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Star Democrat – Hispanic cultural competency, interpretation programs offered

Star Democrat Article Features ChesMRC – By: Connie Connolly October 13, 2017

Scanned copy of article can be found here: Hispanic cultural competency, interpretation programs offered _ Local _ stardem

Original Star Democrat Article can be found here

Easton, MD – Inspired by the values of excellent public service, cultural inclusiveness, and an appreciation for diversity, Talbot County is leading the implementation of a Language and Cultural Competence program.  This initiative recognizes the unique challenges that non-English speakers experience to access resources, as well as our local agencies’ opportunity to ensure the provision of high quality services to all residents, including those who experience language and cultural barriers.

The inception of this project dates back to 2016,  when a group of leading agencies that include the Talbot County Department of Social Services, Talbot County Health Department, Talbot County Public Schools, Talbot County Sheriff’s Office, Talbot County Department of Emergency Services, Choptank Community Health Systems, University of Maryland Shore Regional Health, Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center and Chesapeake College came together as a committee with the mission of increasing our county agencies’ cultural competence and capacity for bilingual communication with the Hispanic community.

Other organizations that provide bilingual services in the community are also contributing to the work of the steering committee.  Bilingual professionals from organizations such as Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center (ChesMRC), For All Seasons, Upper Eastern Shore Office of Maryland Legal Aid, Mid Shore Pro Bono, Mid Shore Council on Family Violence, Schauber-Van Schaik Insurance Group, and staff members from the leading local agencies have generously shared their valuable experience and guidance.  Altogether, the steering and advisory committees for this project are shaping a vision for the non-English Hispanic members of our community to have access to trusted, professional translators and culturally competent services across all agencies of Talbot County.

As part of the 2017 achievements, the Talbot Language and Cultural Competence Committee has sponsored eight Cultural Competence presentations at diverse agencies and organizations, bringing awareness to more than one hundred individuals who interact (or would be likely to interact) with Hispanic clients in a daily basis.  As part of these presentations, Mr. Matthew Peters, ChesMRC’s Director, has shared his personal perspective after living thirteen years in rural Guatemala and serving the Hispanic community in Easton since 2012.  For many participants, learning about the heart-breaking reality of some Central American countries is an eye-opening experience that leaves them with a thirst for more knowledge and the desire of making a difference.  After the presentations, more than a half of the participants have expressed a strong willingness to adapt their methods and approaches to work with Hispanic clients.  The impact of the Cultural Competence trainings is

growing as more presentations continue to be requested.  All Talbot County agencies, organizations, and businesses wishing to learn more about Cultural Competence are welcome to request a free training for their staff.

The steering committee is also excited because of their progress on building local capacity for English-Spanish interpretation.   The network of current and prospective bilingual interpreters is being strengthened and empowered by bringing them together as a group and by establishing a shared understanding about the expectations of the profession.  To achieve these objectives, the Talbot Language and Cultural Competence Committee will tap on the expertise of an international leader in community interpreter training, which will be delivering a one-day program on October 24th at a public agency in Easton.  This free training, titled “Introduction to Community Interpretation” will explore topics such as ethics, language access laws, confidentiality norms and protocols, code of conduct for interpreters, how to work with interpreters, and career development opportunities.  The target audience for this training is the current bilingual workforce and other individuals with demonstrated proficiency in English and Spanish that may be interested in pursuing an interpretation career in Talbot County.  The program will be limited to 25 attendees.

With no doubt, the fluent knowledge of the English and Spanish languages is becoming an important asset that will result in increased professional opportunities in the future.  The recent adoption of the Seal of Biliteracy Program by Talbot County Public Schools demonstrates today’s relevance of bilingual skills.

It is the hope of the Talbot County Language and Cultural Competence Committee that, one day, the gap for bilingual interpretation will be filled with the capacity of an organized and self-sustaining network of trusted and qualified interpreters.  To get us there, the Committee will continue its diligent work to access more resources and to develop the necessary partnerships in a spirit of collaboration and community development.

To learn more about the work of the Talbot County Language and Cultural Competence Committee, to request a free Cultural Competence training, and/or to obtain more information about the October 24th training on Community Interpretation, please contact the program coordinator, Dr. Lorelly Solano, at or call her at 443-786-1120.

Founded in November, 2012, The Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center (ChesMRC) empowers people from different cultures to become successful and engaged members of our community by coordinating educational and informational programs. Since its inception, ChesMRC has provided services to more than 3,000 non-English speakers in Talbot and surrounding counties, involving over 6,000 separate requests for information and referral. For more information, please visit our website at