The translators of Humboldt County


By Sarahi Apaez

During the spring preview introduction in the Lumberjack Arena, Rosamel Benavides-Garb watched and listened through his headset as his students translated for the parents of incoming HSU freshmen.

Benavides-Garb, the chair of the department of world languages and cultures, teaches a translation and interpretation class at HSU. Students get to experience real service learning through translating for middle schools and high schools in the county during parent teacher conferences through a community outreach partnership with the Humboldt County Office of Education, as well as events at HSU such as spring preview.

These students are helping their community and the wave of Latinx students with parents who don’t speak English. Most high schools and middle schools are not in compliance when it comes to the need for translators at parent teacher conferences according to Benavides-Garb. HSU students get to play a huge role in translation services when it comes to student success in the county. 

Rosamel Benavides-Garb listening through his earpiece during Spring Preview.

Benavides-Garb feels that translation and interpretation services are very necessary especially in the high school setting.

“Parents have never heard their child’s teachers say that their child is an excellent student,” Benavides-Garb said. “Students are forced to be translators for their parents during these interactions and they have no idea how to translate that they themselves are excellent students.”

Students like Carlos Sanchez have been translating alongside Benavides-Garb since taking his translation and interpretation class in 2014.

Sanchez believes that through the field work for the translation and interpretation class has provided him with many opportunities for him to grow as a student and as an individual.

These students get real practice that they put on their resume through this service orientated class. They help their community as they take these classes.

“Bilingualism is something that is dear to me,” Benavides-Garb said.

With HSU as a Hispanic-Serving Institution with an influx of Latinx students, classes offered and taught by Benavides-Garb serve a very important purpose to students, the institution, and the community.

Rosamel Benavides-Garb assisting students in the translation of the book African Masks.

Rosamel Benavides-Garb assisting students in the translation of the book African Masks.

“HSU makes students into bilingual professionals,” Benavides-Garb said. “It takes a lifetime to acquire a second language but a lot of students at HSU are already bringing that.”

But just because a student is bilingual does not mean they can translate. Students learn interpretation in Benavides-Garb’s class which is the exact translation with all of the cultural complexions.

Benavides-Garb’s translation and interpretation class has had the opportunity of translating the book “African Masks” by James Gaasch from English to Spanish. The class is currently in the proofreading process where they work in groups to editing the translations bit by bit.

The book about the collection which was on exhibit at HSU is currently being sold on Amazon and after being translated in Spanish, it will be available for sale in Spanish speaking countries.

Alejandro Arredondo, a senior psychology major, is currently in the translation and interpretation field study class and has been translating the book “African Masks”.

“It’s a great opportunity to share a culture’s story in various languages,” Arredondo said.

After learning about the context and the message of the book, Arredondo feels confident about contributing to these stories and documents.

The Department of world languages and culture is creating a connection to these stories and documents to HSU.

“It has been a relentless call for service, providing translation services for our community,” Benavides-Garb said.

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