten percent of the population in Chatham
County, over 4,700 people, is Hispanic.
Immigrants who used to come to North Carolina to work during harvest season are now finding the state is a
great place to live and work year-round. As word spreads in places like Mexico and Guatemala and families
move here permanently, state agencies are finding that once-temporary bilingual services now need to become
permanent as well.
The trend is likely to continue in coming years. "Young people are more inclined to migrate or immigrate than
older people," states a 1999 study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Institute of Government.
"Because most of the female Hispanic newcomers are in their peak childbearing years, the potential for
continued growth of the state's Hispanic population is enormous."
Like Josefina Carillo, many immigrants are committed to learning English so they can talk with and understand
their children's teachers. But learning a new language can take a long time, particularly for an adult. That
means Hispanic immigrants who are doing their best to learn the offical language of their adopted land may still
encounter serious difficulties as they try to use government services like the courts, police, social services and
Are state and local government agencies ensuring that Hispanic residents are being treated fairly?
The federal government is asking that very question.
The entire state of North Carolina is currently under a "compliance review" by the Office of Civil Rights to
ensure that all local health and social services departments are providing services effectively to those who need
them, as guaranteed by Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Medicaid dollars and other forms of federal
assistance hang in the balance.
"Most counties in the state are currently out of compliance," says Terry Hodges, director of the Americans
with Disabilities Act program in N.C.'s Department of Health and Human Services. "It's not intentional. It's
because of a lack of knowledge of Title VI issues, and because in the past the state has done an inefficient job
of having policies for counties to follow."
"Money's a big issue," notes Robert Hall, director of the Chatham County Department of Social Services. "If
the federal government mandates that we have full-time interpreters without supplying money for them, that
forces county commissioners to come up with it. And there's a limit to how much they're gonna raise taxes
before voters vote them out. You just try to do the best with the resources you've got."
That explains the sign on the front door of the Chatham DSS building. It warns visitors the office does not
always have an interpreter available.
"POR FAVOR TRAIGA UN INTERPRETE con usted," it suggests. "Please bring your own interpreter."
At least Chatham's DSS tacitly acknowledges they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing. The larger
question is how much of the rest of the state's support system is also in violation of the law.
The sign has raised eyebrows at some non-governmental agencies that provide services to the Hispanic
"I do see that many agencies are trying their best to address this," says one worker who asked to remain
anonymous. "We've always worked with them and will continue to work with them. But I'm actually surprised
more health departments and hospitals haven't been sued. When you use a child or family member to interpret
what are supposed to be confidential medical discussions, you're asking for trouble."
State ADA program director Terry Hodges agrees. "One of the most amazing things is that the Hispanic
advocacy groups have been extremely helpful. But if we don't work this out, the advocacy groups and legal
services organizations are out there. They can bring lawsuits to force us to work it out."
As you listen to the difficulties Hispanic immigrants encounter as they interact with state and local government
agencies, you might get the impression that North Carolina is behind the curve in dealing with the problem. But
some observers are quick to say the state is doing better than most others.
"I've never seen a state move so well and so fast in providing interpreters to deal with a system that got
overloaded overnight," says Eta Trabing, director of the Berkana Center for Translation and Interpretation
Studies in Fuquay-Varina. "I've been creating standards for interpreters at the state and federal level for 20
years. North Carolina has achieved in six years what others have not done in 30."
Trabing is referring mainly to improvements in the state's court system.
"A couple of years ago, interpreters were walking up and soliciting clients in the hallways," she says.
"Horrible, absolutely horrible. Now, if you're in criminal court and don't speak English, they assign you a
lawyer and an interpreter. And Wake and Durham County now have set times when trained interpreters are
available, and schedule Spanish-speaking defendants then."
Last week, the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys announced it had translated "key victim
communication tools" -- a victim's rights handbook and video, a child victim's coloring book -- into Spanish. The
state now also offers a three-day "Spanish Language Immersion Training" that teaches district attorneys to
ask basic questions like "What happened?" and "Where did it happen?" in Spanish.
Perhaps most importantly, North Carolina has implemented a rigorous certification program for court
interpreters, with 16 graduates already in the field.
"We'd like to have a state-paid, certified interpreter in every city," says Stephanie Scarce, head of the Foreign
Language Services Project in the Administrative Office of the Courts. But keeping standards high means that
progress, while steady, will also be slow. According to Scarce, of the 56 people who began the most recent
course only 13 passed the final test.
"We get a lot of people who think they can interpret just because they're bilingual," says Eta Trabing. "But
they don't know the difference between an indictment and an arraignment. You have to know the legal
terminology as well as a lawyer does."
You also have to be trained to avoid giving legal advice, adds Scarce.
"I've seen a judge ask a question and the interpreter talk with the client for 15 minutes, then turn to the judge
and say "He says yes, your honor.' That's not interpreting. We have to make sure the people we train know
Despite the high failure rate in the certification course, Scarce says the state is "doing just fine." She notes
only two states have a higher passing rate than North Carolina.
"Reporters always want to say there's a dire need that's going unfilled," she says. "But look at what we've
done in two years. If a Hispanic woman wants to take out a restraining order in a domestic violence case, she
can now go to a magistrate, get a packet of forms that are bilingual and get a state-certified interpreter for the
courtroom at state expense. You take a state like South Carolina, and they don't even have a certification
program. I think the courts are making great strides. We're doing the best we can, given the time we have and
the grant money."
Grant money? Are there no funds in the state budget specifically set aside to meet this obvious need?
"My position is still funded by grants, including one from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and another from
the State Bar Association," Scarce replies. "The Smith Reynolds grant runs out this year, so the governor's
crime commission has agreed to give us money for at least one more year. But they're only funding this
position, not any of the other needs like brochures, videos and training. And after that, we don't know."
Money to help Spanish-speaking immigrants get the services they need is apparently not a very high priority
during North Carolina's current budget crisis, despite the fact that problems are certain to increase in coming
"We still have huge numbers of people in the legal system who are being served by people who can't
adequately interpret for them," says Orange County District Judge Alonzo Coleman. Judge Coleman signed up
for regular Spanish classes five years ago after becoming frustrated at not being able to understand what was
going on in his courtroom. "We need 200 certified interpreters across the state. What you need is someone in
every court that opens wherever there's a non-English-speaking person. That's the need."
Until that need is met, Hispanic people will continue to fall through the cracks. Like one man looking for work at
El Centro Hispano last week (he asked that his name not be used). He'd been arrested for driving while
impaired and had left his car by the side of the road. He couldn't make bail and was eventually released, only to
find his car impounded and, he says, no one in the county sheriff's department who could talk with him about
what to do to get it back. Frustrated, he gave up on being understood and is now struggling to find
transportation to work each day.
Building a culturally sensitive system
That episode points to a number of ongoing issues raised by the sudden influx of Hispanic immigrants. Some,
like major language differences, have quick fixes that are fairly simple, even if they're less than ideal long-term
solutions. The Chatham County Sheriff's Department, for example, deals with non-English-speaking arrestees
by using a company called Language Line that gives government officials 24-hour access to a live interpreter
via an 800 number. The private service costs the county $3 per minute, which the Sheriff's Department is now
figuring the best way to fund.
"We've used it a few times and it's worked real well so far," says Chief Deputy Randy Keck.
Other, more subtle issues may be more difficult to deal with, but can nonetheless have major consequences for
interactions between authorities and Spanish-speaking immigrants.
Take, for instance, the simple matter of eye contact. Wayne Herder, state Director of Driver's License
Certification, says he's spoken with DMV examiners who say they can tell when a Hispanic person's documents
are fake because "they wouldn't look me in the eye."
"What they didn't realize," Herder says, "is that Hispanic customers, especially the laboring class, are very
deferential to authority figures. What the examiner takes as a sign that the customer is lying is actually a sign
of respect. We've worked hard to make sure examiners know about those kinds of cultural issues."
Hispanic defendants also sometimes confuse paying bail with being let go completely, says Stephanie Scarce.
"They don't know bond is not a final arrangement, so they'll pay and think it's a done deal, and get in a lot more
Judge Coleman offers another instructive thought.
"In Mexico, paying bribes to police is a normal part of life. If you don't have a lot of money on you when you
get into an accident and the cops come, you'd better run. We have to educate people that running from cops in
the United States isn't necessary and is actually a very bad idea."
After seeing a dramatic increase in Hispanic immigrants in his courtroom, Judge Coleman became something of
an evangelist for cross-cultural education. Other judges and district attorneys have followed suit. Instead of
sentencing defendants to community service for minor violations, judges have begun to sentence them to a 3-5
hour course about adjusting to life in the United States. The course discusses the U.S. attitude towards things
like domestic violence, seatbelt use and drunk driving -- attitudes that may be very different from those the
immigrants are used to.
Coleman believes all police, judges and court employees should take a similar short course to sensitize them to
these issues. Last month, the state Administrative Office of the Courts presented just such a course to nearly
400 N.C. magistrates.
In the absence of a statewide budget commitment, non-profit organizations, private companies and inspired
individuals have become the front-line workers helping Spanish-speaking residents of the Triangle.
The town of Cary, for example, hires Jackie Metivier's company, Bilingual Communications, to translate
biweekly meetings for Hispanic employees in the recycling and solid waste departments.
"We bring our equipment -- 90 receivers that provide simultaneous interpretation -- and hand them out,"
Metivier explains. "It's a mixed audience, so some folks hear the meeting in English and some hear it in
Spanish. It works out very nicely."
Private contractors are a big part of the patchwork solution to the Triangle's translation and interpretation
needs, she says. "We work mostly with hospitals, but also insurance companies, attorneys, businesses like
IBM and Nortel, a lot of hotels whose housekeeping staff is Spanish-speaking, you name it."
Non-profit groups like El Centro Hispano in Durham, El Pueblo in Raleigh and Childcare Networks in Pittsboro
also help take up the slack left by the absence of interpretative services in many areas of government.
"We do a lot of ad hoc interpreting for folks who come in with a letter or bill they can't understand," says Alice
Johnson, translation and interpretation coordinator at El Centro Hispano. "That's how we get the pulse of
where the greatest need is -- health care issues including the Department of Social Services and Medicaid, and
"The courts have already taken an enormous step to providing quality, certified legal interpreters," Johnson
says. "We think that's a great model for other areas like health care, where the quality and professionalism of
your interpreters is very important."
"One of our missions is government agency consultation," notes Aileen Foley, El Centro Hispano's
administrative coordinator. "When we get a request from a government organization, our first question is "Why
do you need us to translate for you?' Us translating on a one-time basis may not address the real need, so we go
deeper, find the problem and encourage them to hire bilingual people if necessary. Our goal is not just to
provide the service, but to make them realize why they're calling us in the first place."
Individuals with an unusually strong commitment to helping immigrants adjust to their new life in the Triangle
are also an important piece of the puzzle. Paul Stennett, who grew up in Guatemala as a son of missionary
parents, is creating a curriculum on cultural differences for use with defendants, police officers and government
workers. Alan Archibald, founder of the non-profit Hogar Hispano (www.hogarhispano.homestead.com), has not
only organized a Hispanic Labor Cooperative that employs six full-time and twelve part-time employees, he also
teaches a long-running series of Spanish-classes to interested officials and citizens. Judge Coleman and his wife
host one of those classes in their home in Hillsborough every Thursday evening -- another product of Coleman's
epiphany in the courtroom five years ago.
People like these are a gift to the community, of course, but is it realistic to expect a groundswell of Triangle
government employees who'll rush to learn Spanish, on their own time, to help them deal with the area's rapidly
"I think it's understandable that court officials would get frustrated at not being able to communicate with the
people who come into their office every day," says Stephanie Scarce. "They worry they're going to have to
learn a new language, which will take time -- possibly up to 4 to 6 years to get fluent -- and spend their own
money to do it, simply because the state won't pay for interpreters."
Alice Johnson recognizes the frustration as well, but points out that multiple languages don't always have to be
seen as a barrier.
"We tend to forget that multiple language situations are really an opportunity for enrichment -- for everybody,"
she says, noting that Hispanic immigrants are "packing" local English classes. "It has to do with the value we
place on multilingualism, and seeing multiple languages only in terms of being a burden or obstacle that we have
to fight to overcome. But we have a real opportunity to invite Durham to embrace a multi-language situation.
The majority of the world operates multilingually; it's actually something of an aberration for the United States
to be so monolingual."
Judge Coleman agrees that learning Spanish was more of an opportunity than a burden.
"At first, trying to learn a new language left me with a feeling of total inadequacy," he admits. He talked with
Alan Archibald of Hogar Hispano about his doubts. "When I asked Alan if he thought someone as old as I am
could learn Spanish, he looked at me and said, "Of course you can learn Spanish!' He said if anyone would start
with him and stick with it for six months, they'd be speaking Spanish. Not perfectly, but speaking it."
Coleman laughs. "Now, five years later, I enjoy it. It sustains me. And it's led to so many other wonderful things
in our lives."
"It's not at all unreasonable," Alice Johnson suggests, "to envision a multilingual Durham. It's a very
respectful perspective to believe Durham can achieve that."
And, one can assume, the rest of the Triangle, too.