Community Interpreter Interns Ignite Change

Pictured is are the students who participated in the Community Interpreter Internship in fall 2018.

In a globalized world, learning a language is about more than literacy—it’s also cultural, and students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences have the opportunity to apply their linguistic and cultural competencies in a real-world setting. The Community Interpreter Internship is a partnership between the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and the five clinics in Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law—particularly with the Clinic for Asylum, Refugee and Emigrant Services (CARES) and the Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic (FLACS). Undergraduate students with advanced proficiency in Spanish and an interest in helping the Hispanic community act as translators and interpreters between clients and their student lawyers.

This community-based learning is purposeful—students apply skills they learn in the classroom in order to serve others. Enrique Rosado ’21 CLAS, a Communication major, explained that the course could be challenging emotionally, mentally and academically, but being part of this program gave him a direct opportunity to help those in need.

“The different situations that I would encounter through the interpretation internship were not easy things to hear and talk about,” Enrique said. "As both an interpreter and a Latino citizen in the United States, I often felt especially attached to the clients because I knew just how serious the cases were and how important the verdict can be.”

The internship prepares students for an ever-changing global workplace. Andrea Lajara Alicea ’21 CLAS, Biology, says in addition to practicing quick and accurate translations, she particularly enjoyed learning from the clients.

“The course opened my eyes to realities outside my limited worldview. Getting to know the clients and their stories allowed an acquisition of sociological knowledge that has in part prepared me for the future,” Andrea explained. “As an aspiring medical student, being able to establish an empathetic and close relationship with patients is a key skill and this internship has allowed me to begin cultivating it.”

Andrea is considering studying medicine after graduation and combining it with a residency in an area with a large immigrant population.

“It is my turn to use my power, as small as it can be, to help those who sacrifice everything for a future,” Andrea said.

The Community Interpreter Internship is a partnership between the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and the clinics in Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Undergraduate students with proficiency in Spanish act as translators between clients and their student lawyers.