The importance of being bilingual is addressed during Hispanic Heritage Month
National Hispanic Heritage Month began on September 15 and continues until October 15. This is a time when the Hispanic-Latino-Latinx community is celebrated. During the 2022 observation emphasis has been put on the importance of preserving one's native language as well as non-Hispanics learning the Spanish language to bridge the gap.
There are those who are working to erase language barriers in the Roanoke area for Spanish-speaking residents and recently a 911 call gave an excellent example of why this is necessary. Cynthia Green a bilingual local 911 operator received a call where she had to take action. She told WFXR the following. “As soon as I noticed that we were having issues connecting to the translator services, I just had to jump in quick,”
Green is a Peruvian 911 Communications Officer in Roanoke City and she immediately switched to her native language. She told WFXR “I just had to make that decision and thankfully it all worked out and we were able to provide help for that caller,” said Green.
Saving lives is important
Community Inclusion Coordinator Katie Hedrick said that Green being bilingual was life-saving and the city (of Roanoke) recognizes the value in that. This is why Roanoke City Council recently passed a bilingual pay incentive that benefits employees like Green .and Hedrick explained why. “To be able to say we recognize the work you’re doing to recognize the intellectual toll it may take on you, we want to give you a little something extra just to recognize that,”
Green said that having bilingual employees is a win-win for the community as well as Roanoke City. She added, “Just to be able to do that, to help the Hispanic community is really rewarding.” As we head towards the end of National Hispanic Heritage Month please keep in mind that being bilingual is more than simply learning another language it can actually save lives.